COVID-19 endemic stage could be two years away

The coronavirus pandemic could last for nearly two more years before becoming an endemic, according to new Yale research.

The endemic stage will be when the virus becomes more of a seasonal nuisance, like the cold or flu, that is not seriously harmful to much of the population.

A new study, published in the journal PNAS Nexus, looked at rats to model a potential future with the virus. Rats can also get coronaviruses.

Researchers looked at a coronavirus that is similar to one that causes the common cold in humans and how it was transmitted among rats.  They created mathematical models to find that the pandemic could take a total of about 4 years to end.

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They arrived at an endemic state in which 15% of the population remains susceptible to reinfection. Similar to endemic coronaviral infections in other animals, transmission states are altered by the introduction of new variants, even with vaccination.

The authors said that it appears increasingly likely that eventual widespread immunity combined with reduced viral pathogenicity, as seen with the Omicron variant may reduce SARS-CoV-2 to an endemic seasonal respiratory infection with severe disease manifesting primarily in older or medically vulnerable persons.