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    In 2022, what can we expect? Ten public health specialists advice, here is what they say

    Currently, experts say that COVID-19 will have an impact on us for at least the next few months of 2022. So Health experts have spoke about some major asked questions related to pandemic as follows:

    Is Omicron a topic of concern?

    Omicron appears to be more transmissible and a less severe disease. Well, Dr. Bernard Camins, medical director for infection prevention at the Mount Sinai Health System, told TODAY, and “From the signals that we’ve seen so far in the U.K. and South Africa, we can expect to see more breakthrough infections with omicron, and there’s a good chance that it is probably going to become the dominant strain, at least for now, and overtake delta,” said Dr. Taison Bell, assistant professor of medicine in the divisions of infectious diseases and international health and pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Virginia.  “It’s hard to know,” Bell stated, “but I think it’ll vary depending on if you’re in a community that’s highly vaccinated or one that’s low vaccinated.” 

    Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and director of ICAP,  predicted that we’ll see “a divergence” with low levels of COVID-19 transmission. She said, “And that will contrast starkly with other parts of the world and other communities where there will continue to be high levels of transmission as well as, unfortunately, high rates of hospitalizations and deaths,”  “I feel we’re about to see this divergence very, very vividly happening in front of our eyes.”

    More concerning coronavirus variants will occur?

    Omicron “tells us that until everybody in the world is vaccinated and the virus has no place to go, we should expect that new variants are going to continuously emerge,” Michael Gale, professor of immunology at the University of Washington School of Medicine stated. 

    “We have to look at this as a global problem and get everybody protected,” Bruce Walker, director of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard, said, “Because every time the virus gets into somebody it has a chance to mutate and, potentially, become more lethal,” he added.

    Requirement of COVID-19 booster shots increases?

    Whether or not we’ll need additional COVID-19 booster shots in 2022, said Dr. Thaddeus Stappenbeck, chair of the department of inflammation and immunity at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute.  Walker added, “My sense is that we probably won’t need a new booster that’s omicron-specific, but that there may be other variants coming along that will require that.” 

    Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency medicine physician and associate dean for strategy and innovation at the Brown School of Public Health, told TODAY, “I suspect that at some point if the virus continues to mutate, we will need some new versions of the vaccine that are specific for new mutations,”  “Whether we will need a fourth shot of the exact same formulation that we got all along, I just really can’t say one way or another yet.” 

    Will there be one more surge in the winter or a drop when the weather warms up?

    “I’m hoping that the surge this year is not as bad as last year because we do have vaccinated populations already,” Camins said. “This winter, though, things are open. We’re no longer social distancing.” Grad expects to see “exponential growth of omicron cases” in the U.S. similar to what’s already been seen in South Africa and the United Kingdom. 

    What does “learning to live with COVID-19”  look like?

     “If there’s one major frustration that I’ve had so far, it’s that we are not using rapid tests the way that we need to at the scale that we need to,” Bell said. Grad added, “Rapid testing is one of our totally underused mitigation measures,”  Rapid tests are “terrific for reducing spread whether you’re in the workplace, at a gathering or party or if you’re feeling sick to get a quick take on whether or not you likely have COVID,” explained Ranney. “If we had easy, cheap and abundant access to rapid tests, those would become part of (our approach to keeping safe around) the holidays or other kinds of events, or to keep kids in schools,” Grad stated.

    How long do we need to wear masks?

     “I think people are pretty comfortable (attending high-risk gatherings and events) now depending on where they are,” Kelen stated.  “My motto has been, ‘If you can see their full face, don’t be in their space,’ especially when I’m indoors in public,” Bell added further. “I still think that’s a good strategy.” He said, “When I think about the lives that could be saved by something that’s very simple, I think there’s power in that,” and for Bell, “it’s something that I definitely think we’ll see in 2022” and more to add. 

    Will the new antiviral medications play an essential role in 2022?

    Both Pfizer and Merck are working on antiviral medications decreasing danger of COVID-19 symptoms. The Pfizer option (Paxlovid) appears to be 89% effective.  “It’s really exciting to potentially have options for oral therapy that act very early,” Dr. Judith Currier, professor of medicine in the UCLA division of infectious diseases, told TODAY. “The antivirals now are going to be absolutely critical,” Stappenbeck said. Ranney agreed stating,  “This is going to be a really important part of our coming to live with COVID, which is ultimately going to be the reality,” she said of the antivirals.  

    Will kids have to continue learning from home?

    Walker stated, “There’s an emerging consensus that we just have to keep the schools open, we have to go back to interacting, and that kids are lacking socialization that’s really detrimental. “We have to use other mitigation approaches to try and keep the schools open.”  Keeping children in school “has to be one of our top priorities,” Ranney added, “And masks are a big part of that; getting our kids and our teachers vaccinated is a big part of that too.”

    What will be helpful to end the pandemic in  2022?

    People should be provided with clear explanations of facts about the way vaccines work, said Walker, whose Ragon Institute was involved with the development of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. “Omicron has actually convinced some people who were previously hesitant to get vaccinated,” Kelen said. El-Sadar stated,  “This is the most urgent global priority that exists now,”  “And I certainly believe there’s a way to tackle it … Vaccination is going to define the future of this pandemic.”

    Swetha Sivakumar
    Swetha Sivakumar
    I am currently pursuing my B.E. in Computer Science and writing is my passion! I love travelling and exploring new places and if I'm not writing, you will find me spending my time reading articles online.

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