By now most of us have pandemic fatigue and just want COVID to stop mutating and go away. “The country’s over with us with this pandemic,” says Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “The problem is the virus isn’t over with us. It will find you, you can’t on the game clock out on this one. And even those who are partially vaccinated, with what one time would’ve been at least some protection against the virus will likely yield very little protection against this one, unless you have your full three doses. And so I think we just have to continue to keep hitting that home. And again, if you don’t get vaccinated, this virus we’ll find you.” While experts are working towards an endemic, how quickly it can happen depends on various factors. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to doctors who reveal their thoughts on when the pandemic will end. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Infectious disease expert and pioneering scientific researcher Dr. Serhat Gumrukcu says, “All viruses evolve through several mutations that occur when they travel from host to host. The COVID-19 virus has already been through several mutations, however not all variants have been able to break through the human immune barrier. With an increase in the rate of fully vaccinated individuals — combined with COVID-19 drugs newly approved by the FDA, we might be able to reach an endemic stage with this virus while we also learn to live with it. Hence, there are too many factors at play to guesstimate an exact end date—very similar to the Influenza that appears each year. However, with all the advances we are making with COVID-19 vaccines and drug treatments, COVID might end up being less of a threat in the coming years.” Want an actual date? Keep reading for the prediction.
LetsGetChecked’s Executive Director of Epidemiology, Dr. Gwen Murphy, Ph.D., MPH states, “A threat anywhere is a threat everywhere and this is what we are seeing now with the omicron variant. As long as coronavirus is circulating somewhere in the world there is a threat of a variant developing which evades the vaccines. So getting full vaccination cover across the globe has to be a priority. In addition to this we know that vaccinated people can still pick up and transmit the virus so we need to get used to masking, social distancing and regular testing being part of life for now. There is a way out of the pandemic but it is not coming soon and in the meantime we need to look after ourselves and our communities.”
Dr. Robert G. Lahita MD, Ph.D. (aka “Dr. Bob”), Director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of IMMUNITY STRONG (January 5, 2022) says, “Other than getting vaccinated, there’s nothing people can do to help end the pandemic. They should become a vaccine advocate for themselves and others. My prediction is that if you’re not vaccinated you’re going to get Covid at some point, whether you like it or not.”
“I think it will become endemic by 2023, which should be enough time for us to get more people vaccinated and build our immunity,” Dr. Bob states. “I hope that by 2023, enough people will be vaccinated and build immunity that the pandemic will be able to transition to being endemic, like the flu, with yearly shots for everyone and no more masking / other restrictions. I also hope people will continue to learn how their immune systems work and what will / will not make them stronger. As I keep saying, diet, exercise, sex, and stress relief all contribute to a stronger immune system.”
According to Dr. Bob, “It means the pandemic will become “endemic” just like the flu. It will still be around with us in some form, but we won’t have to do all of the current precautions like masking and restricting travel.”
“When Covid is gone, there will be no masks or restrictions,” Dr. Bob explains. “We will have to get a booster shot every year, most likely, just like the flu. I expect there will be more home tests and a variety of ways to test for Covid ourselves if we come down with symptoms. I think in 2023 they will lift requirements to show vaccine cards in order to enter businesses or travel.”
Dr. Bob says, “Omicron spreads 70x more easily than the Delta variant. Symptoms will likely be mild with Omicron, and in general, if you are vaccinated you will experience less severe symptoms with any of the Covid variants. If you are not vaccinated, you may end up in the hospital – or die – if you catch the more severe variants like Delta.”
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don’t travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don’t go indoors with people you’re not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.