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Experts urge caution over prospect of COVID-free future

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People wearing a mask are seen strolling through the illuminated streets of Tokyo during a christmas street event on December 21, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan, as Japan established new habits of life due to sanitary measures against the coronavirus pandemic, as to wear masks, refrain from talking loudly and sanitize their hands frequently using sanitizer stations set up in all public places. ( David MAREUIL - Anadolu Agency )
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Jan 18, 2022 - 08:17 AM

ANKARA (AA) – Prominent experts urged caution Monday over the prospect of a COVID-free future during an online panel hosted by the World Economic Forum.

On whether 2022 will witness the transformation of COVID-19 from a pandemic to an endemic, Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the US president, said it is still unknown.

Noting that humankind succeeded in eradicating only smallpox, he said that would never be the case with COVID-19.

Endemicity means a non-disruptive presence without elimination, Fauci said.

He also highlighted the importance of togetherness in the fight against COVID-19.

“If we all pull together as a society, we would be much, much better off,” he added.

Annelies Wilder-Smith, a senior expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Diseases, stressed that the omicron variant is not as lethal as the Delta variant.

While this is good and gives us hope, omicron will not be the last variant, she warned.

Also drawing attention to the high transmissibility rate of omicron, she reiterated that the world should be prepared for the worst-case scenario, which would be the emergence of a variant that would combine high transmissibility with high mortality.

Stephane Bancel, CEO of COVID vaccine maker Moderna, focused on the vaccines.

He maintained that the vaccines worked very well in curbing COVID-19 related fatalities, as proven by the latest omicron wave.

“We are now working to ramp up our production capacity further and on a booster that will be sufficient to receive annually,” said Bancel.

Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), argued that the world is getting closer to that equilibrium with COVID.

He nevertheless warned that it could turn into a pandemic anytime again.

The virus has this capacity, he added.

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