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Virus Expert Just Predicted When Pandemic Will End

Read on for 5 ways to stay safe.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

When will the COVID pandemic end? That's the question on the top of everyone's mind—and one doctor just gave a proposed answer. Dr. Ashish Jha, the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, appeared on the Pulsar podcast to predict when the pandemic will end. Read on for five essential life-saving pieces of advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Virus Expert Had This to Say About When the Pandemic Will End

Woman throwing away her mask.

"The pandemic is going to end when we stop having it sort of dominate our lives the way it does right now," said Dr. Jha. "Now pandemics kind of fade away. They don't really end. The virus is going to still be with us. But it will no longer be much more than a nuisance. And obviously it's hard to predict exactly when I suspect for most of us in the United States, 2022, sometime next year, things really will begin to fade into the background, but it's always hard to paint kind of the exact point when a pandemic has come to an end." He said there may be no definitive end but keep reading to see when you'll know it's basically over.

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Virus Expert Said When This Happens, You'll Know the Pandemic is "Over"

people wearing medical mask for coronavirus covid 19 protection standing together beside office building and talking in city

"In some ways, if you think about it, the 1918 flu pandemic, that's so famous, that virus is still around," said Dr. Jha. "It just doesn't do much harm anymore. It'll be the same thing with this virus. It'll still be around. There's an old saying by a historian, which I love, which is, he said, 'Pandemics end with a whimper, not with a bang.' And that is the way to think about it. At some point, we'll wake up one morning and go, Wow, have you thought about the pandemic and weeks? And that's when it'll be over."

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Virus Expert Said This About Breakthrough Infections, and How Awesome the Vaccines Work

Young woman sitting alone on her sofa at home and coughing.

"So the Delta variant is a tough one," said Dr. Jha. "It really is the worst version of this virus that we have seen"—maybe, he hopes, "the worst version we'll ever see. We don't want to see anything worse than this. The big problem with the Delta variant is it generates very, very high levels of virus very quickly. And so when somebody who is infected with Delta shows up and breathers on you, or coughs on you, they give you a large viral load and that can overwhelm your antibodies. And that's why, and particularly if you've been vaccinated for a long period of time, the data from Israel says that there's a little waning of antibodies and then the Delta can kind of overwhelm it and cause a short term infection, a breakthrough. In fact, the good news is that those vaccines do more than give you antibodies. They also give … other parts of the immune system that then kick into high gear and say, wait a second. We don't want to deal with this" and they take care of the virus. And that's why most people who are fully vaccinated don't end up getting particularly sick. They have a few days of symptoms, fever, cough, sore throat, but then they turn around and they almost never ended up hospitalized. We're not seeing a lot of long-term complications from those breakthrough infections. And it gives me confidence that these vaccines are really every bit as good as we had hoped we would be."

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Virus Expert Said Here's the Good and Bad News

Scientists and microbiologists with PPE suit and face mask hold test tube and microscope in lab

"I feel very hopeful," said Dr. Jha. "And I'll tell you why I feel very hopeful. You know, last year in 2020, we basically were saying, Hey, hunker down, keep people safe, wait for the cavalry. And the cavalry was vaccines. And we said, let's hope we get good vaccines. And let's hope we can use them to really turn this pandemic around. Well, the bad news on some level is there's no cavalry coming. We've got the cavalry, it's here, but it's also actually really the good news. And it gives me hope, which is today we have all the tools we need and this pandemic and vaccines, obviously a huge part of it. We've talked about it. But in my mind, there are four things that really control this virus that we need to pay attention to. And we want to be doing some of the others as well." Read on for the 4 things.

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Virus Expert Said These Things Protect You and Could End the Pandemic

Female Doctor hands holding vaccine bottle and syringe.
  • "Vaccines" protect you. 
  • So does "widespread availability of cheap testing. Testing is a great way of catching people early in their infections and separating them so they don't spread." 
  • "Indoor masking. We will not need to be wearing masks forever, but in the short run, especially when there's a surge wearing masks, indoors makes a lot of sense."
  • "And then cleaning the air indoors. You know, one of the interesting things is almost all of these infections happen indoors when infected people spread it to others and you don't have good ventilation. We've got a real challenge on our hands. We've got to improve the filtration and ventilation of indoor spaces. We've got to clean the air. We do that. We get widespread testing. People wear masks in indoor spaces. People get vaccinated. The pandemic is over."

So get vaccinated, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek