New York City residents line up at a COVID-19 testing station in Times Square – Photo: AP
Just a few weeks ago, the US was on track to end the pandemic by 2022. Then, the Omicron variant hit, rapidly accounting for 73% of new COVID-19 infections in a very short time, according to CNBC Television.
According to the researchers, the high transmission rate of Omicron is dangerous for unvaccinated people. At the same time, the number of hospitalizations and deaths could increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months. However, according to experts, the remaining immune population may appear “herd immunity”.
Dr. David Ho, a world-renowned virologist and a professor at Columbia University (USA), said: “As all those working in the field of public health have said, sometimes the fire can burns very quickly but then extinguishes itself.”
Notably, the waiting time for natural herd immunity will be slower than vaccine-supported immunity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 62% of the US population is fully vaccinated with 2 doses and 30% of these people have received 3 doses. This is a very important indicator to enhanced ability to protect people against Omicron.
Dr Bruce Farber, director of infectious diseases at New Hyde Park Hospital (part of the New York City-based Northwell Health hospital network), said the “best case” would be a very easy variant of the virus. spread without making most people very sick. This variant will help create herd immunity.
“It can certainly help end the high numbers of deaths and high hospitalizations,” Mr Farber said.
The Omicron variant initially has good signs: Although the infection rate is very fast, many countries have reported mild disease and low mortality. However, scientists are still very cautious, saying that more time is needed to see more of its long-term effects in the population.
In South Africa, where the variant was first detected in November, hospitalizations and deaths have remained relatively low despite a sharp increase in new infections.
“However, if much of the world remains unvaccinated, the SARS-CoV-2 virus will continue to spread and mutate,” he said. That means the future of the pandemic is highly uncertain, even if experts agree that COVID-19 will eventually become an endemic and potentially seasonal epidemic.
Dr. Timothy Brewer, professor of medicine specializing in infectious diseases at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA), agrees with Mr. Farber.
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus will never go away completely. Rather, people will have to learn to live with it. Regular vaccinations and antiviral treatment will lead to COVID-19 outbreaks.” -19 is significantly less severe in the coming years,” Brewer predicted.