SAN FRANCISCO (CROWN) - There is growing talk in the medical community that the COVID-19 pandemic may soon enter the "endemic" phase.
"What an endemic phase of a viral infection means is that it does not cause the terrible hospitalizations in the pandemic phase, but that we want sufficient immunity of a population so that it is kept down at low levels," said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious person. pathologist at the University of California, San Francisco.
California Gov. Newsom's administration predicts it will happen in a month.
"This is a challenging period," Newsom said during a recent news conference. "We have to get through this. Just a few more weeks."
However, experts have warned that the unpredictability of the variant makes it difficult to set a timeline.
"We are still some distance away" from COVID-19 when endemic, said Dr. Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer and COVID-19 incident manager at the WHO's Health Emergencies Program, during a virtual Europe news conference last week.
Exhausted after two years of the pandemic, many wonder what life will look like exactly when we officially reach the endemic.
"We probably will not mask, distance ourselves, track contact, do asymptomatic tests," said Dr. Gandhi.
"We will deal with it more like the flu, which is vaccines, treatment and recommendation of masks for the vulnerable inside," said Dr. Gandhi.
Dr. Gandhi says the highly transmissible omicron variant could make the pandemic endemic.
"There is [an] incredible number of cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated. What it does is that it exposes you to the whole virus and you develop antibodies, T cells and B cells across the whole virus, ”said Dr. Gandhi.
Infection doctors monitor the omicron rise around the world. Data from wastewater samples indicate that the omicron is declining.
"In Boston, wastewater shows a 40 percent drop in COVID, we have all turned a corner in California with COVID wastewater volumes, which means the amount of COVID is falling," said Dr. Gandhi. “It will be reflected in the fact that our cases will fall in a few days. "Normally, wastewater monitoring goes first, and when it does come down, it will quickly go down."