Despite the Omicron surge, scientists believe the pandemic is nearing its end

With Omicron cases on the rise, one might despairingly wonder when — or even if — this pandemic will end. Despite the high infection rates, scientists are cautiously optimistic that the variant may be a sign that the virus is losing its power.

We won’t be able to completely eradicate Covid-19, but it will transition from pandemic to endemic status.

Because the virus is endemic, it will continue to circulate in parts of the global population for years, but its prevalence and impact will decline to manageable levels, making it more akin to the flu than a world-ending disease.

According to a string of new studies, it has been confirmed that even as case numbers soar to records, the numbers of severe cases and hospitalizations have not. The data, some scientists say, signal a new, less worrying chapter of the pandemic.

Monica Gandhi, an immunologist at the University of California, San Francisco, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “We’re now in a completely different phase.” The virus will always be with us, but my hope is that this variant generates enough immunity to prevent a pandemic.”

The Omicron variant was discovered in South Africa just over a month ago, and experts warn that there is still plenty of time for things to change. However, recent data indicate that a combination of widespread immunity and numerous mutations has resulted in a virus that causes far less severe disease than previous iterations.

According to one South African study, patients admitted to the hospital during the virus’s omicron-dominated fourth wave were 73% less likely to have the severe disease than patients admitted during the delta-dominated third wave. According to the report, “the data is quite solid now that hospitalizations and cases are decoupled,” said Wendy Burgers, an immunologist at the University of Cape Town.

Several factors appear to have contributed to the omicron variant being less virulent, or severe, than previous Covid-19 waves. The virus’s ability to infect the lungs is one factor. Covid infections usually begin in the nose and progress down the throat. A mild infection rarely progresses beyond the upper respiratory tract, but when the virus reaches the lungs, more severe symptoms usually develop.

Even though omicron appears to cause milder disease than previous variants, a significant increase in cases could result in a significant increase in hospitalizations and deaths. This could put even more strain on already overburdened healthcare systems. But there are some things to be optimistic about. Vaccinations and boosters are also contributing to “a significant immunity wall that’s being built,” in addition to omicron potentially building up some immunity in the vast majority of people who become infected with it.

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