Samuel Case, FISM News
A top official for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) believes that the omicron variant may be a sign of COVID-19 downgrading from a pandemic to an endemic.
“With the increase of immunity in population – and with Omicron, there will be a lot of natural immunity taking place on top of vaccination – we will be fast moving towards a scenario that will be closer to endemicity,” Marco Cavaleri, EMA head of vaccine strategy, said during a press briefing on Tuesday.
According to medical experts speaking to the Harvard School of Public Health an endemic “means that the pandemic will not end with the virus disappearing. Instead, the optimistic view is that enough people will gain immune protection from vaccination and from natural infection such that there will be less transmission and much less COVID-19-related hospitalization and death, even as the virus continues to circulate.”
Cavaleri is not the first to suggest that Omicron might signal the end of the pandemic. In mid-December, Dr. Adam Koppel, the managing director of Bain Capital Life Sciences, described the highly contagious, but relatively mild omicron variant as “the ideal situation for a virus.”
“If this spreads out and becomes the dominant strain, it may– it may– enable us to more quickly get to an endemic state as opposed to a pandemic state where we can live more regularly with the virus more similar to the flu than what COVID has looked like,” Koppel told a Massachusetts High Technology Council.
Studies continue to confirm the new variant is far less deadly than previous iterations of the virus. A new study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California, in collaboration with the CDC, found the omicron variant to be 91% less deadly than Delta.
The data also suggests that Omicron is associated with a 74% reduction in ICU admittance and 53% less hospitalization. Admitted omicron patients also spent significantly less time in the hospital with a median stay of 1.5 days, as opposed to five days with Delta. No omicron cases required a ventilator.