For people who never got COVID, what are the odds they never will? Here’s what experts say

As pandemic restrictions ease, some of the estimated 57% of Americans who have not yet contracted the virus may be wondering: If I start to live more like normal – going mask-free at restaurants, shopping and even parties – what are the odds that I will never get COVID-19?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that around 43% of people in the US, or about 140 million people, have been infected with the coronavirus, which leaves almost 60% never having had it. The estimate counts each person once, so some of the more than 140 million Americans estimated to have had COVID may have been infected more than once.

While during the omicron surge experts and public health officials cautioned that the highly contagious variant would infect many people, they do not think ending up with the virus is inevitable, at least in the near future. But, they say, it’s going to require a fine balance as we transition into the endemic stage of COVID-19.

“From my perspective, no, it’s not inevitable” over the next year or two, said UCSF Chair of Medicine Dr. Bob Wachter, who also has not gotten COVID yet. He said when case rates are low, as they are now in the Bay Area, the roughly 60% of the population that has not had COVID is unlikely to get it, “since they will not be exposed very much.”

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