When will the COVID-19 pandemic end? Experts weigh in

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With concern about the new Omicron variant spreading, you may be asking yourself will this pandemic ever end?

Health officials say they are still cautiously optimistic about things eventually winding down.

Health experts say the key word is adapt, and they say there won’t be a day when COVID-19 is gone forever.

“Everyone wants there to be an end day, a day when we declare the pandemic is over. no one asks about when it the end of the flu for example. This is a disease that will be us, for the foreseeable future, it’s going to come and go,” said Dr. David Dowdy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Instead, we’ll be shifting to a new normal where the COVID-19 virus comes and goes like other viruses.

Compared to last year, Dr. Dowdy said we have more tools to combat COVID-19 like several vaccines, new treatments and more immunity.

Similar to the flu, experts say in the future, there will likely be winter surges of COVID-19 and even local outbreaks.

Doctors say the goal is to boost immunity levels to the point where the levels of serious illness, hospitalizations and death are limited.

“The question really is how can we get levels of serious illness, people having long term effects, being in the hospital and in unfortunate cases dying, how can we get that to a level that we can tolerate as a society? We need to be thinking in those terms not how can we get to a point of zero covid. Because zero covid is not going to happen,” said Dowdy.

But experts say we can’t think about an endgame to COVID-19 without increasing vaccination rates.

“More than a third of the people in the U.S. who haven’t been vaccinated say they are still willing to get the shot, and more than half the world’s population isn’t vaccinated so our number one public health priority remains getting as many people full vaccinated as possible,” said Dowdy.

Experts estimate vaccinating young kids could prevent 600,000 infections within the next few months.