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Experts weigh in on how much longer pandemic will last

Posted at 7:08 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-06 08:27:27-05

TULSA, Okla. — Some of Oklahoma's top medical experts are weighing-in on how long the pandemic could be a part of our everyday lives. As vaccinations become more available, some said COVID-19 may have a much longer-lasting impact.

For many of us, the vaccine represents the light at the end of the tunnel, meaning it could be the end of masks and social distancing. But now, some doctors are urging the public to have a new perspective on the timeline of the pandemic.

“Instead of it being hours, days, weeks, we’re talking months and years,” palliative specialist Dr. Jennifer Clark said.

In a virtual news conference Tuesday, Dr. Clark said the trajectory of the pandemic could continue through 2024, regardless of a vaccine.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” Clark said. “This is not a sprint. This is definitely a marathon and we’re still in the first herd of that race.”

Based on data collected by researchers at Yale University, we are in the immediate effects of the pandemic, at least until 2021. Researchers said that will be followed by what they call the "intermediate period." Dr. Clark said maintaining strict COVID-19 safety protocols now will dictate the trajectory of the pandemic this summer amid anticipated fourth and fifth waves of the virus.

“This is not the time to lift up at all," she said. "If anything, we need to increase significantly because the trajectory is depending on all of us working together."

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