The staggering spike in COVID-19 cases across the country fueled primarily by the highly infectious Omicron variant has led many Americans to question how long it will take for the pandemic to finally subside for good. While no single crystal ball can provide an exact timeline, many medical experts help determine what may happen in the future.
The transition from an epidemic to an endemic for an infectious disease occurs when the virus is found regularly in a particular area or among people. The key difference in an endemic situation is that the virus is more manageable with greater population immunity.
The common cold and flu are examples of endemic viral infections that people frequently encounter. Dr. Bernard Cammins, medical director for infection prevention at Mount Sinai Health System, believes the Sars-Cov-2 virus will eventually become endemic over time.
“The definition of endemicity is that it [Sars-Cov-2] Will return annually, especially when winter comes. When it becomes endemic, however, it should not affect a large portion of the population – only certain groups,” Dr. Bernard Camins told NBC New York.
It may take a few years before Sars-Cov-2 disrupts widespread travel plans, increased hospitalization rates and health care systems, Dr. Camins says.
With the rapid spread of the Omicron type, what symptoms should you pay attention to?
Omicron may be lighter, but what about future variants?
It is important to understand that while cases of the Omicron type tend to be milder than others, another SARS-CoV-2 strain may very well manifest in the coming months with a different set of mutations or as a delta Viruses can pose a greater risk.
Most of the world is not immune. While most Americans and Europeans can be vaccinated, other countries, such as South Africa and India, are lagging behind in vaccination rates.
Dr. Betty Steinberg, a virologist at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, says it is possible and likely that the world will see more forms.
“Just as Omicron from South Africa did, variants will appear that have enough differences from the strains to which we have some immunity, to give us another spike,” suggests Dr. Steinberg. There will be more surges in the – hopefully, short-term.
Dr. Jeffrey Shaman is a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. He confirms that the COVID-19 vaccine will provide partial protection if that time comes just as it did during the delta spread.
There are two arguments about why mild infections can be caused by Sars-Cov-2, Dr. Shaman explained to NBC New York. On the one hand, when a pathogen remains in a host for a long time, it has a tendency to become more transmissible and less virulent.
“When a virus resides in a host, there is such a selection pressure that if one variant emerges that is more transmissible than other forms, it is going to move rapidly through the host population,” Dr Shaman said.
The winning, fast-paced version will outnumber competitors and either replace or displace contenders. However, Dr Shaman says there is an innate limit to how much a virus can physically mutate.
On the other hand, the doctor says that the framework for a mild virus is possible because it is harmful for a pathogen to kill its host. The rationale behind this idea is that if the virus kills its host before it can replicate and infect others, it is short-circuiting its entire reason for existence. This is only when the virus is transmitted before it can eliminate the host.
Most transmission of Sars-Cov-2 occurs before people experience symptoms, especially in severe cases. For Dr. Shaman, the pressure selected because of that logic is gone.
Furthermore, Dr. Shaman carefully points out that not enough people have died from Sars-Cov-2 compared to the total population.
“Because of underreporting, maybe 20 million people have died from COVID-19, which is a huge number, but it’s a decline in the 7.7 billion hosts, especially at the rate we reintroduce ourselves,” Dr. . Shaman explained.
For this researcher, this coronavirus has not yet exhausted its pool of infecting people, and there is not enough evidence to show a selective pressure toward a milder version.
Are we entering the endemic phase?
The bitter truth is that only time can tell. Expert outlook tells NBC New York that there is a chance the world could enter a post-pandemic phase this year.
But it will take years to understand this thing. The virus can move towards a certain pattern. Dr. Shaman probably gives the example of looking at a future where the world sees only two forms annually.
“For example, in 2022 we get three waves. In 2023, we get one wave. In 2024 and 2025, there are two waves, and by 2026 there is only one wave. We would say that there are about two types per year. that’s causing the outbreak, and it’s only looking at the five-year record that we’re going to start saying that’s the pattern [the virus has] Fell in,” Dr Shaman explained.
According to the latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been nearly 60,000,000 cases of COVID-19 in the US in the past 30 days, with more than 830,000 deaths.
In New York state alone, more than 90,000 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday. More than half of these, about 47,000 cases, were found in New York City.
New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul is “cautiously optimistic” that COVID trends show a slow rate of growth to trace Omicron to the Big Apple for the first time.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Valensky isn’t yet convinced that O’Micron has peaked for the nation just yet, but is hopeful after reviewing New York’s seemingly plateau numbers.
With a positive result of more than one in five COVID tests, patients who become ill with COVID-19 during the omicron surge may have some additional immunity. Dr. Steinberg noted that the success cases for thorough vaccination can act as a booster when it comes to immunity – at least for that type.
She points out whether this infection will confer immunity to a future variant is still a question, potentially due to further mutations. Due to the increased population being infected with Omicron, it may confer immunity for some time.
“Immunity lowers over time, and then you can become more vulnerable. But because so many people are infected right now, I suspect this particular surge isn’t going to last very long. The virus is going to be off target. It is,” said Dr. Steinberg.
With Omicron causing record infections in the US, many are left wondering which COVID-19 test is most effective.
How can we reach a post-pandemic world?
While there is no foresight to determine the exact date the world will enter the post-pandemic era, some scientists express that it may be time to change the public’s thought process.
Perhaps residents should come to terms with the concept that COVID-19 is here to stay, he says.
“Knowing what I know, in my opinion, we have to learn how to live with it. When we have this kind of growth, I’m not necessarily advocating for a re-lockdown or the closure of businesses.” But I think people need to be careful,” Dr Cammins said.
Dr. Steinberg says people can look at prevention of COVID-19 like dressing in layers for a cold – every extra helps.
“One layer is vaccination. The second layer is the fact that many people who get it will have some immunity, at least for a while. And the third layer will be the better treatment,” Dr. Steinberg explained.
Poorvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy and Asthma Network, says even minor stress can still have a negative impact on the health care system, such as delaying care for other emergencies.
“I hate that word ‘mild.’ . I think it’s a good sign at least stress. We’re starting to move in a direction that isn’t fatal, fingers crossed,” Dr. Parikh said.
With the rapid spread of the Omicron type of COVID-19, when are people who have contracted the virus most contagious?