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Anticipating what happens next with COVID-19 as the Omicron wave recedes

Dr. Ali Mokdad. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE
Dr. Ali Mokdad. Photo: Matthew Peddie / WMFE

The Omicron wave of COVID-19 appears to have peaked in Florida. Reported cases surged above the Delta variant last summer, but Omicron appears less severe than previous mutations of the virus. Meanwhile,  a new subvariant of Omicron has now been detected. 

For more on the Omicron wave and what it means for the pandemic, we talk to epidemiologist Dr. Ali Mokdad, Professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and Chief Strategy Officer for Population Health at the University of Washington.

Mokdad said he believes COVID-19 will move from a pandemic into an endemic phase as Omicron recedes. 

“The fact is you can get immunity through an infection or through vaccines. Omicron has leveled the playing field. People who are not vaccinated unfortunately got infected.”

Still, he said people should still take precautions, getting vaccinated and where necessary using masks. 

“In many states it has peaked and it’s coming down but we need to remember, a peak meaning 50% of the infections have occurred, on the decline there are still 50% of infections that are to be diagnosed and they will come through the hospitals," said Mokdad.

"So we have two three weeks ahead of us that are difficult, but after that we should be in a very good position, simply because many of us will have immunity through infections or vaccines.”

Antiviral medication and new vaccines also put us in a better position to deal with COVID-19 going forward, said Mokdad.

"Most importantly, even if COVID-19 throws at us a new variant that's an escaped variant and more severe than Omicron, we know to put our masks on and go to social distancing."