Dr. Fauci: Omicron Could End Covid-19’s Pandemic Phase

Chief Medical Advisor to the US President, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the faster-spreading Omicron variant could help propel Covid-19 out of the pandemic phase.

Speaking at the Davos Agenda, a virtual event held by the World Economic Forum on Monday, Dr. Fauci said it was still too early to tell whether the new strain’s rapid spread would take the coronavirus from a pandemic to an endemic phase. But “I would hope that that’s the case,” he added.

The Omicron variant is highly transmissible, but scientists believe it’s less likely to cause disease as severe as other variants. Therefore, it could define a transition from the pandemic chapter that has plagued the world since 2022 to a more manageable endemic phase.

However, Dr. Fauci clarified that it “would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant.”

“We were fortunate” that the Omicron strain did not have similar characteristics to the Delta variant, he said.

“It is an open question as to whether or not Omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” he went on.

However, experts insist that the battle against Covid-19 is not over yet and have urged people not to try to catch the Omicron variant intentionally. The sheer volume of people who get infected with Omicron overrides its pathogenicity less level, Dr. Fauci stated.

The surge in cases has forced schools to return to remote learning and has overwhelmed hospitals, delaying elective surgeries as health care systems face critical staffing shortages. According to data from the US Health and Human Services Department, at least 156,676 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized on Monday.

Also, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that around 1,695 US citizens died from Covid-19 every day over the last week.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical companies have started developing new vaccines to get even further ahead of novel variants.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Monday the company should have data available on its Omicron-specific Covid-19 vaccine in March. Moreover, early data from a study conducted in Israel suggested that a fourth Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine dose might increase antibodies more than has been seen after a third dose to reduce hospitalization risk.