WHO official says there is 'end in sight' for pandemic, but 'difficult' few months lie ahead

'Living with COVID means being able to prepare for these surges and to react and really quickly when they occur,' Dr. David Nabarro told Sky News
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World Health Organization headquarters
World Health Organization headquarters
(FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty)

The World Health Organization's special envoy for COVID-19 said Monday that there is an "end in sight" for the global pandemic, but warned that the coming months will present a challenge.

Dr. David Nabarro told Sky News, "I'm afraid we are moving through the marathon, but there's no actual way to say that we're at the end – we can see the end in sight, but we're not there. And there's going to be some bumps before we get there."

Nabarro warned that there will be more variants of the illness after Omicron runs its course, and some health systems – especially those in less developed parts of the world – will likely continue to feel the stress of the ubiquitous virus.

"It's really clear that there's no scope for major restrictions in any country, particularly poor countries. People have just got to keep working and so there are some very tough choices for politicians right now," also said Nabarro, indicating that Omicron will continue spread rapidly. 

With the Omicron variant has widely been reported to be much more contagious than past COVID variants. But is also appear less severe by way of the symptoms those infected experience, which has experts now thinking seriously about the moment at which the virus will become endemic – meaning, something that is always circulating, but not of especially major concern. 

"The way this virus is behaving, and has behaved really since we first met it, is that it builds up and then surges quite dramatically, and then it comes down again, and then surges again about every three or four months," said the doctor.

"It’s difficult to use past behavior to predict the future. And I don’t like doing that too much, but I would agree that the pattern, I think, that is going to happen with this virus is continued surges, and living with COVID means being able to prepare for these surges and to react and really quickly when they occur."

Around the world, there have been more than 307 million cases of the virus, and close to 5.5 million reported deaths.