The world cannot function in a state of permanent heightened alert, Menon, who has been tracking Covid numbers since the start of the pandemic, added.
More than two years after declaring Covid-19 an international emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now expressing optimism that the Covid-19 pandemic is coming to an end.
“We’ve spent two and a half years in a long, dark tunnel and we’re starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of that tunnel,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros said next to UN General. Assembly on Thursday.
“But it’s still far, and the tunnel is still dark, with many obstacles that could trip us up if we’re not careful,” he added.
Tedros told a news conference last week that the world has never been better positioned to end the pandemic. We’re not there yet, but the end is in sight,” he said.
“This is certainly an indicator that a major phase of the current epidemic is now ending, although we should be careful how we interpret the word ‘end’,” Menon warned.
Epidemiologist Ramanan Lakshminarayan agreed, saying that as long as people are vaccinated the risk of Covid is low so they should not worry about the epidemic in terms of their health.
“Due to vaccination and mass population exposure, the risk of hospitalization and death has come down a lot, so in terms of moving forward with public attention, this is only to be expected,” Lakshminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington (CDDEP), told PTI. .
On September 22, daily reported global deaths stood at 1,395, the lowest since March 2020, while the number of new cases was 4,28,321 (4.2 lakh), the lowest since October 2020, according to the WHO coronavirus dashboard.
Daily cases peaked in January 2022, with the number reaching 4,040,309 (40.4 lakh) on 26 January. The highest death toll was reported on July 21, 2021, with 20,005 deaths.
In India, the number of daily cases reached 4,14,188 on May 7, 2021, while the highest death toll was 6,148 on June 10, 2021. On Friday, the country reported 5,383 new cases and 20 deaths due to Covid. The global weekly death toll from the virus has not exceeded 20,000 since mid-April, even as the number of cases rises.
Cell biologist Sanjeev Galande points out that the pandemic is showing signs of ending soon, but the coronavirus may be with us for much longer.
“If we look at the trends from the beginning of 2022, overall cases, hospitalizations and deaths in most countries – though not all – are declining rapidly,” Galande, dean of School of Natural Sciences, Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence, told PTI. .
There is growing evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will eventually become seasonal, which is characteristic of several other respiratory illnesses, Gallande noted.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate for hospitalized patients has dropped dramatically.
“It was around 15 percent during the heyday of the delta variant and has dropped to below 3 percent at the omicron level late last year, which is good news!,” says Gallande.
Experts say the worst may be over but it may be a while before we declare the end of the epidemic.
The WHO has warned that the coronavirus still constitutes an acute global emergency and highlighted that more than one million people have died from COVID-19 in the first eight months of 2022.
It also confirmed that countries need to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them for COVID-19 and future viruses, urging countries to vaccinate 100 percent of their high-risk groups and continue testing for the virus.
According to Lakshminarayan, as tests move from the lab to the home, the number of reported cases can give a false impression that the epidemic is over.
“But the main thing is that we should get vaccinated and stop worrying,” he added.
Menon said we might hope that we are emerging from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic, if more transmissible and more virulent variant strains do not emerge.
Going forward, he said, decisions about what steps to take to protect themselves can now be left up to the individual and not require further state intervention, particularly in punitive ways.
In Lakshminarayan’s view, the message for policy makers should be to focus on Covid vaccination and for the general public not to worry as long as they are being vaccinated.
“While the Covid disease is not going away, it is unlikely that we will see a major resurgence in Covid deaths and hospitalizations once we return to normal life.
“A new strain that is dangerous can always emerge but we can take appropriate measures at that time,” the scientist added.
Globally, as of September 22, 2022, there have been 610,866,075 (over 61 crore) confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 6,510,139 (65 lakh) deaths, reported to WHO. As of September 19, 2022, a total of 12,640,866,343 (1,264 crore) vaccine doses have been administered.