DENVER (KDVR) — An end to the current COVID wave is in sight, if not the end of the pandemic entirely.
The Colorado School of Public Health released a new modeling report that broadly predicts an end to the current phase of the COVID pandemic by March and likely leading into summer. Omicron will have infected enough Coloradans by that point that immunity will be widespread, hospitalizations will drop and the state’s people will get a breather.
“In summary, for the short-term extending to the end of March, we anticipate a continued decline of the
Omicron wave,” reads the report. “Absent another variant that is highly transmissible and not well covered by the current profile of immunity, the lull in the pandemic could reach into the summer.”
Cases and hospitalizations have gotten as high as they will, the model predicts. This tracks with high but steadily declining COVID numbers. In a month, the number of infected will drop by 400%.
“We estimate infection prevalence will be below 1% by the end of February.”
As more and more people become infected, more will become immune through either vaccination or natural immunity derived from prior infection. Health officials estimate 75% of Coloradans are immune to omicron currently, which will increase to 80% by mid-February.
This should give the embattled healthcare industry a break. More immunity will eventually press down the number of COVID-positive patients in hospitals.
“We anticipate that COVID-19 hospitalization counts will decline over the month of February but
there is uncertainty regarding the rate of decline,” the report reads.
The model offers four different rates of hospitalization decline. In all cases, the number of COVID positive patients in hospitals will drop as low as the lowest levels we saw in 2021 by spring. Even at the slowest rate of decline, one which has hospitalizations tick slightly up at the beginning of February, predicts around 250 hospitalized patients in March.
Researchers say the downtick in COVID cases will last into the summer. Omicron infections bolster natural immunity against other strains including delta, so the pandemic could be in the doldrums unless another strain pops up to spread another epidemic-level outbreak.
“This picture of a high rate of population immunity has led to suggestions that the COVID-19 pandemic
could be ending and that an era is beginning in which COVID-19 is endemic, causing outbreaks but not
society-disrupting epidemic waves,” the report concludes. “We agree that a lull lies ahead with the
Omicron variant in Colorado but are quite uncertain as to how long it will last.”