Omicron Could End Pandemic, Limit Future Covid Severity, Study Shows
Though there are warnings that omicron won't be the "final" variant of covid, a new study says omicron really could be the final chapter of the pandemic and end the global health emergency since it causes less serious illness and leads to protection against the delta variant.
COVID-19 Health Emergency Could Be Over This Year, WHO Says
The worst of the coronavirus pandemic — deaths, hospitalizations and lockdowns — could be over this year if huge inequities in vaccinations and medicines are addressed quickly, the head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said Tuesday. Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking during a panel discussion on vaccine inequity hosted by the World Economic Forum, said “we may never end the virus” because such pandemic viruses “end up becoming part of the ecosystem.” (Keaten, 1/18)
Omicron May Cut Future Severity Of Coronavirus, Study Shows
A strong wave of coronavirus infections driven by the omicron variant could hasten the end of pandemic disruptions as it appears to cause less severe illness and provides protection against the delta variant, South Africa-based researchers said. A laboratory study that used samples from 23 people infected with the omicron variant in November and December found that while those who previously caught the delta variant could contract omicron, those who get the omicron strain couldn’t be infected with delta, particularly if they have been vaccinated, the researchers said. Results among the unvaccinated were unclear, as was whether they had been previously infected. (Sguazzin, 1/18)
WHO Says Omicron Won't Be Last Covid Variant As Global Cases Surge By 20% In A Week
The World Health Organization on Tuesday said the pandemic will not end as the omicron variant subsides in some countries, warning the high levels of infection around the world will likely lead to new variants as the virus mutates. “We’re hearing a lot of people suggest that omicron is the last variant, that it’s over after this. And that is not the case because this virus is circulating at a very intense level around the world,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical lead, said during a coronavirus update in Geneva. (Kimball, 1/18)
South Africa Is Over Omicron, And Their Good News May Be A Harbinger Of Hope For The U.S.
Only eight weeks after the world first heard about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, when researchers in South Africa who discovered the strain notified global authorities, that country's wave of infections has fallen as sharply as it climbed. Not only that, but South Africa has weathered its fourth wave of COVID-19 with very little interruption to people's lives. CBS News foreign correspondent Debora Patta reports that in the suburbs of Johannesburg, restaurants are busy again, traffic is jammed, and the city is bustling. (1/18)
The End Of The Omicron Wave Is In Sight
The Omicron wave is likely beginning to recede in the U.S., experts say. Omicron is still wreaking havoc in parts of the country, but infectious disease experts are optimistic that relief is around the corner. In South Africa and in the U.K., which experienced their Omicron waves before the U.S., cases spiked dramatically and then fell almost as quickly. That appears to be happening now in parts of the U.S. that got hit with the variant early, including Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. (Reed, 1/19)
After Omicron, We Could Use A Break. We May Just Get It
By month 25 of the Covid-19 pandemic, we all probably should have learned not to try to anticipate what the SARS-CoV-2 virus is going to do next. It has so consistently defied predictions. But the tsunami that is the Omicron wave is tempting us all the same, in large part because of an inescapable fact: By the time it crashes, the immunological landscape in this country — and in much of the world — is going to be profoundly altered. Far more people will have some immunity to Covid-19 than was the case before the wave began. Many will have what is effectively hybrid immunity, from vaccination and infection. (Branswell, 1/19)
The Forever Virus: What Science Says About The Future Of COVID
It is possible, but far from certain, that the Omicron onslaught marks the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The optimistic scenario goes something like this: Once Omicron is through ravaging the world, enough people will have acquired natural immunity that, together with those who have been vaccinated, the virus is suppressed to more or less permanently low levels in the population. When—if—that happy day arrives, the world will begin making the transition from continual crisis to something more manageable—a slow-boiling concern that keeps scientists and public-health officials occupied but leaves the rest of humanity free to go about the daily business of life. (Potter and Guterl, 1/19)