Experts say the pandemic is unlikely to end soon, and the next variant may be more severe than Omicron.


Below is a plethora of health experts that explain that it’s premature to say that just because Omicron is somewhat less severe than Delta, the pandemic is over. They say due to the high number of infections around the world, more variants are bound to emerge. The goal of variants is to escape our immune systems, and they could be more severe than Omicron. The idea that viruses normally evolve to be milder is a myth that has been debunked by experts.


Dr. Gregory Poland

Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group. Link


“This is spreading unlike anything we’ve seen in the U.S.,” says Dr. Gregory Poland. “As long as Covid is able to mutate, lasting immunity is likely off the table.Link

“There is no eradication at this point, it’s off the table. The only thing we can talk about is control.”. Link

“If you got your flu vaccine this fall, and I hope you did, then you got vaccinated against a variant of influenza that first showed up in 1918. So, a hundred-plus years later, we’re still vaccinating against that,” Poland adds. “One hundred years from now, our great, great, whatever that will be, great grandchildren will be getting immunized against coronavirus.” Link


Dr. Luis Ostrosky-Zeichner

Infectious Disease Expert. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology. The Vice-Chair of Medicine for Healthcare Quality. The Director of the Laboratory of Mycology Research. The Division Chief at the Division of Infectious Diseases of the McGovern Medical School (a part of UTHealth). Link


“I see Omicron as our kind of final warning shot.” Link

Dr. Ostrosky said if countries don’t do something “drastic and permanent,”, he believes “Covid will mutate to produce a variant that is completely resistant to the vaccines, therapeutics, and even detection through currently available testing.” Link

“We always start seeing declining antibodies a few months out, An infection with this particular variant doesn’t guarantee protection against future variants.”  Link 


Dr. Hilary Fairbrother

Emergency Medicine Physician. Associate Professor at McGovern Medical School, UTHealth at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Chair of the American Medical Association’s Young Physicians Section. Link


“This idea of natural immunity is not really panning out with this virus. I think part of that is because Omicron has so many mutations, and there’s really no way to know what the next variant will have.” Link

“For patients who had alpha or delta, they seem to have next to no immunity when it comes to omicron. There is some evidence that there’s slightly less severity in disease, and other people have certainly seen patients who are very sick with omicron who have already had Covid.” Link


Aria Katzourakis

Professor of Evolution and Genomics at Oxford. Tutorial Fellow of St Hilda’s College. Link


“Stating that an infection will become endemic says nothing about how long it might take to reach stasis, what the case rates, morbidity levels or death rates will be or, crucially, how much of a population — and which sectors — will be susceptible. Nor does it suggest guaranteed stability: there can still be disruptive waves from endemic infections, as seen with the US measles outbreak in 2019.” Link

“The same virus can cause endemic, epidemic or pandemic infections: it depends on the interplay of a population’s behavior, demographic structure, susceptibility and immunity, plus whether viral variants emerge. Different conditions across the world can allow more-successful variants to evolve, and these can seed new waves of epidemics.” Link

“It is likely that some viruses went ‘extinct’ on their own and still caused high rates of mortality on the way out. There is a widespread, rosy misconception that viruses evolve over time to become more benign. This is not the case: there is no predestined evolutionary outcome for a virus to become more benign, especially ones, such as SARS-CoV-2….” Link


Lauren Ancel Meyers

Professor of Statistical and Data Science and Director of the COVID-19 Modeling Consortium at the University of Texas in Austin. Link


“We’re going to be battling pockets of low vaccination for a long time,” said Meyers, of the University of Texas. “COVID-19 is such a stealthy virus – it spreads quickly and silently – it won’t start to fade away until the vast majority of the people are immunized.” Link 

Meyers said Omicron could one day be seen as “a turning point in the pandemic.” She added, “At some point, we’ll be able to draw a line — and omicron may be that point — where we transition from what is a catastrophic global threat to something that’s a much more manageable disease.” Link


