As we enter what is the third year of the pandemic, many of us are eager to know what role the pandemic will play in the brand new year. Although the past two years have given us more and more information regarding the COVID 19 pandemic, many questions still remain, while other new ones continue to arise. 

So overall, what certainties do we have regarding COVID 19 in 2022? How relevant does the coronavirus still look to be in the coming year? Overall, how much should we expect this virus to continue to impact our lives? 

After nearly two full years of living in a pandemic, filled with uncertainties and unexpected events, what can we expect in 2022?

So let’s take a look at the facts, what we know, and what to hopefully expect for the coming year. 

The Transition from Pandemic to Endemic

When the scientific community announced the emergency approvals of the three coronavirus vaccinations in late 2020, people across the globe celebrated. We’d believed that getting the vaccine out would bring a swift, joyful end to the pandemic. 

As more people sought out the vaccine, covid transmission rates and covid-related deaths quickly went into a decline. However, as vaccines slowed with some refusing to take the vaccine, rates rose again. When summer hit, the delta variant emerged, wreaking more havoc. It quickly became apparent to many that with variants taking precedence and slowing vaccinations plus the need for a booster, the pandemic was going to be more difficult to beat than initially thought. 

However, by the end of 2021, we started hearing more about endemics. Although endemics are long-lasting, it actually presents a considerable reason for hope as well as a reasonable expectation of what to expect in 2022 from the coronavirus. 

Pandemic is the term used to describe a virus spreading disease at an exponentially increasing rate, often unmanageable and running rampant. Cases increase daily and countries and populations across the globe are significantly impacted. An endemic, on the other hand, is when a disease is consistent, predictable, and manageable. The spread is understood and constant within geographic regions. 

Ultimately, the coronavirus becoming an endemic instead of a pandemic is a good thing. 

Scientists across the globe now fully expect COVID-19 to stick around rather than eliminate it any time soon. With global vaccination rates at only 59%, and the recent, highly-transmissive (yet seemingly less-deadly) Omicron variant running throughout the globe, a transition from pandemic to endemic is what we should be expecting next rather than the end of coronavirus. 

A majority of immunologists and experts predict that the virus will eventually become similar to the flu when it comes to our daily lives. We won’t ever fully be rid of it, but it will gradually become expected, controlled, routine, and manageable. They envision it occurring in small pockets within communities, with decreasing death rates as our bodies receive vaccines or antigens for natural immunity. 

Ultimately, this means we should be able to expect that the virus won’t ever fully go away but will be gradually weakened, controlled, and normalized as part of our seasonal viruses. We will go about our day-to-day, with pre-pandemic habits becoming largely normal again. 

Expect Some Unexpected in 2022

We know we will likely reach endemic status when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic. However, when that might remains unclear. We know now that reinfection is possible, even in individuals who have been vaccinated, although vaccination significantly decreases the likelihood of a severe or deadly infection. 

Although we don’t always hear about all of them, we can assumably expect more COVID variants to emerge in 2022, as they’ve done throughout 2021. As more individuals get boosters and as more countries increase their accessibility to vaccinations, the virus itself continues to cause less damage. 

We can expect to have more variants of unknown transmissibility and severity, but we can also expect the overall impact of the virus to continue to gradually weaken throughout the year. It seems more and more unlikely that the United States will reach herd immunity, with only around 62.5% of the population vaccinated and unknown numbers of asymptomatic individuals. 

Businesses have figured out ways to stay open, and full state-wide or city-wide shutdowns are unlikely, especially with over half the population immunized against the vaccine. Large events may still experience uncertainties or cancellations with general outbreaks or new variants and transmissibilities entering the scene throughout the year. 

However, it’s still a good time to hope for the best! Research shows that with the Omicron variant, far fewer numbers of people were hospitalized or fell seriously ill with the virus, especially compared to the much more deadly Delta variant. This trend could continue into 2022, with weakened viruses impacting our health care system less and less. 

Continued Staffing Shortages from the Pandemic

It’s also important to note that while this latest variant has so far proven far less deadly than the Delta variant, its impact was still significant. 2022 may still have some of these problems occur throughout the new year. 

In particular, with huge chunks of populations and communities facing increasing infections due to the Omicron variant, regardless of the severity of illness, some businesses were forced to decrease their capacity for service or were forced to shut down entirely until they had enough staff. Restaurant owners may not have enough staff to serve and must cut capacity. 

Restaurant staffing shortages due to Covid 19

Grocery stores have sick employees, which may lead to longer lines at checkout. Amazon drivers fall ill and need to call out of work, so shipping may be delayed. The possibilities are common and range widely across many industries. In particular, one challenge is within U.S. hospitals. 

Recently, nearly 24% of hospitals in the United States report having a critical staffing shortage as more employees are forced to remain home with coronavirus. Such an impact on the healthcare system has more of a snowball effect than we think. If a hospital is short-staffed, it may not have the capacity to treat regular, daily accidents and occurrences, regardless of whether it’s a COVID-related hospitalization. 

This same challenge is also possible within the education system. If too many teachers fall ill on one campus with Omicron, campuses may eventually be forced to close the campus if there aren’t enough substitutes to fill the teachers’ positions while they recover. 

Coronavirus- Relevant but Reduced! 

Overall, we should all have high hopes when it comes to this seemingly long pandemic. We’ve already seen huge strides toward normalizing daily life and returning to our regular activities and family gatherings without concern. 

Although we may never be rid of the virus entirely (and it seems unlikely), it should gradually transition to a less deadly, more manageable endemic instead. We should return to life as we once knew it, with people protected with vaccinations and immunizations. 

2022 should prove to be more normal than 2021 and 2020; however, new variants may still present outbreaks, staffing shortages, and shipping delays. As long as we keep patient, positive, and do our part, everyone will continue to see the pandemic weaken its grip on each of our lives. 

Be sure to set some new goals for yourself in 2022 because the future is looking bright! Make it even brighter for a friend or family member by gifting them a magazine subscription to add some positivity to the new year!