Weeks after Omicron began ravaging the United States, experts are now seeing statistical signs that suggest the wildly contagious variant might be losing steam.
More states have now reported they have passed their peaks in new cases, and new cases have begun to drop nationally — daily average cases fell to around 690,000 yesterday, down from about 807,000 10 days ago, CDC data shows. New coronavirus hospital admissions have also leveled off.
Where case counts have fallen, the drop has been precipitous, similar to what was seen in South Africa recently after Omicron careened through that country.
The latest trends have public health experts around the world daring to hope that Omicron will be the variant that turns a pandemic into an endemic disease.
Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said in a statement Monday that the pandemic was entering a “new phase” as “Omicron offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization.”
Top U.S. health officials are also cautiously optimistic.
“What we would hope is that, as we get into the next weeks to month or so, we’ll see throughout the entire country the level of infection get to below what I call that area of control,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC‘s “This Week.”
Still, infections will continue, Fauci noted. “They’re there, but they don’t disrupt society,” he said. “That’s the best-case scenario.”
And in a new commentary published in The Lancet medical journal, Dr. Christopher Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, estimated that 50 percent of the world would be infected by Omicron by the end of March, which will change the way countries manage the virus.
“After the Omicron wave, COVID-19 will return, but the pandemic will not,” he wrote. “The era of extraordinary measures by government and societies to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission will be over.”
The only threat to that hopeful scenario would be the emergence of new variants that could elude vaccines.
“It’s dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a meeting Monday, The New York Times reported. “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Omicron variant.
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