COVID-19 in 2023: Is the pandemic over?
Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team
- COVID-19 is still having a deadly impact and is responsible for over 6.86 million deaths worldwide.
- It’s unlikely that COVID-19 will end in 2023 as new variants continue to emerge.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially announced that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency.
- Until COVID-19 is clearly behind us, it’s essential to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions.
For the past 4 years, the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world as we know it. Even though much progress has been made in the fight against the disease since the virus first emerged in 2019 and was officially declared a public health emergency of international concern in 2020, the virus continues to have a deadly impact. As of May 2023, 6.86 million people have died after contracting the respiratory virus. Over 1.16 million of these deaths occurred in the United States. ref1
This article outlines where the pandemic stands in 2023 and what will need to happen for the pandemic to end.
Will COVID-19 end in 2023?
It is unlikely that COVID-19 will end in 2023. As a virus, COVID-19 can mutate and change over time. This means that even with vaccines, treatments, and other measures to control its spread, the virus may continue to exist in the population and cause occasional outbreaks or flare-ups. New virus variants continue emerging, and public health officials closely monitor them.
As of 1 May, there are around 400,000 new cases and over 2,000 deaths each week globally. 1 2 There are about 26 major variants of COVID-19 in circulation, most of them related to the Omicron variant. While Omicron does not cause more serious infections than past variants, it can hop more efficiently from one infected person to another.
As of 1 May, there are around 400,000 new cases and over 2,000 deaths each week globally. There are about 26 major variants of COVID-19 in circulation, most of them related to the Omicron variant. While it does not cause more serious infections than past variants, it can hop more efficiently from one infected person to another.
With the emergence of Omicron, almost all Americans have been infected at least once, and many have been infected multiple times. While this has led to a high level of immunity in the population, it hasn't been enough to reduce the spread of the virus consistently. To control and eventually eliminate the virus, each infected person needs to infect fewer than one other person.
When will the pandemic end?
COVID-19 is still considered a pandemic by the leading health governing agencies. The CDC defines a pandemic as “a disease event in which there are more cases of a disease than expected spread over several countries or continents, usually involving person-to-person transmission and affecting a large number of people.” 3 That means that the definition of a pandemic is only partially related to the severity of disease caused by a virus like SARS-CoV-2 or even the amount of immunity a population may have against it, thanks to now widely available vaccines.
The pandemic will end when COVID-19 shifts into its next phase - the endemic phase, meaning the virus is still with us but doesn’t spread out of control or put a strain on the healthcare system. An endemic virus is consistently present within a community. Still, it's distinct from a pandemic in that it's relatively contained and not causing an overwhelming strain on healthcare systems. This makes prevention and treatment more manageable. 4
The flu is an example of an endemic virus for which treatments and a yearly vaccine are available. However, occasional outbreaks can lead to epidemics and, in rare cases, a pandemic like the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic. COVID-19 may become a similar virus requiring ongoing monitoring and management.
What should we do until the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly behind us?
People may think the COVID-19 pandemic is over because they've resumed their pre-pandemic lifestyle, but this behavior shift doesn't necessarily mean the pandemic is actually over.
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions until the virus is clearly behind us.
- Stay informed about emerging variants. SARS-CoV-2 has already mutated into several different variants, some of which are more contagious and potentially more dangerous than the original strain. Staying current on the latest developments in the pandemic can help individuals make informed decisions about their health and safety.
- Take precautions. This includes following guidance from public health officials, such as wearing masks in crowded indoor spaces and maintaining social distancing when public officials deem it necessary.
- Receive your vaccine boosters. Vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death from the virus. Vaccination can also help reduce transmission rates, contributing to the control of the pandemic.
The message isn't to put COVID-19 behind us but to move forward armed with the lessons we've learned from our experience. By remaining cautious and taking precautions, individuals can help prevent the spread of the virus and protect themselves and others.
Wrapping it up
While COVID-19 may continue to exist in the population through occasional outbreaks and new variants, it will likely eventually shift into the endemic phase, where it's relatively contained and can be managed more effectively. Until then, individuals need to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. By doing so, we can continue to move forward and eventually overcome this unprecedented global health challenge.
Q: Will the pandemic end in 2023?
A: COVID-19's end in 2023 is unlikely due to its ability to mutate and persist. Currently, variants spreading in the global population are causing high infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Q: When will the pandemic end permanently?
A: The end of a pandemic is not always a clear-cut event. It may be more accurate to say that the pandemic will transition into an endemic phase, remaining present but under control, allowing for better prevention and treatment. This transition will require ongoing efforts to monitor and manage the virus, as well as widespread vaccination and other public health measures.
Q: How will COVID end?
A: We'll be able to tame the COVID-19 virus with vaccines, medications and better hygiene habits so that it’s no more harmful than the flu.