Omicron-end of the pandemic?

4 min read

Omicron has changed the form of the pandemic. Will it end well?

The world feared the worst when a disturbing new variant of the coronavirus appeared in late November and exploded in South Africa at an unprecedented rate in the pandemic.

But two months later, with Omicron dominating much of the globe, the story has changed for some.
"Omicron levels of concern tend to be lower than with previous variants," Simon Williams, a researcher on public attitudes and behaviors toward Covid-19 at Swansea University, told CNN. "For many people, the 'Covid fear factor' is lower," he said.

The reduced severity of Omicron compared to previous variants and the perceived likelihood that individuals will eventually become infected have contributed to that relaxation in people's minds, Williams said. This has even led some people to actively seek out the disease to "pass it on" - a practice that experts have strongly warned against.
But some within the scientific community are cautiously optimistic that Omicron could be the latest act of pandemic - providing large areas of the world with "an immune layer" and bringing us closer to an endemic stage when Covid-19 is comparable to seasonal diseases. like colds or flu.

"My view is that it is becoming endemic and will continue to be endemic for some time, as it has been with other coronaviruses," said David Heymann, professor of epidemiology at Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"All viruses try to become endemic and I think they are succeeding," he said.

The Covid-19 has evolved with great unpredictability and the variant that replaced Delta could have been worse, experts say; but the world eventually took on a dominant strain that is engulfing populations with ease, without causing the same rate of hospitalization, serious illness, and death that previous variants have done.

Experts warn that there may be obstacles along the way - just as the Omicron lineup was unexpected, the other variant could pose a more serious risk to public health and delay the end of the pandemic.
And many countries, especially where vaccination coverage is low, may still face overcrowded hospitals due to the current Omicron wave.
But a political urgency is emerging across much of the West to return societies to a sense of normalcy - with Omicron's transmission forcing leaders to choose between returning to public health measures or seeing the workforce and economies of their risk of being blocked.

And for the first time since the spread of Covid-19 stunned the world in early 2020, some epidemiologists and executives are willing to entertain the prospect that the virus may be taking steps toward endemic status.
"Rules of the game have changed"
The question that scientists and the wider society will face throughout 2022 is when Covid-19 will leave its current phase and enter the endemic.
A disease that is endemic has a persistent presence in a population but does not affect an extremely large number of people or disrupt society, as is commonly seen in a pandemic.

Experts do not expect Covid to disappear completely at any time in our lives. Instead, Omicron will eventually reach a period similar to some other diseases, where "most people will be infected as children, perhaps many times, and as those infections accumulate, they develop an immunity," according to Mark Woolhouse , professor of infectious diseases. epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and author of a book on the early stages of the pandemic, says a longer report by CNN./ed-21Media