A world weary from its now third year of living in pandemic conditions has everyone asking if there’s an end in sight. With the onset of the highly transmissible Omicron variant expected to hit its peak later this month, there may actually be a light at the end of the COVID19 tunnel, says the nation’s top epidemiologist.
Since Omicron is highly transmissible but apparently less likely to cause as severe disease as some previous variants, it could mark a transition from this Covid-19 pandemic chapter to an endemic phase, when a virus can become a constant presence in a population but no longer affects an alarmingly large number of people or disrupt society, as typically seen in a pandemic.But there’s a big “if” attached to that, says Dr. Anthony Fauci. “That would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant,” Fauci told the Davos Agenda, a virtual event this week held by the World Economic Forum.
What next for COVID-19 vaccines?@Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announced over the weekend that COVAX, the vaccine-sharing facility, has now delivered one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.
— World Economic Forum (@Davos) January 17, 2022
“We were fortunate” that Omicron did not share some of the same characteristics as Delta, Dr. Fauci said. “But the sheer volume of people who are getting infected overrides that rather less level of pathogenicity.”
What does Dr Fauci and the FBI have in common tonight?
They both save lives and MAGA hates them for it.
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) January 16, 2022
“It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” Dr. Fauci said.
— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) January 11, 2022
But that doesn’t mean people should intentionally try to get the Omicron variant. Doctors say that’s a terrible idea for several reasons. And it doesn’t mean the battle against Covid-19 is over — especially as overwhelmed hospitals delay elective surgeries and schools switch to remote learning.
What are the possible scenarios for #COVID19 in 2022 and beyond? 🧐🔮
— London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (@LSHTM) January 17, 2022
To further get ahead of variants, new vaccines are under development. Moderna should have data available on its Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in March, company CEO Stephane Bancel said Monday.