Opinion | When Will the Covid Pandemic End?

One way or another – through vaccination or infection – experts say the coronavirus will eventually become endemic: outbreaks will be rarer and smaller, hospitalizations and deaths will decrease.

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Questions and asks about the Covid-19 vaccine.

How long it will take to get there remains an open question. In the United States, it is “certainly possible” that some areas will be classified as endemic in 2022, Joshua Petrie, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told Vox.

But until then, as Catherine Eban wrote last month for The Times, the coronavirus is unlikely to go away. “Nobody is trying to eradicate Covid from the planet,” Dr. Dara Cass, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center told her. “If that was a goal, that’s not the goal now.” Instead, she said, “we try to remove it from being a guiding force in our lives.”

For some Americans, it really was. As my colleague David Leonhardt wrote recently, the risk of contracting Covid in some highly vaccinated communities is low enough that many vaccinated people are comfortable living relatively undisturbed. In Seattle, the daily Covid hospitalization rate for vaccinated people was just above one in a million. By comparison, the rate of hospitalizations for influenza in a typical year in the United States is more than double.

“My feeling right now is that we’re approaching a stable state where things might get a little better, or worse, in the next few years. It’s not great, but it is what it is,” Dr. Robert Wachter, chief of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Washington Post. “For me, especially once I get the booster, it makes me take more risks, mainly because if I’m not comfortable doing it now, I’m basically saying I won’t do it for several years, maybe forever.”

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