Epidemic Forecast: Where does the covid go from here?


GENEVA: Two years later, with the omicron-fueled covid crisis now raging, there is still hope that the epidemic could begin to subside in 2022 – although experts say vaccine inequalities must be addressed.
That seems like a distant reality, as countries impose fresh restrictions to address the rapidly spreading new types and growing cases and set Deja Vu’s frustrated feelings.
“We are facing another severe winter,” said the head of the World Health Organization. Tedros adhanam ghebreasus Said last week.
But health experts say we are better equipped now than a year ago to control the epidemic, with safer and more effective vaccines and new treatments available.
“We have the tools to bring the (epidemic) to its knees,” Maria Van Kerkhov, WHO’s top expert on the Cowid crisis, told reporters this month.
“We have the power to end it in 2022,” she insisted.
But, she added, they should be used properly.
One year after the first vaccine hit the market, about 8.5 billion doses have been issued globally.
And the world is on track to produce about 24 billion doses by June – more than enough for everyone on the planet.
But clearly unequal vaccine access means that many rich nations have already issued extra doses for those vaccinated, while in many poorer nations the vulnerable and health workers are still waiting for the first jab.
About 67 percent of people in high-income countries have received at least one dose of the vaccine, but not even 10 percent in low-income countries, according to UN figures.
That imbalance, which the WHO has described as a moral aggression, risks deepening as many countries rush to issue additional doses to respond. Omicron.
Preliminary data suggest that the heavily-mutated type, which has sparked lightning around the world since it was first discovered in South Africa last month, is more resistant to vaccines than previous strains.
While boosters seem to push back the level of protection, the WHO insists on ending the epidemic, making it a priority for sensitive people everywhere to get the first dose.
Experts warn that allowing covid to spread indefinitely in some places dramatically increases the likelihood of new, more dangerous species emerging.
So even though rich countries fire a third shot, the world is not safe unless everyone has some degree of immunity.
“No country can find a way out of the epidemic,” Tedros said last week.
“Blanket booster programs are likely to prolong the epidemic rather than end it.”
The emergence of Omicron is proof of that, WHO Emergency Chief Michael Ryan Told AFP.
“The virus has taken a chance to evolve.”
Gautam Menon, a professor of physics and biology at Ashoka University in India, agreed that it is in the best interests of rich nations to ensure that even the poorest nations are tweaked.
“It would be myopic to assume that they got rid of the problem just by vaccinating themselves.”
Ryan suggested that with increased vaccination we should reach a point where the covid “settles in a pattern that is less disruptive.”
But he warns that if the world fails to address the imbalance in vaccine reach, the worst could still come.
A nightmare scenario envisions a covid epidemic that spirals out of control amidst new types of persistent beavers, even though a different strain sparks a parallel epidemic.
Confusion and inaccurate information will erode trust in the authorities and science, as health systems collapse and political upheaval ensues.
According to Ryan, this is one of the many “sensible” scenarios.
“Double-epidemics are of particular concern, because we have a virus that now causes epidemics, and many others are in line.”
But better global vaccine coverage could mean that covidia – although not likely to disappear completely – will become a largely controlled endemic disease, with mild seasonal outbreaks, we will learn to live like the flu, experts say.
Andrew Noimer, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Irvine, told AFP that it would basically “become part of the furniture.”
But we are not there yet.
Experts caution against too much optimism around the early signs that Omicron causes less serious disease than previous strains, pointing out that it spreads so fast that it can still overwhelm health systems.
Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. infectious disease specialist, told NBC News last week, “When you have a lot, a lot of infections, even if they are less serious … (hospitals) are very stressed.”
Two years after the virus first appeared in China, the prospect is bleak.
Long lines of people wandering in crowded hospitals to find oxygen for loved ones and scenes of intimate patients have never stopped.
Images of a temporary funeral burning in Delta-Hit India reflect the human cost of the epidemic.
Officially, about 5.5 million people worldwide have died, although the actual toll is probably many times higher.
All the hesitation of the vaccine can increase that toll.
In the United States, the country most affected by more than 800,000 deaths, the endless stream of short deaths on the Facebookocovid Twitter account includes many who do not have a job.
“Amanda, a 36-year math teacher in Kentucky. Chris, a 34-year-old high school football coach in Kansas. Cherry, 40, a 7th grade reading teacher in Illinois. All affected their communities,” read the latest post.
“All deeply loved. All unvaccinated.”

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