Could the end of the pandemic be on the horizon? New data suggests that the high-transmission rate of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which is ripping its way through the U.S. population leaving antibodies in its wake, could possibly result in herd immunity.
“Sometimes a rapid-fire could burn through very quickly,” says world-renowned virologist Dr. David Ho in a recent CNBC report, “but then put itself out.”
Is herd immunity on the horizon?
Although Dr. Ho’s theory is a speculative one, it is agreed upon by other experts. According to Dr. Bruce Farber, Northwell Health’s chief of infectious diseases, the “best-case scenario” of the coronavirus would be a highly contagious variant that doesn’t make most people particularly sick and creates a temporary baseline of immunity.
“It could certainly help end large spikes of deadly COVID with high hospitalizations,” he adds.
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shared his belief that the country’s focus should pivot away from case count numbers to the severity of cases. “As you get further on and the infections become less severe,” he says, “it is much more relevant to focus on the hospitalizations as opposed to the total number of cases.”
Fortunately, although the Omicron variant is highly contagious, it has so far caused less hospitalization and death —particularly among those that are vaccinated.
According to new data, 62% of the U.S. population have received some form of a vaccine, but only 30% have received a booster shot, which improves protection.
As many as 73% of COVID cases in the country have been tied to Omicron. Just before Christmas, Dr. Fauci made an appearance on Good Morning America to discuss the rapid spread of Omicron. It is “truly unprecedented in the rapidity at which it spreads,” Dr. Fauci said at the time.
Will COVID ever disappear?
The idea of the pandemic ending may sound promising. We all want the world to return to normal life. However, scientists warn that it is highly unlikely that COVID will ever disappear completely.
“This virus is so well adapted for human-to-human transmission that it’s never going to go away,” Dr. Timothy Brewer says. “There will be periods when there will be more cases and [fewer] cases, just like it occurs with influenza every year.”
The good news, however, is that disease authorities maintain their theory that the coronavirus will weaken, and