Bill Gates Says Countries Will Report ‘Far Fewer’ Cases Of Covid-19 After Omicron Hits Peak – Forbes

Topline

Bill Gates predicted Tuesday that after the omicron wave of Covid-19 outbreaks dies down, countries will see fewer positive cases for the rest of the year, ultimately creating an environment where Covid could be treated like seasonal flu, the billionaire philanthropist said during a live Q&A session on Twitter.

Key Facts

A country should record “far fewer” cases of Covid-19 throughout the rest of the year after omicron “goes through” it, in which case Covid can be “treated more like seasonal flu,” he said.

Last month, Gates said the United States “could be entering the worst part” of the pandemic as Covid cases were surging across the country, and predicted the wave of infections to last three months.

Most scientists have predicted Covid-19 will eventually become an endemic, like flu, but the World Health Organization has said now is not the right time to start treating Covid-19 as if it were already endemic, citing “huge amount of uncertainty” and the quickly evolving nature of the virus. 

Gates said Tuesday that in order to end the pandemic, the world needs vaccines that protect people from reinfection and provide protection for many years as fully vaccinated Americans are reporting breakthrough cases.

A variant with higher transmissibility than omicron is “not likely” to emerge, he said without elaborating further.

Key Background

Last week, Rochelle Walensky, the director for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said previous delta infections do not prevent people from contracting the omicron variant. She went on to say that omicron infection could provide protection against testing positive for delta, citing lab studies. It was uncertain whether an omicron infection protects against another omicron infection, Walensky said. With single-day Covid infections in the U.S. hitting record highs, the number of hospitalizations on Monday shattered the previous record. Surging Covid cases has exhausted the healthcare industry, with a growing number of states reporting staffing shortages at hospitals. Airline carriers have reduced flight schedules to adjust to a smaller workforce from workers calling in sick after contracting Covid-19.

Big Number

57%. That’s the percentage of U.S. adults who responded they had practiced social distancing in the past week by staying home and avoiding others as much as possible, according to a new Axios/Ipsos poll. The percentage of American adults taking precautions by socially distancing themselves was the highest since April 2021.

Tangent

Touching on global vaccine equity, Gates said unlike last year when most vaccines went to wealthy countries, the world has “a lot of supply overall” and the “problems” are logistics, demand and health systems in developing countries.

Further Reading

WHO says omicron is life threatening for unvaccinated, elderly and people with underlying conditions (CNBC)

More Americans Are Social Distancing Than At Any Point Since Spring 2021, Poll Finds (Forbes)

U.S. Reports Record 1.48 Million New Covid Cases As Hospitalizations Near All Time High (Forbes)

WHO warns against treating Covid-19 like flu (Reuters) 

Bill Gates on Omicron: ‘We could be entering the worst part of the pandemic’ (CNN)

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