Dr. Anthony Fauci

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Link


“We certainly are not going to eradicate Covid.” Link

“The worst-case scenario is we’re on our way there and we get hit with another variant that actually eludes the immune protection. I hope that’s not the case.” Link


James Hamblin

American Physician specializing in Public Health and Preventive Medicine; former Staff Writer at The Atlantic. Link


“If you carry the virus, it will mutate within you. You could be the person in whom a new, even more threatening variant emerges. You could seed the entire world with it.” Link

“There are two basic ways that a coronavirus can become more transmissible. One is by binding more effectively to human cells. When this happens, a person who inhales viral particles becomes slightly more likely to develop an infection. The other is by replicating more efficiently, creating higher numbers of viral particles (higher “viral load”) in an infected person, so that they exhale more particles with each breath (making it statistically more likely that one of the particles will infect someone else).” Link

“The peril is not that the virus will suddenly change in an extraordinary way that transforms the pandemic, but that it is changing in small, ordinary ways that are playing out on a vast scale, and whose significance we may not appreciate until it’s too late.” Link


Dr. Sean Clouston

PhD. Epidemiologist. Associate Professor of Public Health at Stony Brook University in New York. Link


“Waning vaccination may mean that we need annual vaccinations (in the early fall) to maintain higher levels of protection, and to respond to new variants as they emerge, But flu shots show us that this is difficult and people do not always get them, so we should anticipate regular winter waves [of COVID-19].” Link


Dr. Timothy Brewer

Professor of Epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Link


“Like most respiratory viruses, it’s probably going to be worse during cold months and less so during warm.” Link

“We have to stop acting like if we do everything right, we’re going to make this virus completely go away.” Link


Bill Gates

Co-Founder of Gates Foundation. Founder of Microsoft.  Link


“Communities will still see occasional outbreaks, but new drugs will be available that could take care of most cases and hospitals will be able to handle the rest. … Your individual risk level will be low enough that you won’t need to factor it into your decision-making as much. It won’t be primary when deciding whether to work from the office or let your kids go to their soccer game or watch a movie in a theater. In a couple years, my hope is that the only time you will really have to think about the virus is when you get your joint COVID and flu vaccine every fall.” Link

“Covid boosters designed to target new variants could also become commonplace, since viruses that continually circulate often mutate into new strains.” Link


Dr. Elizabeth Halloran

Epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Professor and Head of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Epidemiology Program Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division, Fred Hutch. Link


“Everyone has stopped talking about getting rid of Covid,” Dr. Elizabeth Halloran said of her fellow researchers. “It’s not going away, and that means it’s going to be endemic. … But it’s a ‘dynamic equilibrium’ ” Link

“The really open question for me — or maybe for public health or all of us — is when it becomes endemic and people become infected, how much severe disease and death does it cause?” Link


Dr. Arnold Monto

Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Michigan. Acting Chair of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Link


“There’s not even a measurement to say that something is an epidemic or pandemic. All of this is in the eye of the beholder — and that’s part of the issue.”  Link

“With the change in transmission patterns, as the variants have emerged — I call it a parade of variants — we now see much more extensive transmission and much more uniform spread globally. This makes declaring the end of the pandemic more difficult,” Monto said. “Because the whole pattern of spread has changed, and there may still be pockets that really haven’t gone through the kind of waves that the rest of the world has gone through.” Link


Dr. William Schaffner

Professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Medical Director of the National Foundation For Infectious Diseases. Link


“We’ve been told that this virus will disappear. But it will not,” Dr. William added “We need to control it. We need to diminish its impact. But it’s going to be around hassling us for the foreseeable future. And by that I mean — years.” Link

Schaffner adds it would be best to give up the idea of going “back to normal,” and instead settle in for the “new normal”. “The third, fourth and fifth years of COVID should not be anywhere close to as awful as the first one was,” he says. But in this new normal, “many of us will no longer be quite as carefree as we used to be.” Link

