Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's point man on the COVID-19 pandemic, said Monday the omicron variant of COVID-19 might not be the end of the two-year pandemic, CNBC reported.
"It is an open question whether it will be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for," Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told international business and political leaders at the virtual "Davos Agenda" World Economic Forum on Monday. "I would hope that that's the case. But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant."
According to the report, Fauci said the natural immunity one gets after recovering from the disease, and vaccinations developed since the start of the pandemic, may mutate into yet another variant that is more resistant.
He also said it may be the case a form of the virus remains as an endemic sickness that is not as disruptive to society.
"Control means you have it present, but it is present at a level that does not disrupt society," Fauci said. "That's my definition of what endemicity would mean. It's not going to be that you'll eliminate this disease completely. But hopefully, it will be at such a low level that it doesn't disrupt our normal social, economic, and other interactions with each other. To me, that's what the new normal is."
Other health experts speaking with Fauci to the group were divided as to whether COVID-19 will become endemic, or if omicron would be the "final" strain.
"It is indeed too early really to call it endemic," Annelies Wilder-Smith, professor of emerging infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said. "There is a high probability that we will have a new variant."
Another scientist, however, was more optimistic the more contagious, but less severe, omicron variant will likely "sweep" out other variants around the world and turn it into something like the seasonal flu.
"Omicron will sweep the world; it may hopefully sweep out other variants," Richard Hatchett, chief executive officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations said in the report, adding "the virus will likely reach a point of equilibrium, where it becomes an annual epidemic, much like the seasonal flu."
"The Davos Agenda" is a conference of global leaders to who come together to "shape the principles, policies and partnerships" according to the World Economic Forum's website.
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