RIGA - Much of the trouble caused by Covid-19 could end in late spring, but then it will be necessary to assess whether the virus is seasonal and how vaccines can be adapted to different variants of the virus, Dace Zavadska, chairperson the State Council of Immunization and the head of the Family Vaccination Center at the Children's Clinical University Hospital, told the magazine Sestdiena in an interview.
She thinks new variants of Covid-19 are expected in the future, and by the end of April, almost everyone will have recovered from the virus, both the vaccinated and non-vaccinated. However, this does not automatically mean that vaccines are not very effective. "I don't want to say that vaccines are not good. They are good, they saved the world in some way. But they have to be improved," the professor said.
Asked whether the situation regarding the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022 will be better than in the past, Zavadska reminds that "what we say today about Covid may change in a few weeks or a month," so it is better to talk about what we know now, rather than assuming what will happen in the future.
"From what we already know about the omicron, it is clear that it will spread. By the end of January, the omicron variant is expected to be the dominant variant in Europe. We do not know today whether this variant will replace the delta variant or whether the two variants will continue to exist with one another. In those countries where omicron is more prevalent, in Scandinavia and in the United Kingdom, hospitalizations are 50-70 percent lower than with the delta variant. On the one hand, this is good. Everyone will get infected, and vaccinated people will also become infected," said the doctor.
Asked to assess the easing of certain restrictions imposed due to the pandemic before the New Year, she is concerned that the consequences could have a negative impact on the healthcare system. "I hope those who made this decision will anticipate what the situation may be like in hospitals at the end of January. The responsibility of doctors and the entire health care system will remain, but I don't think everyone will be able to endure the physical and emotional strain of a similar situation that we had in the autumn," she said.
Regarding booster vaccination and the omicron variant, Zavadska admits that the beneficiaries will be those who received the so-called third dose of the vaccine later, as its effect against omicron works for no more than ten weeks. However, the best protected people are those who have been both vaccinated and have contracted Covid-19. This does not mean that vaccinated people should consciously try to get infected to improve their immune response, because the risks outweigh the potential benefits - vaccinated Covid-19 patients also die, she reminds.
The head of the State Council of immunization believes that the Covid-19 situation will change in the late spring. ''I believe we will end this party by the late spring, and the summer should be considerably better. And then, if we still need vaccines, we will have to adapt them - manufacturers have said they can achieve this. I do not think that everyone will need a booster vaccination. It will be more necessary for people over 65 and people with other chronic illnesses,'' she said.
In the future, Covid-19 is likely to become a seasonal virus, which will "pause for a while, maybe get more serious at one point, someone might need hospitalization, but vaccines will be available to everyone, and this will most likely be financed by the state," the expert said. .
Asked how long the public may have to wear face masks, Zavadska hopes that this requirement could be lifted in the spring.