When will the COVID pandemic be over? Houston doctor gives updated outlook

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It was March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

Nearly a year and a half later, many of us are wondering when it'll all be over.

Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the UTHealth School of Public Health, answered our COVID outlook questions on Friday.

Here's what we've learned.

When will the COVID pandemic be over?

"It depresses me to say this, but I would think another year," said Troisi. "Another year at least."

She said the duration of the pandemic depends on the virus itself.

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It also depends on if different variants continue to develop and our behavior, which includes vaccinations and the use of masks.
What should we expect from COVID in the next few months?

"The thoughts in the spring, as the number of cases went down, was that we could get a handle on transmission in the summer, but in the fall, we were going to see an increase," said Troisi. "Instead, we saw a lot of cases in the summer. So now, we're starting school with a lot of community transmission. I think we are going to keep seeing this throughout at least December."

Is the delta surge beginning to slow down?

"There was some thought that, because of what was seen in India and in the U.K., that we would peak and then go down," said Troisi. "Now, in the Houston area, we perhaps are seeing a plateau in hospital admissions, but we're plateauing really, really high. It's not like the peak is going down, at least for hospital admissions. It may not be increasing but again, with school starting, we've seen a lot of spread in the schools already. I would predict that, unfortunately, that is going to continue."

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How does a pandemic end?

"One of the ways pandemics end is society just decides it's not a pandemic anymore," said Troisi. "We are willing to accept a certain number of cases and hospitalizations and deaths in order to go about our pre-pandemic lives. If you were to ask me what scenario I thought would happen, I would guess that is the one, because we are already seeing it. We are at very high case transmissions again, our health care systems are overwhelmed in certain parts of the country, but we're pretending the pandemic isn't happening."
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