“New strains can show up and cause a certain amount of disease,” he said. “Each year we cope with that by getting as many people vaccinated as possible.” Link


Paul Turner

Rachel Carson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale. Link


“If a population can improve in its environment, evolution lets that happen. The virus population size is expanding, and mutations spontaneously occur.” Link

“If you see a mutation that could allow the virus to escape detection by the immune system, or escape vaccine coverage, that’s very worrisome.” Link

“… right now there are so many people infected, and the virus is in a new environment [humans instead of bats], so I’m not surprised that evolution is pushing it to improve.” Link


Dr. Margaret Liu

M.D. Chairman of the Board of the International Society for Vaccines. Link


“The more variants there are, the probability increases that one that is more deadly and/or escapes prior immune responses — whether from vaccines or from prior infection — will occur.” Link

“One of the challenges for understanding the exact impact of a variant is that the mutations can affect proteins other than spike, so there can be effects on viability and replication, etc., not just effects on how well spike binds to the ACE2 receptor or how well antibodies neutralize.” Link


Dr. Stuart Campbell Ray

Vice Chair of Medicine for Data Integrity and Analytics, Department of Medicine at John Hopkins University. Professor of Medicine at John Hopkins University. Infectious Disease Expert. Covid-19 Expert. Link 


“It’s the longer, persistent infections that seem to be the most likely breeding grounds for new variants. It’s only when you have very widespread infection that you’re going to provide the opportunity for that to occur.” Link

“People have wondered whether the virus will evolve to mildness. But there’s no particular reason for it to do so,” he said. “I don’t think we can be confident that the virus will become less lethal over time.” Link


Dr. Hiral Tipirneni

Emergency Medicine Physician. Link 


“We know that new variants will crop up. That’s why it’s so important to continue to work on vaccinating not just our nation but all around the globe. Because as long as there are hosts for this virus, as long as there are opportunities for it to replicate in a rapid fashion, variants will continue to come up.” Link

“…it sounds like they may not have this specific version of a vaccine maybe until after March. A lot of it depends on having an ability to test and make sure that they can perform these trials to make sure they can confirm safety and efficacy. So that is a big concern.” Link


Dr, Seth Barkley

GAVI CEO; Founder and former President and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI) Link


It’s likely there will be a new variant every 4-5 months and natural immunity from one variant doesn’t necessarily protect against the next one. “We are still in the middle of a pandemic and we have a lot of scientific unknowns.” Link


Dr. Jacob Lemieux

Infectious Disease Specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Link


“What we don’t know and still have almost no information on is what impact new variants will have on case counts, on hospitalizations, on deaths.” Link


Dr. Richard Hatchett

M.D. Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Link


“It will continue to circulate, it will be around, people will get sick and there will be continual evolution of the virus.” Link


Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove

American Infectious Disease Epidemiologist; Technical Lead for the Health Emergencies Program at the World Health Organization. Link


“Omicron will not be the last variant you will hear us talking about. The next variant of concern will be more fit, and what we mean by that is it will be more transmissible because it will have to overtake what is currently circulating. The big question is whether or not future variants will be more or less severe.” Link


Mike Ryan

Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.  Link 


“We won’t end the virus this year,” he said. “We may never end the virus. Pandemic viruses end up becoming part of the ecosystem. What we can end is the public health emergency.” Link

“Endemic does not mean good,” he said, citing the examples of endemic malaria or endemic HIV which kill 100,000s of people. “Endemic just means it’s here forever.” Link


Özlem Türeci

Co-founder at BioNTech. Chief Medical Officer at BioNTech. Developed the first messenger RNA-based vaccine approved for use against COVID-19. Link


Özlem Türeci said Covid booster shots will be “necessary” because “it is the nature of immune responses that … they spike and stay for a time, but with time immune responses wane. We see this in the induced and the natural immune response against [Covid], we see this waning of immune responses.” Link


Aimee Bernard

Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology & Microbiology, University of Colorado Anschutz School of Medicine; Assistant Director, Human Immunology & Immunotherapy Initiative. Link


