Infectious disease experts discuss new phase of COVID-19

For all intents and purposes, the pandemic is over, but experts on infectious diseases are saying COVID isn't going away.
Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 10:34 PM EDT
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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) - For all intents and purposes, the pandemic is over, but experts on infectious diseases are saying COVID isn’t going away.

However, experts also are saying COVID is also no longer a severe health threat.

Related: Some mid-Michigan hospitals easing mask mandates

“COVID is more becoming a seasonal virus right now and not anything as it was before, a really scary virus,” CMU infectious disease expert Dr. Nicholas Haddad said.

The virus hospitalized thousands of people in its early phases. Now doctors are saying the worst is behind us.

“The number of new infections is very low,” Haddad said.

Haddad said he attributes this to a number of reasons, including vaccine-induced immunity and natural immunity from exposure.

Flint physician Dr. Bobby Mukkamala said he agrees, calling COVID the modern-day flu.

“COVID is more like the flu in that it will knock us down and we shouldn’t be going to work and things like that when we have the flu, and the same thing with COVID. So, if we were to relate it to something that we’re used to, I would say more like the flu, and also because it’s likely to mutate and likely to have seasonal and annual variations more like the flu,” Mukkamala said.

However, Mukkamala pointed out COVID still can prove dangerous for vulnerable patients.

“Those are people that it’s still very much a real potential, dangerous, something that might cause hospitalization and something that could lead to death,” Mukkamala said. “So, it’s very real for a lot of people still, just not something that the average person has to worry about like they did before.”

Though we have emerged from the pandemic, Haddad said it’s important not to forget all the lives claimed by COVID-19.

“It is sobering to remember the numbers of infections and deaths in the United States. There have been 1.5 million cases and a total of 1.128 million deaths,” Haddad said.

COVID no longer being a severe threat is good news for hospitals, which continue to struggle to fill positions. About 100,000 registered nurses in the U.S. left the field due to the stress and burnout brought on by the pandemic.

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