Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, asserted on Friday that COVID-19 will become an endemic virus in the United States and other Western countries once the recent rise in Delta variant infections calms down. Likewise, two professors—one from Stanford and one from Harvard—have essentially declared the pandemic over, writing that “In [the] USA, COVID mortality is now the lowest since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.”
Gottlieb’s Views on COVID-19 Becoming Endemic
Appearing on CNBC, Gottlieb, who sits on the board at Pfizer, said there are already indications cases are declining despite the current pressure on hospitals. From a patient standpoint, he said the situation is going to get worse before it gets better “even as new cases start to decline on the day over days basis. He continued, saying, “By September, hopefully, you’ll see the other side of the curve in the South very clearly.” Noting that he expects the spread of the Delta variant to remain noteworthy in the weeks ahead, he added:
“You’re going to see the Delta wave course through probably between late September through October. Hopefully, we’ll be on the other side of it or coming on the other side of it sometime in November, and we won’t see a big surge of infection after this on the other side of this Delta wave.”
"We are transitioning from this being a pandemic to being more of an endemic virus at least here in the United States," says @ScottGottliebMD. "It's not a binary point in time, but I think after we get through this delta wave this is going to become more of an endemic illness." pic.twitter.com/lDVl2NofNm
— Squawk Box (@SquawkCNBC) August 13, 2021
On Thursday, the FDA approved, under emergency use authorization (EUA), booster shots for those with weakened immune systems, including the elderly and many other vulnerable people. Then on Friday, the CDC gave final approval to the measure, which Gottlieb said “was a little more narrow” than it could have been, leaving the agency to further evaluate the decision. According to Gottlieb, booster shots won’t be needed every six months. He said:
“I think what we said from the outset is this could become an annual inoculation much like the flu shot. It might be every other year.”
Former Acting CDC Director Dr. Richard Besser tells @jonkarl that he doesn’t think the recent spike in COVID-19 cases will lead to shutdowns as more Americans get vaccinated.
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 15, 2021
BMJ Study Confirms COVID-19 Will Become Endemic
Gottlieb’s belief is not new. The British Journal of Medicine (BMJ) shares the view that COVID-19 will become endemic. An article published on February 18, 2021, states that “SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will not be eradicated but will become endemic, continuing to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come and causing outbreaks in regions where it had been eliminated, scientists working in the field believe.”
The study—which is the result of a January survey of over 100 immunologists, infectious disease researchers, and virologists working on SARS-CoV-2—predicts that the worldwide impact of COVID-19 “in terms of death, illness, and the need for social isolation will lessen as more of the population acquires some immunity to it through exposure to the virus or from vaccination.”
Nearly 90% of the experts in the BMJ study said that they expected the coronavirus to become endemic. At the same time, more than a third believe it would be possible to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 from some regions of the world. The study states:
Over time COVID-19 could become a disease first encountered in early childhood when it would typically cause mild infection or none at all, Jennie Lavine, an infectious disease researcher at Emory University in Atlanta, USA, told Nature. Although that defense would wane quickly and not be sufficient to block reinfection entirely, it could be enough to protect adults experiencing severe symptoms.
For those curious, Dictionary.com offers a straightforward definition of the words epidemic, pandemic, and endemic: “Think of an epidemic as the start of something—whether a disease or a trend—spreading rapidly within a community or region, whereas a pandemic is what an epidemic becomes once it reaches a far wider swath of people, especially across continents or the entire world. Endemic is an adjective that means natural to, native to, confined to, or widespread within a place or population of people.”
Harvard and Stanford Professors Declare End to Pandemic
Undoubtedly, despite the current rise in hospitalizations due to the Delta variant as indicated by Gottlieb, information on July 28, 2021, reveals deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. were at the lowest level since March 2020. As pointed out by Harvard Medical School Professor Martin Kulldorff, far more people died from COVID-19 many months ago as restrictions were easing than are dying today. Yet, remarkably, some are currently calling for restrictions all over again. Speaking of the current situation with the Delta variant, Stanford Professor of Medicine Jay Bhattacharya commented to the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE):
“It is striking that COVID mortality is at such low levels despite the fact that we are seeing an increase in cases of late. By immunizing the elderly and many other vulnerable people, we have provided them with excellent protection against severe disease in case they get infected. Also contributing is widespread natural immunity from recovered COVID patients. Though cases may rise, deaths will no longer follow in proportion. We have effectively defanged the disease with our successful vaccination rollout.”
— Martin Kulldorff (@MartinKulldorff) July 28, 2021
Bhattacharya went on to say that “We should be declaring a great and resounding success. The COVID emergency is over. We still need to take COVID seriously, and there are still vulnerable people here and abroad left to vaccinate. But we can start to treat it as one disease among many that afflict people rather than an all-consuming threat.”
FEE points out that advocates of big government—and even government officials themselves—will be the last ones to acknowledge that the most deadly stretch of COVID-19 has “long since come to an end in the U.S.” Explaining the hesitation behind the motives of those currently in power, as well as sharing its opinion in more detail, FEE explains:
Why? Because the rhetoric of “emergency” and “crisis” is the government’s favorite tool to use in expanding and maintaining its power over our lives. But, whether politicians like it or not, the COVID-19 crisis is largely over. So don’t fall for cynical arguments from power-hungry individuals who want their “emergency” powers to become permanent.