Anticipating the medium- and long-term trajectory of pathogen emergence has acquired new urgency given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For many human pathogens, the burden of disease depends on age and previous exposure. Understanding the intersection between human population demography and transmission dynamics is therefore critical. Here, we develop a realistic age-structured mathematical model that integrates demography, social mixing, and immunity to establish a plausible range for future age incidence and mortality. With respect to COVID-19, we identify a plausible transition in the age structure of risks once the disease reaches seasonal endemism across a range of immunity durations and relative severity of primary versus subsequent reinfections. We train the model using diverse real-world demographies and age-structured mixing to bound expectations for changing age incidence and disease burden. The mathematical framework is flexible and can help tailor mitigation strategies in countries worldwide with varying demographies and social mixing patterns.
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