COVID-19 close to becoming an endemic disease?

With a greater number of cases day by day and people vaccinated, but with fewer hospitalizations, deaths, experts see a light at the end of the road regarding COVID-19 with the expectation that it will soon become an endemic disease and cease to be an emergency. world health. Although specialists have expressed this expectation, there are also some who assure that it is not yet time to think that Ómicron can lead to the end of the pandemic, for example in the case of Europe, where this approach is already being made.

The authorities reject that there is alarm over the arrival of Ómicron, although they ask not to lower their guard to prevent contagion.

The authorities reject that there is alarm over the arrival of Ómicron, although they ask not to lower their guard to prevent contagion.

‘There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could unfold and how the acute phase could end. But it is dangerous to assume that Omicron will be the last variant or that we are at the end of the game,’ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) this Monday, especially when insisting that the goal is to reach 70% of the population of each country vaccinated by mid-June. The statement was made after the regional director of the WHO for Europe, Hans Kluge, pointed out that “it is plausible” that Ómicron will lead to the end of the pandemic on the continent and that in countries such as the United Kingdom or Spain they consider that COVID-19 may enter an endemic phase.

What is an endemic? According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), endemic ‘refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population of a geographic area’. Some diseases you consider like this are chicken pox or malaria. “It is the constant presence or habitual prevalence of cases of a disease or infectious agent in human populations within a certain geographical area,” says the General Directorate of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health. Why is COVID-19 considered to be endemic? The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, recently declared that his country is working to move towards treating COVID-19 as a flu and not as an epidemic. “We have to evaluate the evolution of COVID towards an endemic disease,” he said. For his part, the Minister of Education of the United Kingdom, Nadhim Zahawi, who was in charge of the vaccination program in his country, indicated that they hope that they will be among the first economies to make the transition from a pandemic to an endemic one. “I hope that we will be one of the first big economies to show the world how to make a transition from a pandemic to an endemic one, and then deal with this for as long as it stays with us,” he said in an interview with the Sky News channel earlier. of year. Why do some people think that it is not yet time to consider it endemic? While the WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, acknowledged that “the virus is on the way to becoming endemic,” she warned that “we are still very much in the middle of this pandemic.” ‘We cannot end the pandemic and have the virus become ‘endemic’ in one country, while the rest of the world deals with the pandemic. That’s not how it works,’ he said at a press conference.

And it is that when in some countries very high vaccination percentages have already been achieved, even with booster dose applications and from minors, there are others that barely reach 15%, for example on the African continent. Although the Omicron variant – considered the most contagious until now – has shot up the total number of cases to almost 350 million, its impact has been less lethal, mainly due to vaccination; which does not mean that the pandemic has been overcome, according to Tedros. ‘The COVID-19 pandemic is entering its third year and we are at a critical juncture (…) in the world the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge,’ assured the WHO director. In this regard, the World Health Organization announced that it will publish a new COVID-19 response plan at the end of February that will propose a transition at the end of which the current management of the disease as a pandemic will end , announced this Monday the director of Health Emergencies of the agency, Mike Ryan. The ultimate goal will be to move to a phase where there is “sustained control” of the disease, similar to how it is done with other respiratory problems such as the flu, Ryan said at a technical conference on the pandemic during the Executive Committee of The OMS. “To end the international COVID emergency in 2022, there are still many things to do, such as reducing uncontrolled infection, especially in vulnerable populations, and reducing the risk of new variants emerging,” he said.

What is the expectation in Mexico? Mexico, like other countries such as the United Kingdom or Spain, is increasing its number of cases in a considered manner, but it is expected that, as happened in those nations, after reaching a peak, it will plateau and begin to decline. Dr. Alejandro Macías, who led the strategy during the AH1N1 influenza epidemic in 2009, pointed out that Mexico will be on the rise in January; in February the descent will begin; in March it will be on a plateau and in the “second quarter 2022 we would enter endemic.” For his part, the infectologist Francisco Moreno agreed that if what happened in South Africa with Ómicron is compared with what Mexico is experiencing, “we could assume that we have a week of high contagiousness left and then the number of cases will begin to drop.”

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