The World Health Organization (WHO) warns of the view that Covid-19 will no longer be dangerous if it becomes an endemic disease.
“People often talk about pandemics and endemic diseases,” Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency program director, said at the World Economic Forum’s online meeting on January 18, referring to Endemic diseases such as malaria and HIV cause hundreds of thousands of deaths.
“Endemic disease doesn’t mean good, endemic disease just means it will last forever,” said expert Ryan at the roundtable on vaccine equity.
The Omicron variant was first discovered in Africa and has spread to about 150 countries around the world. According to a study by scientists in Hong Kong, compared to the Delta variant, Omicron can replicate 70 times faster in the upper respiratory tract, leading to a higher risk of spreading.
Early studies indicate that, despite being more contagious, Omicron seems to cause milder symptoms than other strains of SARS-CoV-2.
Since Omicron appears to pose less of a risk of serious illness than Delta, the emergence of this variant has raised hopes that this will be the start of a trend of the virus becoming milder, becoming more infectious. endemic like the common cold and epidemics will no longer be as dangerous. Some scientists even believe that Omicron could mark the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“What we need to do is reduce the infection rate by immunizing as much of our population as possible, so that no one has to die. In my view, that will end the emergency. That’s the end of the pandemic,” Ryan added.
Mr. Ryan predicted that the wave of deaths and hospitalizations could end by the end of 2022 through public health measures, in which the leading measure is vaccination.
“However, we will not eradicate the virus this year. We may never eradicate the virus. Pandemic viruses will become part of the ecosystem. What we can do is end the public health emergency,” Ryan said.
The WHO expert also mentioned the possibility of injecting 3-4 doses of the vaccine to enhance long-term protection against the risk of serious disease.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 17, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading US epidemiologist and medical adviser to President Joe Biden, said that it is still too early to say for sure. whether the Omicron strain signaled the transition of Covid-19 from a global pandemic to an endemic disease.
Earlier, research by South African, American and British scientists showed that antibodies produced during Omicron infection can protect humans from Delta as well as other strains and Omicron may be the type ” natural vaccine” to repel the epidemic wave. Experts say that the future pandemic scenario may be more positive.
The CEO of vaccine maker Pfizer, Albert Bourla, thinks life could soon return to normal. Moderna’s chairman and co-founder, Noubar Afeyan, also predicts that “2022 could be the year when the pandemic enters the endemic phase, but that depends on what happens in reality and decisions are made around the world”.
The WHO representative in Russia Melita Vujnovic on January 16 said that the way the Covid-19 pandemic develops shows that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will never completely disappear, instead it will circulate as a disease. endemic.