When Will the Pandemic Be Over?

Some say COVID-19 will soon be endemic, but an epidemiologist warns that a return to normalcy may leave communities of color and other vulnerable populations at risk

For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted virtually every facet of life. Now, some people are ready to ditch the masks and other precautions. COVID will eventually transition from pandemic to endemic, the argument goes, so we might as well let it spread and get to endemicity sooner. 

The textbook definition of endemic is when an illness is always present in a given population, but at predictable levels, unlike the waves of COVID cases we’ve seen in the pandemic. But what does “endemic” for COVID-19 look like? And what’s the best way to get there?  

Ramnath Subbaraman, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, cautions against simply “declaring that we’re done.”  

To learn more about endemicity, Tufts Now recently spoke to Subbaraman, who is the associate director of the Tufts Center for Global Public Health and an infectious disease physician specializing in tuberculosis, which is considered endemic in certain parts of the world and was the leading infectious cause of death worldwide before COVID-19 arrived.

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