We’ve gotten a better understanding of how to protect ourselves against COVID, new Omicron-specific boosters are being rolled out, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped COVID-19 quarantine and distancing recommendations, and many people have thrown off their masks and returned to pre-pandemic activities. Additionally, the number of new coronavirus cases fell everywhere in the world last week by about 12%, according to the World Health Organization’s latest weekly review of the pandemic. This means COVID is coming to an end right? Not exactly. In fact, scientists believe the pandemic will linger far into the future.
“This is very encouraging, but there is no guarantee these trends will persist,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press briefing. “The most dangerous thing is to assume (that) they will,” he said. Even though the number of weekly reported deaths has plummeted more than 80% since February, one person still dies from COVID-19 every 44 seconds, according to Ghebreyesus.
Why has the pandemic lasted so long?
One reason the pandemic has lasted this long? It’s gotten better and better at getting around immunity from vaccination and past infection. According to scientists, emerging research suggests the latest Omicron variant is gaining ground in the U.S. BA.4.6, which was responsible for around 8% of new U.S. infections last week also appears to be even better at evading the immune system than the dominant BA.5.
Based on this information, scientists believe that the virus will continue to evolve.
How long will COVID be around?
In fact, White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha says COVID will likely be with us for the rest of our lives.
According to experts, COVID-19 will most likely become endemic. This means it will occur regularly in certain areas. However, they don’t believe this will happen anytime soon.
The virus “just has too many ways to work around our current strategies, and it’ll just keep finding people, finding them again, and self-perpetuating,” Eric Topol, head of Scripps Research Translational Institute says.
The good news, however, is that we are getting better at fighting it as long as we don’t slip backward.
“Obviously if we take our foot off the gas — if we stop updating our vaccines, we stop getting new treatments — then we could