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Fauci: It's too soon to say whether Omicron will hasten pandemic's end

Experts are looking into COVID's crystal ball to predict where the Omicron variant will lead the U.S., but the picture is far from clear.

White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said Monday that it's "an open question" whether Omicron will be the last variant wave to majorly disrupt regular life, reports CNBC. Asked whether the highly transmissible variant could spread widely enough to hasten the end of the pandemic, Fauci said, "I would hope that that's the case. But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant."

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, meanwhile, predicted a "return to normal life" sometime in the spring, reports Fox Business, citing an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro. Bourla argues COVID-19 antiviral drugs in development could work alongside vaccines to prevent severe disease. Separately, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the company's combined COVID-19 and flu shot could roll out by fall 2023, per CNN.

Other experts, like London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine's Annelies Wilder-Smith, say it's "too early" to call COVID endemic, but predict "there is a high probability that we will have a new variant" before then, though it would likely be less severe.

Regardless of the murky post-Omicron pandemic, all agree that while still in the grips of the current variant, we should first focus on getting through our more immediate future. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned Sunday that this record-setting wave has not yet peaked, and declared "the next few weeks will be tough."