When Will the COVID-19 Pandemic End?
Posted by EMILIA ROGERS
Here we are in the third calendar year of a pandemic that no one could have predicted prior to 2020. Although the world has slowly returned to some level of normalcy, there’s no denying that COVID-19 is still very much among us. It begs the question, then, will COVID-19 ever end and, if so, when will that be?
As of January 2022, COVID-19 is as virulent as ever. That being said, there have been a few recent twists that have scientists and analysts hopeful that the pandemic could soon be over. Until that date, though, it’s still up to us to work together, get vaccinated, and wear PPE to stay safe from the virus.
In this article, we’ll update you on the current state of COVID-19 around the world, share some hopeful news, and explain how you can stay safe until the virus has finally been defeated. Stay tuned and we’ll update you in the future as we learn more.
COVID-19 So Far
To put it mildly, 2021 wasn’t a very good year. After the debacle that was 2020, many people started the year hopeful that things would go back to normal but the Delta variant soon had other plans.
Starting in early spring, Delta quickly spread throughout the world, infecting patients with a stronger, deadlier strain of the virus. By summer, more than half a million people had died from Delta in India alone. Despite these shocking numbers, though, 2021 wasn’t all bad news.
If 2020 was the year of lockdowns, 2021 was the year that governments around the world quickly rolled out one of the largest mass vaccination campaigns in human history. Within just a few months, people around the world were able to proudly say they’d been jabbed with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Sputnik, and a handful of other brand-name vaccines.
Yet, Delta wasn’t to be the final evolution of COVID-19. Just as the world started to see some light on the horizon, the virus mutated again in late autumn 2021, producing the now-widespread Omicron variant. What’s worse is that even vaccinated people have started to come down with the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The Current State of COVID-19
So that brings us to today. As of January 2022, Omicron is rapidly spreading across Europe and the United States, with more than a million daily cases being registered in the US alone. While this may sound like the beginning of a potential Armageddon, it’s surprisingly less severe than anyone could have imagined.
Don’t get us wrong, the Omicron variant is still a deadly virus capable of spreading far faster than any variant we’ve seen before. But 2022 isn’t 2020. The world has grown smarter and stronger in the face of COVID-19 and fewer patients seem to be dying from the Omicron strain. Although hospitals are still facing capacity, they are able to quickly process and discharge COVID-19 patients.
This comes down to a few main points:➔ Vaccines – With a large percentage of the world already vaccinated, most patients already have some level of immunity to the virus. Although vaccinated people are still catching Omicron, their symptoms seem to be much less severe than if they were unvaccinated.
➔ PPE – For the last 2 years, we’ve all been wearing face masks (or we should have been!). Most Americans have gotten used to wearing them and are comfortable protecting their fellow neighbors.
➔ A more knowledgeable population – In 2 years, we’ve also become smarter about social distancing, washing our hands, and staying home if we feel sick.
Nonetheless, there are still millions of people catching Omicron every day and we must remain vigilant if we want the virus to go away. Failing to practice safety precautions now could spell doom for anyone hoping to do away with COVID.
When Will COVID-19 End?
If you clicked on this link expecting to hear that COVID-19 is about to disappear, you won’t be too happy. COVID-19 isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean things aren’t improving. In fact, many scientists and top officials are hopeful that 2022 will be the year that things change. Here’s why.
Remember when we said that Omicron is currently infecting around 1 million Americans a day? Although that might sound like the end of the world, it’s actually made a lot of educated doctors and scientists hope that the virus may soon pass out of the pandemic phase and into a manageable endemic state.
You see, as more people around the world come down with Omicron, the more people will have a natural immunity to it. Considering that more than half of the world is already vaccinated, doctors are hopeful that they’ll have enough immunity to only suffer mild symptoms. After fighting off Omicron, they will then have the natural antibodies needed to fight off further variants.
Think of it like the flu. Although COVID-19 is far deadlier, the flu is an endemic virus, meaning it naturally exists in the population. We are able to manage it though because most people are strong enough to fight off the virus. Scientists are hopeful that Omicron will make COVID-19 similarly endemic.
