Pfizer Vaccines president Nanette Cocero told investors that the company believes COVID-19 could become endemic by 2024, meaning it can be curbed by vaccinations much like the common flu. In other words, it would shift from a global medical emergency to a series of regional outbreaks.
Populations need to have enough immunity from widespread vaccination or prior infections to minimize the rate of transmissions and fatalities. Depending on the deployment of vaccination, new variants may continue to emerge. Due to the inequitable distribution of vaccines, some countries are likely to reach the endemic stage while others remain in pandemic mode.
Pfizer predicts that future government policies will involve annual revaccination, stockpiling vaccines, and treatments such as the antibody ‘cocktail’ REGN-COV2 (otherwise known as Regeneron).
White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci reported that Omicron is now responsible for an “unprecedented” 73% of US cases. Some researchers have theorized that the pace of transmissions could hasten the march towards the endemic stage—although there will be significant hospitalizations and deaths along the way. In reflection of current healthcare disparities, Black, Indigenous, and Latinx communities are most likely to be impacted.
Researchers predict that endemic coronavirus will be no more harmful than the seasonal flu, with a decreased 90-95% likelihood of dying compared to early 2020. This would decrease the mortality rate similar to the flu: 0.05%-0.1%.
As of the time of reporting, 62% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated and 30% of those individuals have received a booster.