- Plenty of people are making predictions about when the COVID-19 pandemic may end or significantly be reduced.
- According to recent mathematical modeling, the Delta variant is peaking, and cases should steadily decline through the winter.
- We talked with experts about what they’re expecting in the next year.
As we near the 2-year mark for the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, experts are offering predictions on how the situation might change going into 2022.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview with CNN that we could start having some control over the pandemic come spring, while Moderna’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, thinks the pandemic could be over in a year.
And, according to recent mathematical modeling, the Delta variant is peaking, and cases should steadily decline through the winter.
Healthline asked experts to weigh in on how likely these predictions are, and what they think it will take to get past the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think at this point, it’s hard to predict anything,” Dr. Vidya Mony, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, told Healthline.
She also pointed out it’s “quite optimistic” to believe the pandemic will be over in a year, and emphasized the nature of the pandemic requires global solutions.
“By definition, this is an infectious disease that is spread worldwide,” Mony said. “Unless we are able to vaccinate the entire world, it is quite possible that we will continue to have variants and continue to have transmission.”
According to Mony, the United States may have dropped pandemic restrictions too soon.
“Though we knew about the Delta variant and its deleterious effects from India, the U.S. started opening up in June,” she said. “Which, as we all know, in retrospect was not the greatest recommendation.”
According to Dr. Charles Bailey, medical director for infection prevention at Providence Mission Hospital and Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, there’s evidence that natural immunity is at least as protective as immunity produced by vaccination, and that a single vaccine dose can further bolster natural immunity.
“These facts should be taken into account when national and international vaccination policies are developed,” he said.
“Providing an optional booster dose to recovered COVID patients who choose to take it would expand the pool of vaccine doses available to immunize vulnerable individuals who have not yet become ill,” he continued.
The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub predicts pandemic deaths will fall below 100 per day by March 2022.
Dr. Louis Morledge, internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, thinks new variants can “change things radically.”
“I’m not sure that’s feasible,” he said. “But I think if a superspreader is out there, for whatever reason, whether it’s natural mutation, whether it’s [something] vaccinated immunity can fight against, we’re going to be in a different circumstance.”
But Morledge also believes vaccination could be the deciding factor in reduced deaths.
“For the most part, what I’m seeing is people who are vaccinated, while there are breakthrough infections that occur from time to time, those tend to be very, very minor, tend to be without any need to access the next level of healthcare. People are not necessarily having to go to the emergency room, are not being hospitalized,” he said.
Morledge added that, provided we’re careful to get as many people as possible under the “vaccination umbrella,” life could be much easier 6 to 12 months from now.
Dr. David Hirschwerk, an infectious disease specialist with Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, said while vaccination may be the way out of the pandemic, vaccine hesitancy, especially regarding children, makes him skeptical about the outcome.
“The more extensive our population is vaccinated, the better the control of COVID will be,” he said, adding that the pandemic may look different in a year, but he is “having trouble imagining that the virus will not remain in circulation.”
According to Hirschwerk, while there’s no argument that expanded vaccine uptake will lead to better COVID-19 control, vaccine hesitancy is a problem.
“This applies to adults who have not been vaccinated as well as their support to have their children vaccinated,” he said.
“I hope the models are correct, but there have been so many unforeseen surprises with this virus that I am not willing to make a prediction,” Hirschwerk said.
Health officials and other experts have predicted that the pandemic will improve significantly by sometime next year.
Experts say that although some of these predictions may prove accurate, factors like the United States reopening too soon this year and vaccine hesitancy could delay progress.
They also say that the sooner we get everyone — adults and children — vaccinated, the more likely we’ll see improvement and get past the current crisis in the coming months.