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For the first time since March 2020, Covid numbers have begun to ebb in several parts of the world, including India. Experts are hopeful that the pandemic will be over but, cautioned that Covid will be here to stay. And though newer and more dangerous strains could always come, at this point in time appropriate measures can be taken to tackle its spread.  

"A dwindling fraction of these cases will be severe enough to lead to death. It is this new normal that we must become accustomed to," Gautam I Menon, professor, Departments of Physics and Biology, Ashoka University, told PTI.

“The world cannot function in a state of permanent heightened alertness," Menon, who has been tracking Covid numbers since the beginning of the pandemic, said.

On September 22, the number of daily reported global deaths stood at 1,395, the lowest since March 2020, while the number of new cases was 4,28,321 (4.2 lakh), the lowest since October 2020, as per WHO.

In India, the daily number of cases peaked at 4,14,188 on May 7, 2021, while June 10, 2021 saw highest death numbers of 6,148. On Friday, the country reported 5,383 new cases and 20 deaths due to Covid. 

"This is certainly an indicator that a major phase of the current pandemic is now ending, although we should be careful how we interpret the word 'ending'," Menon added. 

Epidemiologist Ramanan Laxminarayan opined risk is lower for the vaccinated. 

"Due to vaccination and widespread population exposure, the risk of hospitalisation and death has come down a lot so in the sense of the public attention moving on, it is only to be expected," Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in Washington, told PTI.

“Although the Covid disease is not going to disappear, it is unlikely that we will see a big resurgence in Covid deaths and hospitalisations if we go back to life as normal."

"A new strain that is dangerous could always emerge but we can then take appropriate measures at that time," the scientist sounded hopeful. 

More than two years after declaring COVID-19 an international emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) is now expressing optimism that the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight.

"We have spent two-and-a-half years in a long, dark tunnel, and we are just beginning to glimpse the light at the end of that tunnel," WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

"But it is still a long way off, and the tunnel is still dark, with many obstacles that could trip us up if we don’t take care," he added.

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