Could the COVID-19 pandemic end with this omicron swelling if the virus becomes endemic? Here’s what experts say

SAN FRANCISCO – It is “reasonably likely” that the pandemic will close as soon as a month from today, although COVID-19 is likely to remain so, according to UCSF’s chair of the Department of Medicine, Dr. Robert Wachter.

He expects infections to fall and that levels of community immunity will increase from a combination of vaccinations, antiviral medications and omicron infections as the pandemic enters a new phase – becoming endemic.

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This sentiment is echoed by other experts of infectious diseases in the field.

“The end game really brings the virus down to low levels that we just live with. And what omicron will do is bring the virus down to low levels in the community, because it causes so much immunity,” says Dr. Monica Gandhi, a doctor of infectious diseases and professor of medicine at UCSF. “It brings it down to a controllable phase, which we call endemic. So after this surge, we need to be in the end game of the pandemic and in endemic.”

“In the next few weeks, we expect the numbers in California to start dropping pretty soon, and there’s evidence that that’s happening elsewhere as well. So what we really hope will happen is to move on to a phase where we know we have to live with this virus, “Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases) and Epidemiology and Population Health at Stanford Medicine, says Dr. Yvonne Maldonado.

All four interviewed doctors told ABC7 News in San Francisco that they believe the SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay, but cautiously express optimism that we are turning a corner for the better.

“It should end up being endemic at some point in time, so yeah, my guess is that it would be this year. I based that largely on what we see in other countries that are probably more common than we are. “The bottom line is that if we are to control transmission, we need to be vaccinated and stimulated,” said UCSF epidemiologist Dr. George Rutherford.

All four doctors point to vaccinations as the most important way to achieve endemic.

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“Out of 1.2 million people in one particular health study who were fully vaccinated, only 36 people died in that group. And there were about 2,500 infections. So it was about a 0.2% infection rate. So if you are vaccinated, and you are potentially exposed and infected with omicron, your risk of serious illness, death or other complications will be extremely low.So again, I can not stress enough how important it is for people to get vaccinated, because that will be our way out of this pandemic, “says Dr. Maldonado.

“I think there’s a chance we could get rid of the pandemic – which means big leaps of hospitalizations and deaths, and maybe get to a point where we have a circulation of the virus with fewer hospitals. and deaths and maybe the same or more infections, but not leading to the bad results. And we need to learn how to live with that with vaccinations. And and we need to learn more about whether we can stop masking at some point later this year. the disease becomes less severe, “she says.

Dr. However, Wachter says while he may project a fall from infections with some confidence for spring and maybe summer, he is not so sure to say the same about fall and winter later this year. “It depends a lot on whether there is a new and worse variant.”

He says how much immunity from an omicron infection alone is not yet known. “For non-vaccinated people, if their only immunity is from an infection, it really all depends on how good that immunity is and how long it lasts. If it starts to decline, and they are vulnerable again, then we can “I see another significant upheaval. But I’m moderately optimistic,” he said. Wachter.

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