Why Some Health Experts Think There Might Be A Light At The End Of The Pandemic Tunnel

The last few years have been a rollercoaster for people across the globe. From the frustration of mask mandates being lifted only to be reinstated, to the hope many felt with the rollout of the vaccine only to then be discouraged yet again by the spread of variants, the COVID-19 pandemic has been both physically and mentally taxing with little indication as to when the end will be in sight. Now, health experts have some good news to share.

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in some states, health officials are seeing progressive decreases in others. For example, as of January 20, Johns Hopkins data reflected at least a 10% drop in cases within the last week across 14 states (via CNN). As experts turn to countries such as South Africa and the United Kingdom as examples of how the Omicron wave has risen and fallen, health officials have reason to believe we will see the same drop-off take place in the United States. But just how soon can we expect that drop-off? Some experts now offer a potential timeline.

Dr. John Swartzberg of Berkeley's School of Public Health explains via CNN when we can expect to see the start of the drop-off, stating, "I anticipate in the short run — being the next six weeks, four to six weeks — that it's still going to be pretty rough. It will be about the middle of February before we start to really see that things are getting better."

Experts are hopeful that the pandemic will lessen by spring and summer

By the spring or summer months, Dr. Swartzberg believes things will be significantly looking up and people will be able to resume more of their lives, stating, "I think May or June is going to really look up for us. I'm quite optimistic" (via CNN). However, experts acknowledge that the nature of the virus has been unpredictable, and while there is reason to be hopeful, the possibility for new variants is not out of the question and that the state of the pandemic will continue to be dependent upon factors such as vaccine efficacy and people's willingness to keep up with preventative measures.

Even so, health officials are confident that the pandemic will continue to lessen in severity throughout 2022 and that eventually, COVID-19 will look much like the seasonal flu. Some experts feel so strongly as to say that we will no longer be in the midst of a pandemic once Omicron is behind us. In a piece published in the medical journal The Lancet earlier this month, author Christopher J L Murray states that the natural immunity of people previously infected with the Omicron variant, the advancement of variant-specific COVID-19 vaccines, antiviral medications, and physical distancing and masking measures, will all collectively be enough to bring the pandemic to an end sooner rather than later. Murray writes in his piece that "After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return but the pandemic will not."