MOSCOW: Even as the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly across the world, and outpacing the previous Delta strain, several Russian and Danish experts have said that the pandemic will end up as seasonal epidemics this year, media reports said.
According to epidemiologist and Russia's former chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko, the coronavirus pandemic may be over by May given the observance of all preventive measures and the vaccination drive, TASS news agency reported.
"It's a long time until May... If we do now what is needed, then by that time it should slow down already, at least, get under control," he said.
There are no grounds now for panic since vaccines have already been developed and it is necessary to focus on inoculation against the coronavirus infection, he added.
The Russian Academy of Sciences president Alexander Sergeyev also stated that the current Covid-19 pandemic will transform into seasonal epidemics starting from 2022, the report said.
"I expect that the Covid-19 pandemic will turn into seasonal epidemics, like flu. I should say that the current situation looks pretty much like the 1960s, when the Hong Kong flu epidemic had very serious effects, when many people were seriously ill.
"But vaccines and medicines were created in due time and we have been living with flu for 60 years now and got almost accustomed to it. What is happening to Covid today looks similar in some respects. A serious epidemic, fears, creation of vaccines and the development of medicines. If there are good, reliable medication protocols, we will begin to see this illness like ordinary flu," he said.
Sergeyev remarked that Russia's high mortality rates were the price that had to be paid for low vaccination rates, the report said.
"It is our flaw, for which the people, the scientists and the authorities are responsible as far as vaccination is concerned. An overwhelming majority of those who died from the virus had not been vaccinated. I believe that this is the price that has to be paid for low vaccination rates," he said.
Meanwhile, Tyra Grove Krause, the chief epidemiologist at Denmark's State Serum Institute said the Covid-19 Omicron variant is bringing about the end of the pandemic, and "we will have our normal lives back in two months", the Guardian reported.
Despite early fears that Omicron could prolong the pandemic due to its increased level of infection, Krause said it actually could spell the end of the pandemic.
"I think we will have that in the next two months, and then I hope the infection will start to subside and we get our normal lives back," she was quoted as saying.
A study led by the State Serum Institute showed that the risk of hospitalisation from Omicron is half that seen with the Delta variant.
"Omicron is here to stay, and it will provide some massive spread of infection in the coming month. When it's over, we're in a better place than we were before," the study showed.