PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) – As COVID-19 cases decline after the omicron rise and Pennsylvania health officials move toward a “new phase”Of the pandemic, it feels as if the coronavirus is close to switching from“ pandemic ”to“ endemic ”.
Experts say there are certain signs that may indicate when the change may be near.
Endemic diseases occurs regularly in a population and follows established patterns. A common example of an endemic disease is influenza.
“I think we are in the transition from being a pandemic to endemic. I do not think we are there yet. What I expect is that most of the population will get at least some form of immunity, and by summer this is likely to be a very different disease, ”said Dr. John Goldman, a specialist in infectious diseases at UPMC.
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So which signs will indicate the shift to endemic?
Goldman said next winter that if COVID-19 hospitalizations resemble a typical flu season rather than a previous COVID-19 peak, the disease could move into an endemic state.
With positivity rates and declining cases, Penn Medicine Lancaster said General Health Chief of Infectious Diseases Dr. Joseph Kontra: “I think the trends we see are definitely pointing in the (endemic) direction.”
COVID-19 has so far been quite unpredictable, a feature of a pandemic disease rather than an endemic one. New variants like delta and omicron caused unexpected increases in cases of coronavirus, hospitalizations and deaths. Contra said, however, that this may change.
“There is currently nothing to suggest that a new variant has emerged yet, so if that continues to be the case, then I think we will be in pretty good shape this summer,” Contra said from 9 . March.
Some places can reach the endemic phase faster than others, Goldman said.
“I would look at the United States to see if it’s national endemic or pandemic. I would also look locally because there will be states that, for example, have fewer vaccinations that will go into the endemic phase more slowly than states like Pennsylvania. , which have higher vaccination rates, ”Goldman explained.
Goldman said the shift to endemicism may come depending on what happens next winter. Contra and Dr. Raghav Tirupathi, medical director of infection prevention at WellSpan Chambersburg and WellSpan Waynesboro Hospitals, said it could come even earlier if the COVID-19 situation remains consistent over the summer.
“There is a possibility that COVID-19 infection may become endemic with stable infection rates in the summer,” Tirupathi said in an email, “but it again comes with some mortality from this infection.”
Tirupathi noted that just because a disease is endemic does not mean it is not also fatal, explaining “malaria is endemic in several parts of the world but has killed around 600,000 people by 2020 and tuberculosis is endemic in several parts of the world and has killed about 1.5 million people by 2020. “
Even a typical flu season causes tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, Goldman noted.
“The term ‘endemic’ has been used in a lax way. Endemic condition does not mean stable condition as it can still cause periodic increases and disruptions in daily life. The last thing we want is for the public to be vigilant against this ugly disease. Masking in high-risk situations, vaccination, early testing and treatment should continue to be the cornerstones of prevention, ”Tirupathi said via email.
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As to who officially designates COVID-19 as the endemic, Associated Press reported in January that most affluent countries are likely to make that decision themselves based on their individual situations, but they can see to it that the WHO shifts COVID-19 away from its highest level of global health distress.