Residents wait in line at a Covid-19 mobile testing site in the Times Square neighborhood of New York, U.S., on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.
Jeenah Moon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Senior U.S. health officials have sought to reassure a pandemic-weary public that the country is moving closer to a time when Covid-19 won’t dominate our daily lives, as an unprecedented surge of infections and hospitalizations declines in many parts of the country.
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview this week the U.S. is heading out of the “full-blown pandemic phase” of Covid-19. Fauci has made clear the U.S. won’t eradicate Covid, but he’s confident the nation can bring the virus under control so it no longer threatens to push hospitals to their breaking point or disrupt the economy. At that moment, people could return to a semblance of normal life after two years of disruption and uncertainty following repeated waves of infection.
“The president has been clear that we’re moving toward a time when Covid won’t disrupt our daily lives, a time when Covid won’t be a constant crisis so we’re no longer fearing lockdowns and shutdowns, but getting back to safely doing what we all love,” Jeff Zients, the White House’s Covid response coordinator, said during a news conference Wednesday.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, answers questions during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing to examine the federal response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and new emerging variants at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S. January 11, 2022.
Greg Nash | Reuters
Real-world studies from around the globe have demonstrated that the omicron variant, though more contagious, generally doesn’t make people as sick as delta. While infections have skyrocketed, hospitalizations and deaths have not risen at the same rate.
Doctors and infectious disease experts in South Africa, in a recent study, said the variant’s rapid surge and decline in that country demonstrated a significantly different trajectory than past strains. They say it could be a sign the pandemic will transition into an endemic phase that is less disruptive to society.
“Endemic in general means where you have disease that occurs at a regular and predictable level,” said Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease expert at the University of Nebraska. “There’s endemic flu and then there’s epidemics of flu every season. Those epidemics generally are predictable and occur within a forecasted range.”
There isn’t a precise definition of endemic. The World Health Organization generally defines pandemic as uncontrolled spread of a virus across the globe, and an epidemic is when the spread is limited to a country or region. A steady level of transmission that doesn’t result in a widespread outbreak is generally considered endemic.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press…
Read More: No one knows when the pandemic will end after omicron upended most