Uh-oh, now they’re trying to redefine the word ‘endemic’ in a way that moves the end of the emergency even further away.
Paul Nuki, of the Telegraph‘s Gates-funded Global Health Security team, has written a piece pushing this agenda (though to be fair to Bill Gates himself, last week he said Covid is now becoming like flu, an endemic disease). Here are some excerpts, with my comments interpolated in boldface.
Christina Pagel, a Professor of Operational Research at University College London, notes that “a virus isn’t endemic just because a Government minister says it is and just because people want it to be”. [Note that Prof. Pagel is a mathematician with no medical training.]
“The current pattern of waning vaccination, new immune evasive variants, and minimal public health response seem set to doom us to massive surges once or twice a year”, she tweeted last week. [A seasonal respiratory virus then.]
Dr Helen Salisbury, a senior GP and Oxford academic, added that people may regret talking about Covid becoming endemic as a good thing. “TB and smallpox were once endemic in the UK – it doesn’t mean mild, it just means widespread”, she warned. [But Covid, and particularly Omicron, is mild.]
So what does it really mean for a disease to become endemic and where do we stand as regards SARS-CoV-2?
Francois Balloux, a professor of computational biology at University College London, was one of the first to talk about Covid becoming an endemic disease and says, “in retrospect, we epidemiologists should have come up with a tighter definition”.
He says the common dictionary definition of the word – a disease regularly found among people in a particular area – is misleading. For epidemiologists, the term is more technical and relates to a virus’s reproduction value settling at around one.