The world has been in the throes of a pandemic for almost 3 years now, and it is far from being over. The toll today is great. However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world should expect other eventualities.
Indeed, the WHO is considering three different scenarios for the future of Covid-19 worldwide. From a new variant to a gradual decline of the disease, here are the three paths the epidemic may take in 2022.
Globally, the epidemic resurgence has been undeniable in recent weeks. This Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) shared its “updated strategic plan” for preparedness and response to Covid-19. This is the third since the beginning of the epidemic, more than two years ago.
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, hopes that this plan will be the last one, he said in a speech on March 30.
During this speech, the WHO detailed three scenarios for the future of the pandemic in 2022, from the most probable to the worst.
1. Case 1 against covid: the most probable
According to current data, “the most likely scenario is that the virus continues to evolve”. Not unexpectedly, WHO does not predict a total disappearance of Covid-19 and its variants but suggests that the defense strategy against them should be similar to the current management of the virus against influenza.
“The severity of illness caused by the virus will decrease over time as immunity increases in all populations through vaccination and infection,” the WHO website states.
Based on “periodic spikes in cases and deaths as immunity declines” control measures will certainly need to be strengthened on an ad hoc basis, especially for vulnerable populations. As with the influenza epidemic each year, covid vaccination campaigns could occur on a seasonal basis.
2. Case 2 against covid: the best case
The second scenario, the one so hoped for by the WHO, is the appearance of new, less serious variants. A bit like Omicron but even more benign, these new variants would be a welcome development for the epidemic. Ideally, they would be less severe. Current vaccines would no longer be needed, nor would the formulation of new ones.
3. Case 3 against covid: the worst case
Finally, the last scenario that WHO foresees would be the worst. While new, less dangerous variants may emerge, the reverse is also true, with the appearance of more worrisome variants. If Omicron and BA.2 are on the borderline between good and bad variants because they are less dangerous than the source, they are on the other hand much more contagious.
The emergence of a variant, more dangerous and at the same time more virulent, would be a reset of the epidemic counters and could relaunch a global downturn.
If the “interest” of the virus is to reproduce as much as possible, it must however avoid killing the host at the risk of disappearing and not finding the right balance for its survival, hence the low chances that the world is heading towards this scenario.
If this were the case, “current vaccines will need to be significantly modified and ensure that they reach the most vulnerable people first,” WHO expects.
4. WHO’s five tips for protecting ourselves from Covid
To put an end to the intense phase that is currently hitting Europe and Asia, the head of the WHO mentions five essential components in which countries must invest this year.
The first is ” monitoring, laboratories, and public health intelligence. Then comes “vaccination, public health, social measures, and engaged communities,” followed by “continued clinical care for Covid-19 and the pursuit of resilient health systems,” and finally “equitable access to tools” and “coordination” of states to shift from emergency to long-term management of the respiratory disease.
“Striving to vaccinate 70% of the population of each country remains essential to control the pandemic, with priority given to health workers, the elderly, and other at-risk groups,” the UN organization concluded.