After the rapid spread of the Omicron variant around the world, the pandemic caused by COVID-19 could become an endemic, or another disease that occurs from time to time in a region.
"In many scientific circles, there is talk that the Omicron will allow us to move from a pandemic to an endemic. We are going to coexist with this virus, as we coexist with all the viruses that have attacked in the history of mankind," Miguel Palacios Celi, dean of the Peruvian Medical Association, told RPP.
Unlike the pandemic the whole world has lived under since Jan. 30, 2020 when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced COVID-19, an endemic is a disease that occurs regularly in certain regions. When a disease becomes endemic, the number of people who become ill remains relatively constant over time.
Also, the number of cases is higher than in other areas, but does not increase over time. Over a certain period, approximately the same number of people repeatedly contract the disease.
In May 2020, the WHO predicted that the coronavirus could become endemic. The delta and omicron variants have shown how adaptable the virus is, just like influenza.
The future of COVID-19
One possible evolution is for it to become a lifelong virus, but it is still premature to know this and also to mention that it is the beginning of the end of SARS-CoV-2.
The journal Nature surveyed 100 immunological scientists, most of whom said that the coronavirus could become endemic like other diseases, such as malaria, influenza and dengue fever.
"Eradicating this virus from the world right now is a lot like trying to plan to build a stairway to the moon. It's not realistic," said Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota.