When will COVID end?

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Leila Touati

With mass immunization, it is possible that masks and social distancing may not be as necessary in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic won’t end, but not in the way we expect. It is anticipated, with herd immunity, for COVID-19 to end up being like the common cold, held back by vaccines and mass immunization.

As seen with Delta and Omicron, coronavirus mutates, fleeing past the constraints of a vaccine and becoming more contagious and powerful. Omicron has spread twice as fast as the Delta variant in South Africa, and officials expect 200,000 people to be infected by the virus in Britain every day.

“If we can get through this winter, I hope we can get some good control in the spring of 2022,” said Fauci.

The future of the coronavirus

COVID-19 won’t ever disappear from America, much less the world. Currently, computer models predict that COVID-19 will become a “mild, flu-like illness” like the common cold. 

“We are certainly not going to eradicate it,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “What I think we’ll be able to do is get a level of control.”

There are two criteria for COVID-19 to be considered a common cold. First, immunization needs to continually prevent major illness and hospitalization. Additionally, cases in children must be relatively mild. So far, COVID-19’s progression seems to fit these criteria.

So what can we do?

What we should achieve is widespread immunization. One possible scenario is that, if we are able to vaccinate a huge majority of people, this virus will circulate but will not do much damage,” said Roberto Brioni in a CNN interview.

During a Reuters Total Health conference on Tuesday, Fauci confirmed that the coronavirus could be downgraded to an endemic: a level of infection so low it would not affect daily life. At the earliest, if enough adults get a vaccine and booster shot, we could reach that stage by the spring of 2022.

We can’t be hopeful that coronavirus will disappear from the face of the earth, because that’s not how the world works. Even if 100% of all Americans get the vaccine, this doesn’t mean that the transmission of COVID-19 will completely stop. 

While COVID-19 is here to stay, that doesn’t mean that the pandemic will. But with mass immunization, we may see the finish line of a global epidemic.