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The omicron wave is subsiding, but health experts remain unsure of what could be next

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Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public

Health care experts disagree on what the future of the pandemic looks like, but there is a consensus that COVID-19 will not go away for good.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said in a news conference Thursday that he thinks a consensus is forming that this omicron surge could be the last major wave of the pandemic. That would leave omicron as the dominant COVID variant in the foreseeable future.

“I think as we go forward, this may become just another circulatory respiratory pathogen that we need to contend with,” Gottlieb said.

His comments came as COVID case numbers and hospitalization rates have begun to decline across Connecticut and the rest of the Northeast.

Gottlieb predicted the same thing about the delta variant before the latest omicron surge. He is on the board of directors at Pfizer Inc., which is developing an omicron-specific vaccine that he says will slow the spread of the variant.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief epidemiologist at Hartford HealthCare, described this prediction as the “best-case scenario.” He stressed in a Hartford HealthCare conference Friday that further variants are possible and that there’s no reliable way to predict whether they will be more or less contagious or have mild or severe symptoms.

And Dr. Syed Hussain of Trinity Health of New England also speculated in a Trinity conference Friday that new variants are possible. He argued that vaccination rates would need to be much higher worldwide to keep the virus from replicating.

“The virus will continue to replicate. If it can replicate, it will mutate. And there will be a time when a new variant pops up,” Hussain said.

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