How You Can Protect Yourself
Until COVID-19 truly is a manageable endemic disease, you should continue to take precautions to protect yourself, your friends, and your family. Omicron is no joke and spreads far faster than all other variants. If you are not already doing so, follow these guidelines:
The science couldn’t be any clearer—vaccines save lives. If you aren't already vaccinated, we recommend doing so to protect yourself against the worst of Omicron. Currently, 209.5 million Americans have been fully vaccinated while another 81.7 million have received the third booster. Some countries, such as Cambodia and Israel, are already administering the fourth booster. Don’t miss the curve when you could protect yourself.
Wear a Face Mask
At this point, it should go without saying that you should wear a face mask anytime you go out in public. As far back as spring 2020, the CDC and World Health Organization have been recommending face masks as the go-to piece of personal protection equipment (PPE). Yet not all masks are created equal.
If you are unsure which masks you should wear, we’ve put together a quick rundown of the most common types. Check them out here:
➔ Face Shields – Face shields are made of a large sheet of plastic that hangs over your face. They allow other people to see your face and theoretically block saliva from splashing onto you. They are not very effective, though, because they leave large gaps between your face and the surrounding environment. We don’t recommend using them without an added mask.
➔ Cloth Masks – Cloth masks are stylish and provide some protection, but they are not very effective either. Cloth masks are often ill-fitting and become easily contaminated if splashed with saliva.
➔ Disposable Surgical Masks – These are the standard blue and white masks you’ve probably seen everywhere you’ve gone in the last two years. Their pleated design effectively blocks your saliva from escaping and landing on someone else. They do not block viruses, though, and should be immediately disposed of if contaminated.
➔ N95 Masks – These masks were originally developed to keep construction workers safe while working in dusty environments. They are tested and regulated to block 95% of microparticles and are powerful enough to block viruses from entering your airways. They are the most effective type of mask and should be worn by anyone afraid of catching COVID-19.
➔ KN95 and KF95 Masks – You may have seen these masks floating around online and in stores. They are built according to Chinese and Korean standards, respectively, and mimic N95 masks. However, they are not as stringently regulated as American N95 masks and should be avoided at all costs.
If you are purchasing N95 masks, always verify that the manufacturer has sent off their product to be tested and verified by a certified laboratory.
Last but not least, if you suspect that you’ve been infected, don’t hesitate to get tested. There are several ways you can get tested to protect both yourself and your surrounding friends and family:
➔ PCR Tests – If you’ve ever had a nasal and throat swab, you’ve had a PCR test. This test takes several days to complete but is more accurate than other options.
➔ Rapid Tests – Rapid tests are around 95% accurate and can be easily completed at home. Pick up an at-home rapid test kit here and know your status today.
If your rapid test comes back positive, immediately contact your doctor to request a full PCR test. If the PCR test also comes back positive, isolate yourself and take care to follow all necessary safety precautions. If you have to go to the hospital, wear an N95 mask and avoid touching anything.
Practice Social Distancing
It’s likely already second nature but remember to social distance when you are out in public. Maintaining a healthy 6-foot distance between you and the next person will help prevent their germs from spreading to you and keep your germs from spreading to them. If you sense that someone is standing too close, politely ask for more space.
Social distancing alone isn’t enough to keep you 100% protected, though. You should remember to wear a mask, even if you are practicing social distancing. Additionally, spray your hands with alcohol or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer after touching foreign surfaces.
If you already feel sick, stay at home and avoid interacting with other people. Contact your family if you need supplies and have them leave food or water outside your door. You should immediately get tested if you show signs of COVID, including:
➔ An intense fever
➔ A persistent dry cough
➔ Loss of taste and smell
➔ A sharp sore throat
➔ Difficulty breathing
Getting tested immediately will help prevent the spread of the virus and ensure that you can get the treatment you need. Even if you have already been vaccinated, it’s always best to play it safe and get tested.
The bad news is that COVID-19 may be here for good. The good news, though, is that it seems to be changing from a pandemic virus to endemic disease. As more people get vaccinated or catch Omicron, the world will reach herd immunity. Until then, stay safe by getting vaccinated, social distancing, wearing an N95 mask, and getting tested if you suspect you’ve been exposed.