End of pandemic leads to beginning of endemic

Experts say COVID-19 is shifting from a pandemic to an endemic. Photo Illustration by Camryn Duffy

By Ana Ruiz Brictson | Staff Writer

As COVID-19 cases begin to decrease, the possibility for the two-year-long pandemic to become an endemic is more likely to happen in the upcoming months.

According to clinical associate professor Dr. Benjamin Ryan, in terms of the endemic phase, the virus is in a more steady state. He said the spread of the omicron variant was a step toward the pandemic becoming an endemic.

Ryan said even though cases may currently be peaking in Europe with a sub-variant of omicron, there is almost not near a third of the number of hospitalizations there were at the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’re starting to see that endemic phase start to really emerge now,” Ryan said. “So, what happens during a pandemic, you have a big rise in cases, then you have a few waves, and when you reach a point where you’ve had a sufficient number of people vaccinated or have had the virus, that’s where it starts to become endemic.”

Ryan said the race to reach an endemic level is observed through the sub-variants of each variant of COVID-19.

“The subversion of omicron doesn’t seem to be any worse; it’s probably less severe than omicron, which is less severe than delta,” Ryan said. “So you can see the cascading elements, but it’s getting more contagious, so we’re probably about the same level of contagiousness as chickenpox.”

Additionally, Ryan said as the summer gets closer, there will probably be ups and downs in cases, but there is no forecasting indicating a spike.

Ryan said currently, there appears to be more normalcy compared to the beginning of the pandemic. He said the only things that remain in place are the federal laws to wear face coverings on transportation and testing requirements for international travel.

Nicaragua sophomore Jose Manzanares said after experiencing what it’s like to have COVID-19, he believes the virus should be treated like the flu.

“At some point, it is going to be the same thing,” Manzanares said. “The same thing happened with any infectious pandemic we’ve had — the Spanish flu, small pox, all that stuff.”

Manzanares said because of the pandemic, he missed out on having a normal college experience, having to spend it back home his first year. Now that he is on campus, he said he believes the return to normalcy will not change how things used to be before the pandemic began.

“We’re pretty much at that normal phase now, and it’s really a transition period,” Ryan said.