Everyone 'probably all going to get COVID…in the next 10 years,' expert says

Medical worker taking a swab for a coronavirus sample from a potentially infected woman.
Medical worker taking a swab for a coronavirus sample from a potentially infected woman. Photo credit Getty Images

Calling the contagious omicron variant "a game changer in terms of transmissibility," one expert is forecasting a coronavirus infection for everyone some time in the next decade.

That's according to R. Andrew Noymer, epidemiologist and health demographer at UC Irvine studying infectious diseases and mortality.

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"Keep in mind, we're probably all going to get COVID in some way shape or form in the next 10 years," he explained. "Hopefully, it's a breakthrough case and it's never too late to get vaccinated. Avoiding COVID entirely will probably be something like a child having avoided chickenpox back in the day before we vaccinated against chickenpox."

Noymer pointed to data showing that many 18 year olds – an estimated 99% of them – had chickenpox antibodies when tested for them at the time a chickenpox vaccine was made available to the public.

"It's hard to avoid these things. They're just so ubiquitous," he added.

Noymer was a guest on KCBS Radio's "Ask An Expert" on Monday.

"Give me a breakthrough case any day over winding up in the hospital on a ventilator," Noymer said, urging anyone who's unvaccinated to get a shot and all Americans to mask appropriately. Given the overwhelming surge of new coronavirus cases across the U.S., Noymer said we're likely in for "a few more weeks" of the current wave before it begins to ease.

He did, however, disagree with new guidance on staying home recently issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The CDC studies have shown that people are still shedding virus after five days," he said. "We're just going to have more spreading if we do the five days approach. Seven perhaps, but I think five is too short. The CDC under its current management is really not doing the taxpayers a good service."