The end of COVID: How will we know?

There probably won't ever be an announcement about it, so will we ever know when the pandemic comes to an end?

The COVID-19 pandemic started with a bang in Michigan. Within hours of the first cases of the coronavirus being confirmed, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a state of emergency.

The end of the pandemic will likely be a lot quieter.

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Already, the signs are there: COVID restrictions have been lifted, people are traveling again, and infection rates are lower than they’ve been in over a year. But that doesn’t mean the pandemic is over and it may be a while before it is.

The problem is that there is no clear-cut criteria for determining the end of the pandemic. Part of the reason for that is the coronavirus mutates, making it difficult to eradicate altogether.

Those mutations may also be prolonging the pandemic. The Delta variant, which now makes up the majority of new cases in the U.S., is keeping the pandemic alive even as a majority of Americans have been vaccinated.

Experts predict the Delta variant – or variants like it – will lead to a resurgence of the pandemic in the fall and winter. With any luck vaccines will still be effective against emerging variants. If not, we could find ourselves in another race to get people vaccinated.

One likely scenario will have the pandemic ending for areas of high vaccination, while low-vaccination areas continue to fight ongoing outbreaks. Whether that leads to a formal announcement of the pandemic’s end remains to be seen.

You can read the full story on NPR.

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