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I'm a Doctor and Here's When the COVID Pandemic Will End

The answer depends on vaccinations.

So, the big question on all inquiring minds today is when will the COVID-19 pandemic end? Let's face it, we all have been impacted in some way by this pandemic and although we have made huge strides in the war against COVID, we are still dealing with outbreaks both nationally and internationally, hospitalizations, deaths, and catastrophic economic, social and political repercussions from this pandemic. So when will it end? Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

We are Living the Movie Contagion

As I am asked this question by patients and their families on a daily basis, I can't help but to think of the movie Contagion that was created 10 years prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic which—although seen as make-believe Hollywood movie—actually portrayed many similarities to our current day situation (this not a paid advertisement but check out various media outlets i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc, to name a few if you have never seen the movie). Without giving away details of the plot, the movie depicts the onset of a pandemic by the spread of a novel virus that was extremely infectious and deadly that catapulted scientists to race against time in the pursuit of making a vaccine that would protect people and ultimately end the deadly destruction caused by this pathogen.

Fast forward to today. We as a country and a world are faced with the task of bringing an end to this nasty little virus/pandemic but predicting when this will occur is not straightforward. According to expert epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists, it will take more than 90% of the population to become immune either naturally or by the use of vaccines before we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

According to the CDC, the most recent data tracker indicates that 65.3% of the total population has been fully vaccinated. That number includes 76.4% of individuals greater than 12 yrs old, 78.2% of individuals greater than or equal to 18, and 95% of individuals greater than 65. If our entire population consisted of only individuals greater than 65, we could say that the pandemic has most likely come to an end but that is not the case. 

RELATED: Dr. Fauci Just Said When to Expect Next Surge

What We Need to Do Until It's Over

However long it will take us to get to that 90% mark will determine roughly when the pandemic will cease and transition to becoming endemic, similar to its other family members that provoke the common cold. The good news is that vaccinations for children between 5 – 11 will be rolling out soon and medications in the form of tablets to treat the actual COVID infection will be available in the near future. Until then, we need to continue to be vigilant soldiers marching in concert in the fight against COVID. 

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Honnie Spencer, MD
Dr. Honnie Spencer is a board-certified Family Physician and former attending and Affiliate Professor with CFM residency program/University of NC Chapel Hill. Read more about Honnie