Omicron is the “first ray of light” that COVID could eventually become less severe, scientists have suggested.
“The thing that might happen in the future is you may see the emergence of a new variant that is less severe, and ultimately, in the long term, what happens is COVID becomes endemic and you have a less severe version,” Dr Mike Tildesley, University of Warwick professor of infectious disease modelling and member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group, told Times Radio.
“It’s very similar to the common cold that we’ve lived with for many years. We’re not quite there yet but possibly Omicron is the first ray of light there that suggests that may happen in the longer term. It is, of course, much more transmissible than Delta was, which is concerning, but much less severe.”
He added that as we move towards the spring “and we see the back of Omicron”, we can live with COVID more as an endemic disease.
“Any variant that does emerge which is less severe, ultimately, in the longer term, is where we want to be,” he said.
It comes as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation announced that a fourth Covid vaccine is not yet needed, with boosters providing sufficient protection against severe disease from Omicron in older people.
Latest data released by the UK Health Security Agency revealed that for over-65s protection against hospitalisation remains at about 90 per cent three months after the third jab.