The Omicron version of COVID is currently spreading at a record-breaking speed in the US and the rest of the world – but Bill Gates sees hope on the horizon.
Once the current surge ends, countries can expect to see “very few cases” for the rest of 2022, Gates wrote on Tuesday during one. Twitter Q&A With Devi Sridhar, Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh. Once that happens, Gates continued, Covid may “be treated more like the seasonal flu.”
The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist – an outspoken public health advocate who regularly weighs in on the COVID pandemic response – is not the first to make similar predictions. Some experts say the rapid spread of omicrons, while certainly alarming, could prompt enough people with so-called “natural immunity” to help steer the COVID pandemic into a much less severe “endemic” phase.
Gates touched on that scenario in his Twitter Q&A, predicting that “Omicron will create a lot of immunity, at least for the next year.” Timing matters: If enough countries can simultaneously maintain some level of immunity against COVID, whether vaccine-induced or otherwise, the circulation of the virus is slowed long enough to transition the pandemic into that endemic phase could.
Once Covid eventually becomes endemic, Gates said, “we may have to get annual shots for COVID for some time” – like annual flu shots.
The US on Monday reported a record 1.5 million new Covid cases, while also posting a new record for hospitalizations. But Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, has predicted that the current wave of Omicron cases will peak in the US by the end of January. And last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it expects a “sharp drop” in cases once Omicron passes away.