Some Oklahoma healthcare professionals predict the COVID-19 pandemic could eventually turn into an endemic.
That means a disease that’s more common in a specific population. Health experts explained it this way: an epidemic is a disease that easily spreads in a certain area. A pandemic has a "passport", so it spreads across the world. But an endemic is a disease that is consistent with a specific population or location.
Dr. Mary Clarke is the President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association and family medicine specialist in Stillwater. She says when COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, it was an epidemic. Then, the disease traveled becoming a pandemic.
So now she says doctors expect COVID-19 will eventually become endemic. That means it wouldn't necessarily go away but would stick around on a regular basis in particular areas.
For example, Dr. Clarke says malaria is endemic to Africa mainly in rainy seasons, meaning it's prevalent in that place during that time of year.
"We're really talking about the fact that we're not going to eradicate something. We're going to be able to tamp it down for whatever measures that we might have for a time and at some point, that will bounce back up and have another little surge again,” Dr. Clarke said.
Dr. Clarke says medical science is hindsight. So as time goes on, health experts will use trends and patterns for future recommendations, including vaccines and booster shots.