We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus ... where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death. — Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist leading the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 response
We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus ... where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death. — Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist leading the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 response
Country by Country, Scientists Eye Beginning of an End to the COVID-19 Pandemic
As the devastating Delta variant surge eases in many regions of the world, scientists are charting when, and where, COVID-19 will transition to an endemic disease in 2022 and beyond, according to Reuters interviews with over a dozen leading disease experts.

They expect that the first countries to emerge from the pandemic will have had some combination of high rates of vaccination and natural immunity among people who were infected with the coronavirus, such as the United States, the UK, Portugal and India. But they warn that SARS-CoV-2 remains an unpredictable virus that is mutating as it spreads through unvaccinated populations.

None would completely rule out what some called a "doomsday scenario," in which the virus mutates to the point that it evades hard-won immunity. Yet they expressed increasing confidence that many countries will have put the worst of the pandemic behind them in the coming year.

"We think between now and the end of 2022, this is the point where we get control over this virus ... where we can significantly reduce severe disease and death," Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist leading the World Health Organization's (WHO) COVID-19 response, told Reuters.

The agency's view is based on work with disease experts who are mapping out the probable course of the pandemic over the next 18 months. By the end of 2022, the WHO aims for 70% of the world's population to be vaccinated.

"If we reach that target, we will be in a very, very different situation epidemiologically," Van Kerkhove said.

In the meantime, she worries about countries lifting COVID precautions prematurely. "It's amazing to me to be seeing, you know, people out on the streets, as if everything is over."

... COVID-19 is still expected to remain a major contributor to illness and death for years to come, much like other endemic illnesses such as malaria.

"Endemic does not mean benign," Van Kerkhove said.

Some experts say the virus will eventually behave more like measles, which still causes outbreaks in populations where vaccination coverage is low.

Others see COVID-19 becoming more a seasonal respiratory disease such as influenza. Or, the virus could become less of a killer, affecting mostly children, but that could take decades, some said.
Read the full article: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/962177