Unanswered questions: From COVID-19 pandemic to endemicity

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Two years on, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic remains elusive.

More Questions Than Answers

It is time to reflect on vigilant efforts and fill crucial niches in answering some pressing questions:

  1. When is a pandemic officially over?
    • When does WHO lift the Covid PHEIC?
    • What’re the scientific metrics beyond social and political determinants?
    • What’re collective cognition of the public?
  2. Should China end zero-COVID policy?
    • Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have functionally declared an end to the pandemic in their countries.
    • Poland, Slovakia, Iceland, Switzerland have eased masking recommendations. And the U.S. CDC eased masking recommendations for some 70% of U.S. residents.
    • China and New Zealand are pursuing zero COVID-19 strategies.
  3. What’re the determinants from COVID-19 pandemic to endemicity?
    • Will Omicron end the pandemic?
    • A known winter burden of ill health (the average annual numbers of hospitalization and deaths from influenza and pneumonias) can be treated as a benchmark for COVID-19 endemicity?

References

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  • O. Dyer, Covid-19: Is New Zealand’s switch in policy a step forward or a retreat? BMJ, n2476 (2021).
  • D. C. Skegg, P. C. Hill, Defining covid-19 elimination. BMJ, n1794 (2021).
  • J.-L. Tang, K. Abbasi, What can the world learn from China’s response to covid-19? BMJ. 375, n2806 (2021).
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  • A. Silver, Covid-19: Why China is sticking to “zero tolerance” public health measures. BMJ. 375, n2759 (2021).
  • D. Normile, China quietly plans a pivot from ‘zero COVID.’ Science. 375, 949 (2022).
  • M. Wadman, When is a pandemic officially ‘over’? Science. 375, 1077–1078 (2022).
  • C. Ash, G. Alderton, P. Kelly, S. T. Scanlon, V. Vinson, B. Wible, A time to reflect. Science. 375, 1098–1099 (2022).
  • C. Pagel, “Back to normal” is not enough. Science. 375, 1069–1069 (2022).
  • C. J. L. Murray, COVID-19 will continue but the end of the pandemic is near. Lancet. 399, 417–419 (2022).
  • P. V. Markov, A. Katzourakis, N. I. Stilianakis, Antigenic evolution will lead to new SARS-CoV-2 variants with unpredictable severity. Nat. Rev. Microbiol. (2022), doi:10.1038/s41579-022-00722-z.
  • J.-M. Chen, Y.-Q. Chen, China can prepare to end its zero-COVID policy. Nat. Med. (2022), doi:10.1038/s41591-022-01794-3.
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About Sunney 109 Articles
I am currently a Professor of Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China.

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