It has been a rough couple of years, but the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel is already upon us according to Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth.
Although a spike in infections across Australia is causing some concerns, the former health chief is predicting case numbers will peak by the end of summer and then we will be over the worst of what the disease has to offer.
Coatsworth told 2GB radio this morning that he believes the virus will become endemic in 2022.
“The pandemic will come to an end in 2022 because the virus will become endemic, and that means that Covid will circulate in the community,” he said.
“It’s circulating already in the eastern states so, to an extent, we’re already there.
“It’s not a very convenient time to be having very high case numbers but there never was a convenient time.”
He said his healthcare colleagues were “exhausted” after two years of the pandemic, and they are having to brace for an increase in patients and the prospect of catching the virus themselves.
However, he said that with a highly-vaccinated population and a milder variant, the impact on the health system is going to be far lower than that of previous strains, if they had been allowed to circulate in Australia.
He said that he suspects ICU “will no longer be a bottleneck” – which was a very important step because you can’t “magic up ICU beds”.
Coatsworth said this meant that hospitals had more levers they could pull to deal with any increase in patients.
Another key point he made was that evidence suggested the amount of time people were spending in hospital was halved with the Omicron variant, meaning the capacity of hospitals had effectively doubled.
He added that immunocompromised people who are at risk of catching Covid, were also at risk of other illnesses like the flu or common cold – so the end of the pandemic should signal to Australians to be “mindful” of the vulnerable.
“So if we do have a cold, we don’t go out,” he said. “We are wearing masks when we’re asked to. We can operate under limited restrictions by the government because as a community we now understand better what we need to do.
“We get a rapid antigen test if we’re feeling unwell, we stay away from indoor spaces and so on. The public is well versed in this and I think we can do it.”
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