The pandemic could soon be over after the highly infectious Omicron completes its cycle, with scientists forecasting the COVID-19 variant has reached its peak.
Dr Leondios Kostrikis, head of the University of Cyprus’ Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology, told Active Radio we are nearing the end of the fifth wave of infections, powered by Omicron.
With daily cases dropping from a record high of 5,457 on 4 January to around 3,000, Kostrikis noted that the virus’ reproduction rate is close to one and dropping.
The virologist argued the government needs to start de-dramatising the situation once cases start falling and pressure on hospitals wanes.
He noted that the virus, although more transmissible, has proven to cause milder disease.
“It will be a good opportunity for everyone from the state, the health authorities, to scientists to sit down and revaluate the situation, deciding whether to call off the pandemic alarm and declare the coronavirus endemic.
“That is a big decision and cannot be taken lightly,” said Kostrikis.
His assessment is supported by other scientists who also see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, told Greece’s daily Kathimerini the end of the pandemic is nearer than one might think, pinpointing it sometime in March.
Murray said the evidence supports that COVID-19 will become endemic with the end of the Omicron wave of infections.
“COVID will not be going away but will be with us just like the seasonal flu.
“This will mean that people belonging to vulnerable groups will need to take a COVID vaccine to stop them from getting ill.
“However, in the sense of the need for a collective societal reaction, the pandemic will be over when Omicron subsides,” argued Murray.
He said that people should stop being terrified by a large number of cases – “which will be scary at their peak” – and start looking at the number of hospitalisations that are growing much slower to the rise in cases.
Murray said that, based on the experience of countries hit earlier by Omicron, the wave of infections powered by the variant subsides after four to six weeks from first being introduced to the community.