Bill Gates thinks the 'acute phase' of COVID-19 pandemic will be over in 2022, despite the emergence of the Omicron variant

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  • Bill Gates said in his blog that he thinks the "acute phase" of the pandemic will come to an end in 2022.

  • He said the world is better prepared to tackle potentially bad variants than at any other point in the pandemic so far.

  • It comes as the Omicron variant, which he described as "concerning," spreads worldwide.

Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates said he is hopeful that the critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic will end in 2022.

"It might be foolish to make another prediction, but I think the acute phase of the pandemic will come to a close some time in 2022," Gates wrote in a review of the year, published on his GatesNotes blog Tuesday.

The billionaire said that the end of the pandemic isn't as close as he had hoped because of the Delta variant and struggles with getting people fully vaccinated.

And while "there's no question that the Omicron variant is concerning", he said, the speed of detecting new variants, combined with developments in vaccines and antiviral drugs, led him to be hopeful that COVID-19 would become an endemic disease in 2022.

"The world is better prepared to tackle potentially bad variants than at any other point in the pandemic so far," he said. "We're in a much better position to create updated vaccines if they're needed," he added.

His comments come as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, also known as B.1.1.529, is spreading across the world.

Scientists and pharmaceutical firms are racing to figure out how Omicron behaves, and how well vaccines will hold up against it. The variant is causing worry because of its large array of mutations.

Gates said a lot more information on the Omicron variant – such as how well existing vaccines or previous infection protect against it – will be available soon, as researchers, including those that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support, work to learn more about it.

In his review, Gates said that vaccines and antivirals could help reduce the lethality of COVID-19 in the future.

"Communities will still see occasional outbreaks, but new drugs will be available that could take care of most cases and hospitals will be able to handle the rest," he wrote.

"In a couple years, my hope is that the only time you will really have to think about the virus is when you get your joint COVID and flu vaccine every fall," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider