2022 - Boosters Forever And A COVID-19 Endemic World
As our industry ramps up for another variant, Omicron, we thought it might be of benefit to look at what the normal course of a pandemic is.
Globally, with 275 million known cases and 5.35 million deaths, COVID-19 is not slowing down.
The virus continues to exceed all expectations on longevity, lethality, and overall destruction. Projections from a year ago seem almost quaint in comparison to today’s reality.1
What might the future hold for the pandemic? We have a summary below, but here are some greater details on who we used for prognostication.
We encourage you to do your own research. There are great resources available regarding past pandemics and how COVID-19 may evolve. Here’s three sources we trust.
Sunetra Gupta is an acknowledged infectious disease expert. She is Princeton University-educated, with a Ph.D. from the University of London, an accomplished infectious disease epidemiologist, and a professor of theoretical epidemiology at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford.2. Pandemics: Our Fears & The Facts, written by Sunetra Gupta in 2013, is a well researched resource on the course of a pandemic.
Dr. Gupta has performed research on the transmission dynamics of various infectious diseases, including malaria, influenza and COVID-19 and has received the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London and the Rosalind Franklin Award of the Royal Society.2
Another quality source is McKinsey & Company, specifically their healthcare industry research. Again, initial reports and prognostications, even as recent as August 2021, are very optimistic when compared to today’s reality. However, the regular updates and outlooks for coming calendar quarters are solid and helpful.3,4,5
Finally, economist groups, like CESifo.org have produced detailed information on pandemic lifecycles based on their economic impacts for various regions throughout history.6
The short summary of the research gathered from the above is as follows:
- “Zero COVID” is never going to happen. A highly infectious, airborne virus, with early contagiousness and delayed symptom onset, and one with a high capacity to create variants, cannot be eradicated in our open, interconnected world. COVID-19 is here to stay.
- Pandemics like this typically last two to three years, as a primary health issue and then continue to have regional, often deadly, outbreaks for 15-20 years. You read that right. Dangerous outbreaks in regional hot spots will occur for 15-20 years.
- Continued vaccine improvements are an important tool to reduce the lethality of the disease, but can create their own problems. If the disease is not eradicated completely, vaccinated individuals are still exposed to future variants which may not be recognized by vaccine antibodies.
- Continued treatment will be important to control the disease, with vaccine breakthroughs continuing despite multiple adjustments to the vaccine.
- The natural development of the virus is to become more contagious and less hostile, but it’s not guaranteed this will happen.
- Boosters once or twice a year are likely to continue, as new variants continue to emerge, similar to influenza.
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