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What’s next in the COVID pandemic?

What's next in the COVID pandemic? The simple truth is, we do not know yet.

The Omicron rise will end and the cases will fall back to lower levels. But what happens next depends on several factors.

Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the FDA's advisory vaccine committee, believes omicron will soon be on its way out. But which variant will emerge next time?

"There is a good chance that we will see another serious COVID wave of a new variant of TBD, which needs to be decided, which starts this summer," said Dr. Peter Hotez, Baylor College of Medicine.

Read: Michigan hospital officials cite early signs of early progress since COVID omicron rise

The ultimate question right now is whether those who have developed antibodies to omicron will still be protected against the next variant. If they were, it would be a big step forward. If they are not, it would be a setback.

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"It's an open question as to whether omicron will be the 'live virus vaccination' that everyone is hoping for because you have so much variety with new variants popping up," Chief Medical Advisor to President Dr. Anthony said Fauci.

Meanwhile, experts warn against taking omicron too lightly. People who are vaccinated and boosted are far less likely to require hospitalization or become seriously ill.

Read: Michigan reports 86,009 new COVID cases, 501 deaths - an average of 17,202 cases per day

The big hope right now is that the next variant will also be milder, vaccines will continue to be effective, and we can move closer to making COVID more similar to the flu. We can only wait and see.

What about the antiviral drugs that were recently approved?

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They can have a big impact. In particular, Pfizer's PAXLOVID was very effective in reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. Right now, the supply is very limited, but as more doses become available, it may also move us in a better direction.

Researchers are hoping that these drugs will remain effective even when new variants emerge.

Read: Full Michigan COVID coverage

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