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Omicron: A reflection of what has typically happened with coronaviruses for decades

Dr. Michael Koren says the new variant is likely an early indication that we’re moving toward a manageable, long-term situation.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s 2022.  And yes, the COVID-19 pandemic is still a thing. In fact, we’ve seen another major surge in cases in recent weeks. 

So, are the coronavirus waves going to become part of our 'new normal'? 

The On Your Side team took that question to a local doctor, and finds out what will be some of the biggest COVID-19 debates this year. 

Will this pandemic ever end?

COVID-19 may have turned our world upside down.

However, coronaviruses have actually been around for decades. 

“Coronaviruses have typically caused relatively mild symptoms. And, COVID-19, SARS and MERS are the ones that deviated from the usual pattern of coronaviruses. And omicron is now moving back towards what coronaviruses is more typically causing in terms of symptoms and complications," Dr. Michael Koren of Jacksonville Center for Clinical Research CEO said.  "So far, the data on Omicron show that it is very highly contagious, but it also tends to be less severe, a cause of less severe illness than other forms of COVID-19."

Koren says it’s likely an early indication that we’re settling into a manageable, long-term situation. 

He says, over the past two years, medical experts have also greatly expanded their knowledge of viruses and have learned how treat COVID-19.

The latest coronavirus treatment breakthrough being prescription oral antiviral drugs that just hit the market this week.

The biggest COVID-19 debates of 2022 

The first debate, Dr. Koren says, will be how often people will need to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

He says some medical experts think it should be every four months.

“After the first four months, data is slowly coming in as we have more and more boosted people showing that you start to get some more breakthrough infections between four and six months. And, probably at around six months, the rate drops even further, but that's still a subject of debate," he said.

“In my opinion, [for the average healthy adults], you have absolutely nothing to worry about if you've been boosted within the last six months. And, you probably don't have a whole lot to worry about if you've been boosted within the last year. But, those recommendations will get refined over the course of the next few weeks and months," Koren added.

Koren is working with a publication group that will be releasing data in a major medical journal, sometime in the next couple of weeks, about the success and timeframe of boosters. 

He says booster shots for kids younger than 12 years old will be another, more controversial debate that continues this year.

However, Koren would like to see all eligible children get vaccinated first, before talking about boosters for everyone.

“We’re still not looking at great numbers in terms of nation rates for people who are between five and 18 years old. So, there's a lot of work to be done in that demographic," he explained.