‘It’s going to happen again’ – Top health experts caution post-omicron life will see more variants without action

While the omicron wave of COVID-19 begins to subside in many areas, some experts warn that this is not the end of the pandemic.
Published: Jan. 26, 2022 at 11:01 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The surge of the omicron COVID-19 variant is plateauing or subsiding in many parts of the country and some health officials are optimistic this wave will soon be behind us. But for some of these top experts, that does not indicate the end of the pandemic.

“Throughout this pandemic, Mother Nature has not been coy with us. She tells us exactly what she’s going to do, we just choose to ignore it,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a Baylor University College of Medicine vaccine scientist.

Hotez said the pandemic will not just go away after the omicron variant wanes. He expects the troubling pattern of new variants and spikes to continue in 2022.

“Because we’re failing to vaccinate the southern hemisphere in low and middle-income countries, that’s where it’s going to happen again,” said Hotez.

Hotez is on the front lines of the COVID-19 war, helping to develop a vaccine called Corbevax that he said can easily be distributed globally to countries where variants are likely to form. He said omicron infections build some immunity, but in general, he said unvaccinated populations remain vulnerable with new variants expected.

Hotez is hoping for swift approval of his vaccine from the World Health Organization and broader distribution of other vaccines to minimize the opportunity for the virus to mutate, potentially into a deadlier form. The WHO said they are in preliminary discussions with Corbevax.

“We know how to stop this. It requires resolve and it requires global leadership,” said Hotez.

Hotez said that includes better leadership from the Biden Administration. After omicron exposed a testing shortage in the U.S. and brought record positive case numbers, he hopes this administration is better prepared for future variants. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease told the Washington News Bureau’s Peter Zampa that they will be.

“There will certainly be major, major improvements if and when, and it’s likely to be when, we get another variant, and hopefully it will not have a negative impact on us the way omicron has,” said Dr. Fauci.

Fauci is hoping to get to a point of controlling the virus, acknowledging complete eradication is unlikely. Fauci and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy both stress the best preparation for whatever comes next is vaccines, booster shots, and more widely available therapeutics.

“You don’t rest until the job is done. You don’t stop learning, you don’t stop trying to get better, and that’s what this administration is going to continue to do,” said Dr. Murthy.

Over 63 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. In contrast, only 9.5 percent of people in low-income countries have received one vaccine dose.

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