PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — With the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant of COVID-19, many Oregon residents are wondering when they will see the end of the pandemic, or be able to return to normal activities.
With that in mind, FOX-12’s Simon Gutierrez spoke to two local virus experts to get their opinion. Here are some excerpts from those conversations:
dr. Ken Stedman studies viruses at Portland State University.
Gutierrez: Initially there was an idea that we could eradicate the pandemic if enough people are vaccinated, if there is enough herd immunity. Now the tone has shifted a bit to this is something we will have to live with. Is that the reality, that in the near future this will just be there and infect people?
Stedman: We do not know. As far as these matters are concerned, we can only guess. But we do know that there are coronaviruses, the common cold coronaviruses, that are constantly circulating in all people. And if there’s a model at all, that’s probably what’s going to happen in terms of what’s happening in terms of SARS-CoV2. Most of those people who get infected with some of these common cold coronaviruses have the sniffles. You know, cold. Not a big problem. What I think is going to happen with SARS CoV2 is ultimately, and don’t ask me for how long because I don’t know, that’s probably what’s going to happen in terms of SARS CoV2.
dr. Bill Messer studies viral genetics at OHSU and has led genetic sequencing efforts on COVID-19 variants.
Gutierrez: All we’re hearing now is that we’re going to have to live with COVID-19 for a while, several years, if not forever. Do you understand that? I’ve also heard that the virus may continue to evolve in a certain way to become more like a common cold, so less severe.
messer: Yeah, I mean, both are possibilities. They are certainly not mutually exclusive. As the Austrian President said recently, we are all vaccinated, recovered or dead at some point.
Gutierrez: A few months after the pandemic, everyone was wondering when we’re going to get back to normal. Two years later, everyone is still wondering when we will go back to normal. Is there a possibility that we’re just not going to go back to normal, that we’re going to have to deal with some of these measures for years, like masking, restricting gatherings, that sort of thing?
messer: The answer I’m starting to think or have come up with is that it will probably be seasonal. There will probably be times of the year or years where we will say, oh, the transmission of COVID is really going on in the community. Probably time to start wearing masks. Probably time to limit indoor gatherings. And then in the summer, a lot of those restrictions will probably go away.
Southeast Asia where they see a lot of seasonal flu, wearing masks is something much more common, was more common before COVID. And we may need to catch up on that practice a bit. Recognize seasonality, recognize risks and be able to bend.
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