The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported two years ago on January 21. During that period, the country has worked hard to keep the virus under control as much as possible by testing, masking, social distancing, vaccines, and other preventative measures. Despite this, COVID-19 has killed almost 850,000 people in the United States.
Will everyone’s «new normal» in the future be living in a pandemic? Or will COVID-19 be eradicated in the long run? While Mayo Clinic infectious disease experts claim to lack a crystal ball, they do predict that things will alter in the future.
«We’re still in the midst of one of the pandemic’s waves—hopefully, one of the last—if not the last—major surges. So we’re not quite there yet with this new normal, but we’re getting there «Dr. John O’Horo, an infectious disease specialist at Mayo Clinic, agrees.
«As we go into this new normal, what it really means is that this becomes an endemic virus, like the flu, that just circulates around—worse at various times of the year in specific places—and necessitates some of the same precautions as the flu, such as regular revaccination.»
While many of the preventive measures, such as masking, may be relaxed by health officials in this new normal, Dr. O’Horo believes they will be resumed if COVID-19 instances increase in the future.
«Depending on local prevalence, strains present, and the vulnerability of those there, we may see some of the limitations that have been in place for the previous two years—like wearing masks in particular settings—return during moments of high transmission.
In the future, healthcare facilities will have a lower threshold for advising or even requiring masks during a surge. But, hopefully, these spikes will be less and less frequent than the ones we’ve seen in the last two years when it was truly a pandemic.»
He claims that getting as many individuals as possible vaccinated for COVID-19 and having their booster vaccinations is a key step in achieving that new normal.
«Vaccines, I’m confident, will play a significant role in the new normal. Even if the cadence and type haven’t been established, we know that regular immunization will be required. But it’ll probably look a lot like the flu, with changing strains and the need for regular boosters to keep the illness from resurfacing «Dr. O’Horo agrees.
«Vaccines are still one of the most effective instruments we have. It’s barely been two years since we moved from having no treatments or awareness of the disease to having highly effective immunizations that significantly minimize hospitalizations, death, and severe sickness. They also appear to contribute to the disease’s spread being slowed.
Vaccinations are the quickest way to return to the new normal. This virus is beginning to diminish into a more seasonal virus, but it will continue to be significant for some vulnerable populations. However, with the proper precautions in place, we can live with it without it being a major part of our life.»