Washington: The current wave of Covid-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant, is going to be the end of Covid, but it may linger around as an endemic, a former US Food and Drug Administration chief has said.
"I think this Delta wave may be the last major wave of infection, assuming nothing unexpected happens, (such as getting) a variant that pierces the immunity offered by prior infection (and) by vaccination," Dr Scott Gottlieb was quoted as saying to CNN.
"So, assuming that doesn't happen, and I think it's unlikely, this will be the last major wave of infection, and this becomes a more persistent, endemic risk," he said.
But as the cases still may spike -- especially as colder weather approaches and kids go back to school, he said.
"I think we're still going to have a lot of cases this winter. ... It likes to spread in the cold weather."
He called for increasing vaccinations for current cases to decline in the US, as the country continues to be the worst-hit country with the world's highest number of cases and deaths at 42,667,412 and 684,286, respectively.
He pointed to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showing only 76.7 per cent of adults having received one vaccine dose.
"We really need to get to around 80 per cent to 85 per cent to have enough vaccination in the population that you start to see case rates decline and the velocity of spread start to slow," Gottlieb said.
Moreover, as no new variant emerges, Gottlieb predicted that Covid will become an endemic disease, meaning it is always present but transmitting at low rates. According to him, Covid-19 will be circulating at high rates in the winter and low rates in the summer, similar to the seasonal flu. However, coupled with the flu, it may turn fatal.
"This becomes a more persistent, endemic risk. So, you continue to have coronavirus spread, but not at the same rates we're seeing right now, and it settles into ... more of a seasonal pattern, and basically becomes a second flu, (but) probably more pathogenic than the flu," Gottlieb said.
"The challenge is that we already have a flu, and if we have Covid circulating alongside flu, the cumulative death and disease caused by those two pathogens is going to be too much for society to bear," he said.
He urged people to improve indoor air quality and filtration, make offices less densely populated, and wear masks at least voluntarily in public spaces.
"I think you're going to see masks become much more culturally acceptable and used in parts of the country," he said.