Health Leaders: “Pandemic phase” of COVID could be ending by end of the year

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, believes the pandemic phase of COVID-19 could be over soon, but only when vaccines become available for all children and if an antiviral pill is approved.

In a sit-down interview Wednesday, Gottlieb said he expects to see a change in the course of the Delta wave, specifically around Thanksgiving.

He said the pandemic phase of the virus could be ending and we will soon be entering the endemic phase but that all depends on two things: a vaccine for kids and if Merk’s antiviral pill is approved and available.

Wichita Falls-Wichita County’s Assistant Director of Public Health, Amy Fagan, said trends in Wichita County align with that opinion.

“Dr. Scott Gottlieb has been a good source of information for me and I know for lots of people in this nation,” Fagan said.

“I think the thing that he says is that it’s a combination of vaccinated individuals and those with natural immunity and those two things go together,” Fagan said.

She said health leaders are encouraged to get vaccinated as more and more people are and that it’s going to take some work to transition into an endemic phase.

“Our job is to learn to live with these viruses and defend ourselves as best we can in hopes that it will become a natural endemic like the flu and that we can continue to fight against it and keep those numbers as low as we can to try to protect our community,” Fagan said.

MSU’s Medical Director, Dr. Keith Williamson said people should not take this as a sign to not get vaccinated because the virus will still be out there.

“This is going to be the last surge but it’s not going away, we are stuck with it for eternity, it will go down to a baseline level and stay there and probably increase some through the winter months,” Williamson said.

Williamson and Fagan said more residents are getting vaccinated though and this is encouraging.

As of Tuesday, a little more than 40% of Wichita County residents are fully vaccinated and nearly 46% have received at least one dose.

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