Will the 2023 pandemic become endemic?

Will the 2023 pandemic become endemic?

New fears of a Covid wave linger around the world, including in India, as Covid infections surge again in several countries, notably China, which saw over 250 million cases in just 20 days in December.

While the BF.7 variant of the omicron virus is a cause for concern in China and India, the omicron subvariant XBB accounts for 18.3 percent of the covid, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -19 cases in the United States (CDC).

This represents an 11.2 percent increase as the XBB variant continues to fuel cases in Singapore.

Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 accounted for about 70 percent of new cases in the United States.

The total number of confirmed Covid cases in the US has surpassed 100 million since the pandemic broke out nearly three years ago, with deaths totaling more than 1 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Japan is facing an ongoing eighth wave of the pandemic and the country has registered 206,943 new cases.

South Korea’s new Covid cases remained below 70,000 for the second straight day on Saturday, while new coronavirus-related deaths hit a three-month high.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said he hopes that sometime next year Covid-19 will no longer be a global health emergency.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO Covid-19 Emergency Committee will discuss the criteria for declaring the end of the Covid-19 emergency next month.

“We hope that sometime next year we can say that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency,” he said, adding that however the SARS-CoV-2 virus is the culprit behind the Covid-19 pandemic, won’t go away.

Kirti Sabnis, an infectious disease specialist at Fortis Hospital in Kalyan, Mumbai, told IANS when a pandemic becomes endemic, it means the disease is present in a particular community or globally and the population has enough immunity to fight outbreaks check.

“In addition, the infections may continue to affect vulnerable members of the community. While an endemic may not see major outbreaks, it also means it won’t be eradicated entirely,” she said.

Health experts said it is more difficult to predict whether Covid-19 will become endemic in 2023 because it is a respiratory virus prone to mutating similar to other influenza viruses.

“If multiple mutations change the protein structure of the virus or its ability to attach to cells, new strains could emerge. However, if current protections of immunity to the virus are sufficient to prevent serious illness or reduce transmission, then definitely Covid can become endemic,” Sabnis said.

It is uncertain when or if Covid-19 will become endemic, but it is unlikely that we will be able to eliminate it completely.

Experts said we might occasionally see outbreaks, especially during flu season or when new mutations emerge, as is happening in China right now.

“The transmission of the virus in India and the level of immunity acquired through previous vaccination and community transmission will also affect its potential to become endemic. However, it seems unlikely that there will be any significant new outbreaks or that the virus will become endemic in India in the next 2-3 months,” Sabnis said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *