Pandemic to EndemicInsights
January 27, 2022
As cases of COVID-19 become increasingly mild and isolated, we have hope of a ‘new normal’ through continued vaccinations and testing
Starting February 1, 2022, Denmark has made the bold decision to lift most pandemic restrictions in the country. This includes mandatory isolation for infected individuals, vaccine passports for restaurants and concerts, and even mask mandates for public places.
You might think they did this because their COVID-19 cases are low. Far from it: with a population of almost 6 million, Denmark’s Covid-19 cases are still relatively high per capita, with a 7-day average of around 45,000 new cases as of early February.
The Danish government came to their decision based on several factors: over 80% of their population has been vaccinated (61% with booster); the prevalent Omicron variant has only mild symptoms and is rarely life-threatening. More importantly, the country’s healthcare system is not overwhelmed with hospitalizations. Because of these reasons and others, the government has deemed that, for now, COVID-19 is no longer a ‘socially critical sickness’ and does not have to disrupt the lives and freedoms of its citizens.
This ‘Live with COVID-19’ approach may be controversial, and it may not be applicable to other countries with different situations, but it highlights two realities we need to consider: first, the COVID-19 virus (and all its variants) may be with us for a long time, if not perennial like the flu; second, do we need to totally eradicate COVID-19 to return to our closest approximation of a “new normal”?
The World Health Organization has stated that the broad spread of the Omicron variant “offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization,” as the immunity that comes with recovery will help countries live with the disease. Meanwhile, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, in a recent interview, has said that as the US sees an end to its ‘full-blown pandemic phase’, public health restrictions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated.
These encouraging statements, combined with news of the rapid surge and decline of Omicron infections around the world, have given us reason to be cautiously optimistic about the idea of Living with COVID 19. Through new interventions entering the market, like the innovative oral vaccine Paxlovid Antiviral Treatment and the fast and effective COVID-19 testing kit INDICAID Rapid Antigen Test, robust vaccinations and testing can significantly reduce COVID-19 infections and transmission. This will allow people and communities to return to their lives and get back a sense of normalcy that has been missing since the pandemic began.