Avera Medical Minute: Are we nearing the end of the COVID pandemic?

Are we nearing the end of the COVID pandemic?
Are we nearing the end of the COVID pandemic?(Source: MGN)
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The numbers of new COVID cases are continuing to dramatically drop in South Dakota.

But does that mean we are at the end of the pandemic?

In northern China, 37 million people have been in lockdown due to two COVID variants spreading in the area.

We were able to spend some time talking with Dr. Kevin Post with Avera Health and the first thing we asked was: do we need to be worried about what’s happening in China right now?

“Right now we’re following that closely. For us in this area right now this does not mean much beyond keeping an eye on it. What we are seeing there is a variant of OMICRON, B-A-2, which is similarly contagious to that came through here late last year into January of this year. Right now it appears to be as contagious as that but it does not appear to be leading to a lot of severe cases, hospitalizations, or deaths. So of course we’ve learned through the last two years to be humbled by this virus. We’re watching it very closely. Right now though we are cautiously optimistic that it will not lead to significant changes for our area.”, said Dr. Kevin Post.

We asked Dr. Post specifically about COVID fatigue. It’s two years in now and in that time there has been social distancing, working from home, vaccines, and boosters. Are we still in a pandemic? Is this close to being endemic and more manageable? Or do we know?

“It has been a long two years. It’s been very stressful for people. From a social standpoint. The effect it has had on politics and from a healthcare standpoint. I do believe though both within and outside of healthcare we are seeing definite fatigue. But also I think kind of hopefulness. Like a feeling that we are possibly moving forward through this so I do think we can be optimistic. That we’re moving into that. Because I think going back to what we were again would likely not be well received by the public and in some ways understandably so when you think of the economic impact of that as well.”, said Dr. Kevin Post.

So what does the immediate short-term future hold? Numbers are going in a good direction....down.

Does that mean the eventuality of COVID is that it essentially becomes seasonal? Where we get a break in the Summer months but then expect it to return in the winter months?

“Seasonally you do see viral cases spike typically late in the year. We have not been into this phase yet of course where we head into hopefully the Fall and Winter with a few cases. So most experts expect it will somewhat a trend of Influenza where you will see a spike in the Fall starting September-October continuing into early Spring. So I think time will tell how this virus mutates and how it behaves as we go into that. It will be an interesting dynamic this next Winter again trying to manage what we anticipate from Influenza and what may occur from Omicron variants or other variants of the Coronavirus.”, said Dr. Kevin Post.

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