Endemic: What the term means and why covid-19 is far from getting there yet

The term “endemic” usually means that an infection is stable, not that it’s less deadly or that protective measures are no longer required. With the omicron variant surging, covid-19 is unlikely to become endemic soon


| Analysis

13 January 2022

Commuters, some wearing face masks, on a London underground train

Commuters in London this month

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

The term “endemic” is increasingly being used by politicians. But the term has no single agreed definition and doesn’t mean that it’s safe to stop restrictions, such as wearing masks and limiting social gatherings.

On Tuesday, Marco Cavaleri of the European Medicines Agency told a press briefing that “what we’re seeing is that we are moving towards the virus being more endemic”. The previous day, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said European officials should reclassify covid-19 as an endemic illness due to falling covid-19 …