There is light at the end of the tunnel as Danish epidemiologists say that the emergence of Omicron could bring about the end of the pandemic and that “we will have our normal lives back in two months.”
At the start of the year, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus expressed confidence that the pandemic could end this year, but only through global cooperation and an embrace of social justice, the Times of Israel reported.
“The end of the year marks the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, representing a poignant reminder of what we have achieved, have gained and have lost as a global community,” Tedros said. “No country is out of the woods from the pandemic but we have many new tools to prevent and treat COVID-19.”
While highlighting global accomplishments in the fight against the disease, including the administration of over 8.5 billion vaccine doses worldwide and developing therapeutic treatments to decrease the severity of infections and overall mortality, the WHO director cast dire warnings about the Omicron variant.
Tedros argues that “inequity” has “created the ideal conditions for the emergence of the Omicron variant.”
“The longer inequity continues, the higher the risks of the virus evolving in ways we can’t prevent or predict,” Tedros said, “If we end inequity, we end the pandemic, and end the global nightmare we have all lived through. And this is possible.”
“As we enter the third year of this pandemic, I’m confident that this will be the year we end it, but only if we do it together,” he said.
Elsewhere in the speech, Tedros slammed nations for conducting “blanket booster” programs while developing nations, especially those in Africa, remain largely unvaccinated. Tedros also warned that “narrow nationalism” was contributing to the surge in Omicron.
A day before his remarks, Tedros warned that the Omicron variant could “overwhelm” healthcare systems worldwide – despite studies reinforcing the understanding that the new variant is milder compared to Delta and other variants.
Six new studies cited by The Guardian suggest that the variant causes less serious disease and is far less likely to damage lungs, which has been a leading cause of hospitalizations relating to COVID-19.
Tyra Grove Krause, the chief epidemiologist at Denmark’s State Serum Institute, asserted that the Omicron variant will instead bring about the end of the pandemic – a far cry from the grim warnings offered by the WHO chief.
Speaking to Danish TV 2, Krause said a new study conducted by the organization found that the risk of hospitalization from Omicron is half of the Delta variant and offered hopes to the Danish government that the pandemic could be over in two months.
“Omicron is here to stay, and it will provide some massive spread of infection in the coming month. When it’s over, we’re in a better place than we were before,” she added, noting that Omicron’s transmissibility and milder symptoms mean that more people will be infected without experiencing serious complications.
As a result, infection by Omicron will ultimately result in a good level of immunity to COVID-19 in the population.
Krause stressed that healthcare systems, such as those in Denmark, will have to make an effort to deal with the increased caseload as infections peak at the end of January. She says that the country can expect to see decreasing pressure on the healthcare system next month.
“But we have to make an effort in January because it will be hard to get through,” she said.
Krause’s remarks were echoed by a chief physician at Aarhus University Hospital and professor Lars Østergaard, who said that Omicron would bring about the end of the pandemic.
“The pandemic may end,” he warned. “But that doesn’t mean that corona will disappear from our everyday lives. I think we will never be able to wave goodbye to the coronavirus. What we want is to have such good immunity in the population that we can deal with it like the other diseases we know,” Østergaard said.