“As long as we have unvaccinated people in this country—and across the globe—there is the potential for new and possibly more concerning viral variants to arise,” Link


Gregory Glenn

President of Research and Development at Novavax.Link


“Everyone will need to be boosted. This is a viral respiratory disease, and we know from the flu that immunity from an infection is good for maybe 12 months, maybe 18 months, and after that people become susceptible again. After that, we’re going to have to boost.” Link


Ramon Lorenzo Redondo

Genomic Analyst at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Link


“The term variant is misleading, in that it creates the idea that all the other viruses are the same. Viruses operate as a cloud of mutants—a swarm of mutants.” Link


Survey of 77 Health Experts


In a survey of 77 epidemiologists from 28 countries in March, 2021, two-thirds said that within a year, Covid will mutate enough to make most vaccines ineffective. 18.2% think it may take longer. Since then, variants have gotten much worse, including a few that show some resistance to vaccines. According to the epidemiologists, we are probably soon due for a variant that makes vaccines ineffective. Link


Mark Denison

Coronavirus Expert of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology. Link


“If you think from the virus’s perspective of 100 million people, billions of cells, the virus is replicating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, leaving one cell and moving to another – the numbers game for the virus becomes trivial. The opportunities are astronomical. When we get to a billion of anything, anything can happen.” Link


Stephane Bancel

Chief Executive Officer at Moderna. Link


“One thing to think about is natural immunity. When you get infected, you make antibodies or [when] you get vaccinated and make antibodies, over time the level of antibodies going to go down, that is normal and natural. Over time boosts are going to be required, it is too early to know how frequently because we don’t have enough data.” Link


Dr. Mark Siedner

Infectious Disease Clinician. Researcher in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital. Link


Dr. Siedner said his health system is “anxiously awaiting” more doses of the effective treatment. “We’re in a holding pattern and it’s a terrible time to be in that place.”. Link


William Hanage

Associate Professor of Epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Link


“It’s entirely possible that a few years from now, people who are immunized might have a bit of snuffle and it’s actually SARS-CoV-2 but they never know it.” Link


Dr. Tom Frieden

CEO of Resolve To Save Lives. Former CDC Director. Link


“The more infectious a microbe is, the harder it is to control,” Dr. Tom Frieden said. “COVID is very challenging to control, and the new variants suggest that we may end up playing kind of a game of cat and mouse.” Link


Dr. Jonathan Abraham

MD, PhD. Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School. Link


“This virus is a shape-shifter,” Abraham said. “The great structural flexibility we saw in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein suggests that omicron is not likely to be the end of the story for this virus.” Link


Dr. Louis Mansky

Professor and Director of Institute for Molecular Virology. Professor at the Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences. Link


With so many unvaccinated people, he said, “the virus is still kind of in control of what’s going on.” Link


Dr. Corey Casper

Chief Executive Officer, Infectious Disease Research Institute. Clinical Professor, Medicine – Allergy and Infectious Dis. Link


“We are one mutation away from having a variant of concern that renders our current vaccines insufficient to protect us.” Link


Dr. Larry Corey

Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine & Pathology. Member, Division of Vaccine & Infectious Disease (VIDD), Clinical Research, & Public Health Sciences. Link


“The viruses we’re going to encounter today and what we will encounter in the next several months are not the same viruses that we tested the vaccines on and upon which the single-dose [strategy] data are based; they are going to be more formidable adversaries.” Link


Leonardo Martinez

Infectious Disease Epidemiologist at Boston University. Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Boston University. Link


“The faster omicron spreads, the more opportunities there are for mutation, potentially leading to more variants.” Link


CBS News


CBS News explains: “public health experts say… COVID-19 is never going to end. …researchers say there’s simply no track record of infectious diseases being completely eradicated, and everything about COVID-19 shows that it will be no different… Scientists say all of this makes the virus essentially impossible to control.” Link