Will Omicron spell the end of COVID-19?
Not Sure. Only time will tell. But some experts are now saying the variant could change everything.
“World health officials are offering hope that the ebbing of the omicron wave could give way to a new, more manageable phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as they warn of difficult weeks ahead and the possibility of another, more dangerous variant arising,” Fox News reported.
The news network cited Dr. Christopher Murray of the University of Washington, who developed the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation model, which projects that “nearly all nations will be past the omicron wave by mid-March… The wave will leave behind high levels of immunity — both from infection and vaccination — that could lead to low levels of transmission for many weeks or months.”
What happens then? “We end up with the highest levels of global immunity that we’ve seen in the pandemic,” Murray said. His model estimated that 57% of the global population has already been infected with the virus at least once.
But we’re not through this thing yet.
“Even if we project a more optimistic future, right now we still have a lot of COVID spreading, a lot of strain in our hospital systems, and our deaths have not yet peaked,” Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, told Fox. “There’s still a lot of pain before omicron has run its course,” Meyers said, but added: “It’s very plausible that Omicron will be a turning point in terms of our relationship with this virus.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) is more pessimistic. The worldwide scourge of COVID-19 last week entered its third year in the U.S., which means David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy for COVID-19, is predicting it won’t be until 2024 that we see an end.
“What people are seeing from around the world and reporting to the WHO is this is still a very, very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and who’ve not been exposed to it before,” Nabarro told Sky News, according to The Daily Mail.
“The end is in sight, but how long is it going to take to get there? What sort of difficulties will we face on the way? Those are the questions that none of us can answer because this virus continues to give us challenges and surprises,” Nabarro said.
“It’s as though we’re just passing the halfway mark in a marathon and we can see that yes, there is an end and fast runners are getting through ahead of us. But we’ve still got a long, long way to trudge and it’s going to be tough,” he said.
The envoy also warned officials not to compare COVID-19 to the flu — following Britain’s decision to do just that — saying it is irresponsible because it implies the virus, and its now-dominant strain “has suddenly got incredibly weak.”
He told Sky News the virus “can also mutate and form variants and we’ve seen several but we know there are more not far away. So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else — it’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty and rather cunning.”
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to email@example.com.