Story at a glance
- Many health experts believe COVID-19 will eventually become endemic.
- That’s a state where the virus would continue to circulate but people would have gained enough immunity to it through vaccinations and natural infection.
- Wisconsin’s chief medical officer predicted COVID-19 could become endemic this year.
As the U.S. continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic, one state health official is making an optimistic prediction that the pandemic could be nearing its end phase.
Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, said on Thursday that COVID-19 could become endemic by the end of 2022, according to The Associated Press.
Westergaard still warned that periodically cases of COVID-19 could surge, but the disease was likely nearing a point where case numbers would remain constant.
Many scientists have predicted that COVID-19 will not be completely eradicated, but rather enter a status known as endemic. That means COVID-19 would continue to circulate, but people would have gained enough immunity to the virus from vaccination and natural infection that there would be significantly less transmission.
According to the AP, Westergaard did not elaborate on his prediction of when COVID-19 would enter its endemic phase, conceding that was difficult to predict.
A group of associate professors of immunology and infectious diseases at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health also explained how figuring out when the pandemic would transition to endemic is challenging.
“It’s dependent on factors like the strength and duration of immune protection from vaccination and natural infection, our patterns of contact with one another that allow spread, and the transmissibility of the virus,” said the Harvard professors.
However, across the country each state is seeing a different set of case trends, like in New York where new cases have dropped by 90 percent over the last month while in California the state is reporting 1 million new COVID-19 cases in just one week.
At the same time, scientists are also monitoring BA.2, a new omicron subvariant that’s been identified in roughly 50 countries. So far, the World Health Organization has only asked countries to monitor BA.2 and that it, “should be prioritized independently.”
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