OSU Experts Explain What it Will Take to Turn Pandemic Endemic

An Oregon expert says, the Omicron variant may help turn the COVID-19 virus, into eventually becoming more like the flu or cold in our lives.   That’s because of a combination of these two qualities.  People seem to be able to catch it easier than other variants.   But it doesn’t make them as sick.

“Omicron while it’s highly contagious, highly infectious, but less capable of causing serious symptoms or harm.”

Oregon State University Professor Chunhuei Chi says those qualities could make Omicron the variant that pushes the virus from pandemic, to endemic: “Omicron might be the virus that helps us end this pandemic.  To turn it into an endemic, or the so-called flu-like.  Myself,  I’m waiting for maybe another month of epidemiology data.”

He is hopeful that more effective vaccines and highly effective treatments, might push the pandemic stage to an end by spring in some countries.

So how will we know when the COVID-19 virus becomes like the flu or cold: less dangerous and more, just a part of our everyday lives?  O.S.U. Professor Courtney Campbell is a medical ethics specialist.  He explains: “One of the definitions, sort of the layman’s definition of moving from a pandemic to an endemic, is it doesn’t have the kind of global spread of a variant from one country to the other, that we saw with both Delta and Omicron,” he says.

He’s an expert in health care resource distribution and says, the world is far from that point right now.  “We’re only going to be able to get this under control worldwide when there’s sufficient vaccines available for the lower income countries throughout the world.  And that just still, simply hasn’t happened.”

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