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Why the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t hit endgame yet

Will COVID end soon? The WHO doesn’t think so

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Passengers at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London.

Passengers arrive at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in London, Aug. 2, 2021. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday Jan. 24, 2022, his government will remove coronavirus testing requirements for vaccinated people arriving in England, news hailed by the travel industry as a big step back to normality.

Matt Dunham, Associated Press

The World Health Organization cautioned against assuming the COVID-19 pandemic has reached its endgame.

The news: Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), said Monday that it’s dangerous to assume the omicron variant would signal the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, per Reuters.

  • He said “ending the acute phase of the pandemic must remain our collective priority.”
  • “There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” he added.
  • “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”

Why this matters: Many experts have expressed omicron’s transmissibility as a potential COVID-19 endgame. But the WHO’s comments signal the pandemic may not end anytime soon.

Flashback: There’s been an ongoing theory that the omicron variant could lead to the end of the pandemic because the variant is more contagious and transmissible than other variants, as I reported for Deseret News.

  • “The theory is that, if a less virulent strain becomes dominant, more people will become infected but fewer will be critically sick,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. “The virus, while still a problem, also becomes part of the solution; every person who recovers from a mild case is left with greater immunity against future infections than any of the current vaccines provide.”