Assessing When the COVID-19 Pandemic Becomes an Endemic

Sachin Nagrani, MD, the medical director of Heal, discusses his predictions for the future as we continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pharmacy Times interviewed Sachin Nagrani, MD, the medical director of Heal, on Pfizer’s research assessing an Omicron-specific vaccine for adults aged 18 to 55 years.

Alana Hippensteele: What are your predictions for the future as we continue to fight this pandemic?

Sachin Nagrani: I would like to end on a note of positivity here and say that we had this spike with the Omicron variant—and it's still going very strong, I don't mean to say that it's in the rearview mirror—but it's also occurred at a very poor time in the wintertime, where people tend to cluster indoors, which we already know is the area in which we have increased transmissibility is more people indoors in close proximity to each other.

As we head into the warmer weather months for the Northern states, I think you can expect to see people doing things outdoors more, see numbers drop with people vaccinated, even with the original vaccine, you have prevention against serious illness, so we can see these numbers decrease.

I think that there's been a lot of conversation about when does the pandemic becomes an endemic. This virus is unlikely to leave entirely, and there will be a point at which it will be more of a background concern, but the numbers where they are today in terms of numbers of people who are ending up in the hospital and dying is still too high to believe that that's where we are.

So, what I expect to see and what I hope to see is that over time, hopefully we can—I'm hopeful—that there can be some removal of politics from the discussion around masking and vaccinations, and we have people gathering more information scientifically, more data creating more transparency around what the risks and benefits are around everything so that everyone can make the right decisions for themselves in terms of getting vaccinated, and that we have these numbers come down, and it becomes more of an endemic situation like the flu, which still is unfortunately causing tens of thousands of deaths in the United States every year, but it isn't something that stops society from working every winter.