TUESDAY, Jan. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — It is too soon to determine whether omicron’s rapid spread will turn a pandemic virus into an endemic disease, America’s top infectious disease expert says.

That “would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response to the prior variant,” Anthony Fauci, M.D., said this week during the Davos Agenda, a virtual event being held by the World Economic Forum, CNN reported.

Because the omicron variant is highly transmissible but appears less likely to cause severe disease than previous variants, there are suggestions that it could result in COVID-19 transitioning from a pandemic to an endemic situation, CNN reported. “It is an open question as to whether or not omicron is going to be the live virus vaccination that everyone is hoping for because you have such a great deal of variability with new variants emerging,” Fauci said.

Facing critical staffing shortages, hospitals have treated more COVID-19 patients in recent weeks than ever. At least 156,676 COVID-19 patients in the United States were hospitalized on Monday, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, one in five Americans have been infected with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with just over 680,000 daily cases reported yesterday. An average of 1,695 Americans died from COVID-19 every day during the past week.

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