Will COVID become endemic? What will that look like?

National and World
COVID-19 Vaccine

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) -The term endemic is starting to crop up in reports about COVID-19 and its variants.

Endemic means that the pandemic will not end with the virus going away altogether. Instead, vaccination, herd immunity and immunity from natural infection will make COVID-19 less transmissible, leading to reduced hospitalizations and death.

Past viruses have become endemic, with seasonal upticks. This was the case with the 1918 flu and the swine flu, among others.

According to an article from the Harvard T.H. Scan School of Public Health, the shift from pandemic to endemic is hard to pinpoint. Viruses spread where there are enough susceptible people and enough contact among them to sustain spread. A shift to endemic status depends on the strength and duration of immune protection from vaccination and natural infection, patterns of contact and transmissibility, the report stated.

Some big factors that come into play are how we are responding to COVID-19 globally. Some places are engaging in zero COVID policies while others have limited response and variable vaccine availability, according to the article.

An advisory panel with the Centers for Disease Control is voting Friday on whether a COVID booster shot will be recommended for at-risk groups.

On Thursday, the FDA granted emergency approval for a third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for vulnerable people.

“The country has entered yet another wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the FDA is especially cognizant that immunocompromised people are particularly at risk for severe disease. After a thorough review of the available data, the FDA determined that this small, vulnerable group may benefit from a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Vaccines,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, there are 12 lessons learned from the management of the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Transprency is vital
  • Successful responses hinge on decisive leadership
  • We need unified response to pandemics rather than diverse disconnected strategies
  • Effective communication must occur at the highest political levels
  • The European Union, and other regional blocs, must assume a greater health role
  • Global solidarity is the only way to win the war against COVID-19
  • The WHO has done a lot given the resources it has, but there is much room for improvement. It must now focus on its activities, expand its remit and enhance its operational capacity
  • Existing global insurance institutions and policies are inadequate, and these require significant changes and improvements
  • Efforts to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are commendable, but there is still much more to do
  • We need to test the responsiveness and resilience of health systems and make changes and improvements based on the results
  • Accountability is critical for building trust and for sound, inclusive decision making
  • There are opportunities to introduce novel approaches, such as using robots and artificial intelligence (AI), in this – and in future – pandemic response

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