SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — There’s growing talk in the medical community that the COVID-19 pandemic may soon be entering the “endemic” phase.
“What an endemic phase of a viral infections means is that it’s not causing the terrible hospitalizations of the pandemic phase but that we’ll have enough immunity of a population so it’s kept down to low levels,” Dr. Monica Gandhi said.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration is predicting that will happen in a month.
“We will likely not be masking, distancing, contact tracing, doing asymptomatic testing,” Gandhi said.
An optimistic view of what Gandhi, a UCSF Infectious Disease doctor, is describing as the “endemic.”
“We’ll manage it more like influenza which is vaccines, treatment and recommending masks for the vulnerable inside,” Dr. Gandhi said.
Gandhi says the highly transmissible omicron variant can drive the pandemic into endemicity.
“There’s incredible number of cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated. what that does is it exposes you to the entire virus and you develop antibodies, t-cells and b-cells across the entire virus,” Dr. Gandhi said.
“This is a challenging period,” Newsom said. “We’re going to get through this. just a few more weeks.”
At a press conference last week, Governor Newsom announced the end is near.
“That is preparing for not the pandemic phase of this reality but the endemic phase of this reality and how we live with future variants,” Newsom said.
Infectious disease doctors are monitoring the omicron surge around the world. Data from samples of wastewater indicates omicron is declining.
“In Boston, the wastewater is showing 40 percent decrease in COVID, we have all turned a corner in California with wastewater COVID amounts which means the amount of COVID is going down that will be reflected in our cases going down,” Gandhi said. “That will be reflected in our cases going down in a couple of days, usually, wastewater surveillance goes first then when it comes down it will come down quickly.”