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Nearly two years after it began, the COVID-19 pandemic still finds new ways to surprise us. From the development of effective vaccines to surges caused by new variants, the virus's timeline has seen the overall outlook change back and forth from desperate to hopeful as we combat each new obstacle. Fortunately, some experts predict that the current Omicron surge could already be reaching its peak in the U.S. and other parts of the world. But according to chief White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, there's one thing that is still needed to end the pandemic once and for all finally. Read on to see what he believes will help us control COVID.
Fauci says a vaccine that works against all variants is needed to end the pandemic.
While appearing on a remote panel at the World Economic Forum's Davos Agenda on Jan. 17, Fauci discussed what the next phase of the pandemic might look like as Omicron begins to wane. He argued that the ability of COVID-19 to mutate as efficiently as it has shows that both herd immunity and variant-specific vaccines were not viable long-term options for controlling the virus, arguing that a broader vaccine that can stay efficient against multiple variants was the only way to truly bring about an end to the pandemic.
"We don't want to get into a whack-a-mole for every variant, where you have to make a booster against a particular variant. You'll be chasing it forever," Fauci said. "That's the reason why what we're all pushing for is finding out what the mechanisms are that induces a response to a commonality among all the real and potential variants we're seeing and that can occur."
He argued the pandemic was lingering due to resistance to effective protective measures.
While he still predicts improved vaccines could be crucial to keeping COVID-19 at bay, Fauci still remorsefully clarified that the pandemic may have dragged on longer than necessary by refusing to follow guidelines proven to be successful at stopping the virus.
"We have such a degree of push-back against regular, normal, easy-to-understand public health measures," he said. "A reluctance to wear masks, to promote vaccination, to the kinds of measures we know if we all pull together as a society, we'd be much, much better off."
The CEO of Moderna announced that an Omicron-specific vaccine would likely soon be available.
Coincidentally, Fauci's comments on the need for a broader COVID-19 vaccine were immediately met with the news that an Omicron-specific vaccine booster could soon be available anyway. Previously, pharmac.
"It should be in the clinic in the coming weeks," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said while speaking on the same discussion panel. "And we're hoping in the March time frame we should be able to have data to share with regulators to figure out the next step forward," he said.
Fauci holds hope that society will have learned from the pandemic and become better for it.
Even as we move past the pandemic, experts on the panel predicted that it would be nearly impossible to remove the virus from public circulation altogether. In some cases, this could cause issues down the line.
"Omicron has moved very, very rapidly, behaving exactly like an acute pandemic, and the virus is going to retain that capability in the future, and that's something I think should be quite concerning to all of us," Richard Hatchett, the CEO of Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations, said during the panel.
But despite the virus's potential threats, Fauci said he hoped the coming years could be better thanks to the shared experiences of the pandemic. "It is very difficult to predict what the new normal would be like," he admitted. "I do not think the people would be walking around with masks on forever, but one new normal I would hope for is greater solidarity with each other. I also hope the new normal would include a strong memory about what a pandemic can do to us."