What the end of the pandemic could look like – Community News
Covid-19

What the end of the pandemic could look like

It is highly unlikely that the United States, let alone the world, will be able to completely eliminate the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

But there will come a day when it will no longer be a pandemic, cases will no longer spiral out of control and hospitals will not be at great risk of overflowing with patients. Many experts predict that the spread of the coronavirus will resemble seasonal flu.

What is less clear is how and when that will happen.

“There’s not even a measurement to say something is an epidemic or pandemic. All of this is in the eye of the beholder — and that’s part of the problem,” Dr. Arnold Monto, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan and acting chair of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, told CNN.

“So all of this isn’t based on rules, it’s mostly based on what you need to do to get the outbreak under control,” Monto said. “What’s so different here is that our vaccines are much more effective than what we usually see.”

The good news, according to Monto, is the power of vaccines. The bad news comes with the virus’s power to change and evolve.

No one can predict what the future of Covid-19 might look like — and the rise of coronavirus variants, such as Delta, has shifted the trajectory, he said.

“With the change in transmission patterns, as the variants have emerged – I call it a parade of variants – we are now seeing a much more extensive transmission and a much more uniform global distribution. This makes it more difficult to announce the end of the pandemic .” said Monto. “Because the whole distribution pattern has changed, and there may still be pockets that really didn’t go through the kind of waves the rest of the world went through.”

‘Wait and hold our breath’

Monto and other public health leaders expect that in the future the world could monitor the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, in a way similar to how seasonal flu is controlled.

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“We have no idea if we’re going to see those kinds of seasonal patterns with SARS-CoV-2, but it does remind us that most of our respiratory viruses are starting to behave like seasonal events,” Monto said.

“There is precedent for a highly seasonal pattern for some of the coronaviruses that have infected humans,” he added. “We don’t know if SARS-CoV-2 will start to behave like this, but it gives us at least one scenario that it could start to behave that way.”

As Monto put it, we must “wait and hold our breath” to unravel what an endemic phase of the coronavirus might look like.

While the government talks about vaccine boosters, it's time to deal with the endemic reality of Covid
Endemic means that a disease is constantly present in a population – but it doesn’t affect an alarmingly large number of people as is typically seen in a pandemic. Even in early 2020, as the pandemic intensified, World Health Organization officials predicted that the novel coronavirus could “become another endemic virus in our communities” and will never go away.
“When you think about pandemics, you’re in the pandemic phase and then you have a delay phase, then you have a control phase, then hopefully you have elimination and maybe eradication,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at a hearing Thursday.
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“We hope to get it to such a low level that, while it’s not completely eliminated, it won’t have a major impact on public health or the way we live our lives,” Fauci said. “So, if we get more people vaccinated worldwide and more people now, hopefully in a reasonable amount of time we will get to the point where it can be up and down in the background every now and then, but it won’t dominate us the way it is now. doing.”

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last month reaffirmed its determination that a public health emergency still exists in the United States due to Covid-19, federal health officials are already pondering how the pandemic will end. measure and how to proceed to monitor the coronavirus once it becomes endemic.

‘A lot still needs to be done’

To move from pandemic to endemic, the nation needs to build immunity to the coronavirus — meaning many more people need to be vaccinated, Dr. Philip Landrigan, a pediatrician and epidemiologist at Boston College, told CNN.

With some Americans still refusing to get their Covid-19 shots and some refusing to wear masks, the transition may take longer.

Currently, approximately 58% of the total US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Covid-19 numbers keep getting better.  But where they go from here depends on vaccinations, Fauci . says
“We need to get somewhere far north of 80%, possibly far north of 90% of the population with immunity, either from infection or from vaccinations,” said Landrigan, who spent 15 years at the CDC.
For example, to control the spread of the measles virus in the US population, we had to get the immunity rate above 95%, and even then we’ve had sporadic outbreaks. These outbreaks usually happen when you have a cluster of people in a certain place who haven’t been vaccinated and all of a sudden the virus is introduced because a traveler has come in with the virus — and you have 20 cases of measles in a city,” Landrigan said. “But that’s not an epidemic. It’s an outbreak against a background of almost no cases or scattered endemic cases.”

For now, the CDC says there is a lot of work to do to control the current spread of the virus.

“We know that much remains to be done to stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic. We are still seeing far too many new cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The daily average of cases is over 70,000 per day With more Therefore, we encourage everyone 5 years and older to get vaccinated to protect them against COVID-19,” CDC spokesman Kristen Nordlund wrote in an email to CNN last week.

“As we look forward to the fall and winter, it’s important to continue to implement prevention measures that we know work – vaccinate, wear a mask in public areas, indoors, stay home when you’re sick and wash your hands often.”

Health officials are familiar with the work needed to improve vaccination coverage.

The CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot every year. But during the 2019-2020 flu season, only about half of those people — 51.8% — did, according to the CDC. The agency estimates that flu caused about 12,000 to 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020.
The coronavirus has killed more than 750,000 people in the United States so far.

The battle to contain the coronavirus every year may be very similar to the annual battle against the flu.

“We’ve thought a lot about what an endemic phase looks like and the data we need to collect during that phase. Especially now we’re collecting data on cases, hospitalizations, deaths,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday during the Senate committee hearing. “The question is, what will be our best metrics going forward? And probably modeling on flu.”

‘A more likely picture of our future’

The CDC works with health departments, labs, hospitals and health care providers to track diagnosed flu cases, determine which flu viruses are circulating, and measure the impact these viruses have on hospitalizations and deaths.

One idea is that when the coronavirus becomes endemic, a similar tracking system could be used to track the pathogen.

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“We could treat the cases just like we do with seasonal flu – where we can say we know we’ll see some cases in the winter season, and we can have the right staff, we can have the right supplies ready and we’re done.” to deal with it, unlike the spikes we’ve had here,” Dr. Stephen Parodi, national infectious disease leader for Kaiser Permanente, told CNN.

“I’m still on the phone about what our ICU bed capacity is? What are our supply chains that we need to provide care for patients? Do we have enough drugs? Do we have enough monoclonal antibodies?” said Parodi. “We still have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to be, and I think we’ll see this transition in the year 2022. But for some locations, where there’s less immunity, it’s going to take a longer run.”

Even the flu is unpredictable, and doctors have seen a lot of flu over the years.

“We know there will be cases,” Monto said. “With the flu, we’ve had experience with flu pandemics before, so we usually know how they behave. This is an evolving situation with a totally new pathogen.”