LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor: COVID-19 likely to be seasonal virus

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport says the coronavirus could become a seasonal illness, just like the flu.

“Even though we have a vaccine for the regular flu or immunization, we can get a flu shot every year, the reality is that a flu shot is not 100% effective and neither will this vaccine be 100%,” said Dr. G.E.Ghali, Chancellor of LSU Health Shreveport.

Dr. Ghali says the coronavirus could possibly have seasonal characteristics because other viruses normally have two variables as to why they are seasonal. One of those variables is temperature and the other is how close people are to one another.

“The warmer the temperature the less likely viruses are to survive in warmer temperature, but not 100%, so the temperature is one variable. Typically, in the wintertime when it’s cooler, people aren’t out as much, outdoors as much, they are closer, confined together, so the combination of cooler weather and people being closer to each other, indoors more, are the two variables that result in the seasonal variability in some of these viruses. And, I’m sure this novel COVID-19 will be no different.”

Fortunately, when it comes to the coronavirus, he says a vaccine could be coming sooner rather than later.

“I was always hopeful that we would have one before the end of the year, but realistically part of it was that it would take 12-to-18 months. But, there have been some positive reports out of Washington, D.C. The CDC and the FDA are working with a lab at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, so it’s possible to come up with a very promising vaccine that not only would be effective but also could be mass-produced fairly easily.”

Dr. Ghali says there are different strains of the virus around the country and that the virus can mutate.

“The variety we have in North Louisiana looks to be genetically very similar to the clan or the family that looks the same as the European variety, which is the same as that in New Orleans. A little bit different than the variety they have on the West Coast of the U.S., which is more of a direct variety from China.”

Just like the flu vaccine, this vaccine would not be 100% effective, but it will help those who have compromised immune systems.

“If it’s given to folks on a regular basis, particularly the vulnerable population, the elderly those in nursing homes, and those who have comorbid conditions, then the likelihood of it protecting those individuals is really good.”

Doctor Ghali says this virus is something doctors are still working to understand but he believes everything will go back to normal.

“Do I think we are going to wear masks forever, no. I think we are going to go back to shaking people’s hands, we are going to go back to hugging people, kissing people on their cheeks and things that we like to do, particularly, in the south.”

Dr. Ghali says he is hopeful about a vaccine being developed before the end of the year, but he says, realistically, it could take 12 to 18 months.

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