As Omicron Takes Hold and Other New Variants Arise, COVID-19 Testing Remains the Universally Agreed Tool to Effect Transition From Pandemic to Endemic State.
Miller MB., Ooi EE., Rhoads DD., Kulldorff M., Anderson DE., Lee H., Gupta S., Mel K.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 448 million cases and 6 million deaths worldwide to date. Omicron is now the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant, making up more than 90% of cases in countries reporting sequencing data. As the pandemic continues into its third year, continued testing is a strategic and necessary tool for transitioning to an endemic state of COVID-19. Here, we address three critical topics pertaining to the transition from pandemic to endemic: defining the endemic state for COVID-19, highlighting the role of SARS-CoV-2 testing as endemicity is approached, and recommending parameters for SARS-CoV-2 testing once endemicity is reached. We argue for an approach that capitalizes on the current public health momentum to increase capacity for PCR-based testing and whole genome sequencing to monitor emerging infectious diseases. Strategic development and utilization of testing, including viral panels in addition to vaccination, can keep SARS-CoV-2 in a manageable endemic state and build a framework of preparedness for the next pandemic.