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Fauci: 'Open Question' Whether Omicron Ends Pandemic

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

It’s much too early to say if the Omicron variant signals the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony Fauci, MD, said Monday during a virtual panel held by the Davos Agenda.

Fauci was asked if the world was moving from COVID pandemic to endemic because of widespread immunity caused by widespread infection. 

“It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” said Fauci, the chief medical advisor to the White House.

Fauci said his definition of “endemicity” is when a virus is not eliminated but is “non-disruptive” to society.

Fauci said he hopes Omicron, which is highly transmissible but doesn’t cause severe illness like Delta, leads to such an endemic. But that would only be the case “if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant,” he added. 

Only one infectious disease, smallpox, has been eliminated worldwide, he said, predicting that’s not going to happen with the coronavirus.

The Davos Agenda is a series of podcasts presented by the World Economic Forum.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, says the Omicron surge is a long way from peaking in the nation.

“There are parts of the country — New York, in particular, and other parts of the Northeast — where we are starting to see a plateau, and in some cases, an early decline in cases,” he said Sunday on CNN.

“The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace. The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country, so we shouldn’t expect a national peak in the next coming days. The next few weeks will be tough.”

COVID statistics are still climbing because of Omicron.

Johns Hopkins University says an average of more than 750,000 daily new infections were reported over the past two weeks, CNN reported. COVID-related deaths also are rising, with 1,796 Covid-19 deaths reported Sunday.

Sources

World Economic Forum. “Does Omicron mean the end for COVID-19? Anthony Fauci and other experts on Radio Davos”

CNN. “The Omicron surge hasn’t peaked nationwide, and ‘the next few weeks will be tough,’ US surgeon general says”

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