“Certainly COVID will be with us forever,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health. “We’re never going to be able to eradicate or eliminate COVID, so we have to identify our goals.”

Pandemics do eventually end, even if omicron is complicating the question of when this one will. But it won’t be like flipping a light switch: The world will have to learn to coexist with a virus that’s not going away, reports AP.

The ultra-contagious omicron mutant is pushing cases to all-time highs and causing chaos as an exhausted world struggles, again, to stem the spread. But this time, we’re not starting from scratch.

Vaccines offer strong protection from serious illness, even if they don’t always prevent a mild infection. Omicron doesn’t appear to be as deadly as some earlier variants. And those who survive it will have some refreshed protection against other forms of the virus that still are circulating — and maybe the next mutant to emerge, too.

The newest variant is a warning about what will continue to happen “unless we really get serious about the endgame,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist at the Yale School of Public Health.

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