Bill Gates says after current wave of Omicron, Covid will look more like flu

The current wave of infections with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will be a challenge for health systems. But once that’s over, cases are expected to drop and life could return to some semblance of normalcy, at least for the remainder of 2022.

This prediction came from Bill gates during Questions and answers on Twitter this week with Devi Sridhar, Professor of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh School of Medicine. Sridhar asked Gates the question that worries everyone: “How and when will the pandemic be over?” “

“As countries experience their Omicron wave, health systems will be put to the test,” he replied. “Most severe cases will be unvaccinated people. Once Omicron passes through a country, the rest of the year should see far fewer cases, so Covid can be treated more like a seasonal flu.” In other words, Covid could move from its current pandemic state to an endemic state in which the disease is still present and remains dangerous, especially for the most vulnerable, but enough people have enough immunity to no longer disrupt our everyday life. Several past pandemics have made this transition to endemic status, including the 1918 flu and the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

It should be noted that in the United States, we are still very much in the grip of the Omicron wave. The day before Gates’ Q&A, the United States struck a new record of 1.35 million new cases in a single day. Infections are four times higher than they were at the peak of last winter, with hospitalizations also at an all time high.

Once the current wave ends, however, we may have some breathing space from Covid for the rest of the year. “A more transmissive variant is not likely, but we were very surprised during this pandemic,” Gates tweeted. “Omicron will create a lot of immunity for the next year at least.” But, he added, “We may need to take annual photos for Covid for a while.”

Subject to misinformation.

Sridhar also asked Gates about the challenges of battling the pandemic when disinformation spread so quickly on social media. “Social media has fallen behind in trying to get factual information – there will be a lot of debate about how to do better on this,” Gates said. “People like you and me and Tony Fauci have been the subject of a lot of misinformation. I didn’t expect it. Some of them, like me putting chips in my arms, don’t make sense to me – why would I want to do this? ”(“ I would make a joke but cause a storm, ”Sirdhar replied with a laughing emoji.)

Sridhar also touched on what might be the most important question of how prepared are we for the next pandemic? This time around, Gates said, only a few countries have acted quickly to implement social distancing measures and isolate those infected. Those who did so were able “to considerably limit the number of deaths,” he added. “Once the numbers get big in a country, it’s too late.”

To deal more effectively with the next pandemic, world leaders will need to prepare in advance, Gates noted. And there are signs that can happen. For example, Gates noted, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has already started an important conversation about how to prepare for the next pandemic. He also praised Sridhar, saying he appreciated his work in this area. “We can do a lot better next time !!” he tweeted. Hope he is right.

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