A six-week-long sustained decrease in daily coronavirus cases has many experts optimistic that a major corner has been turned in the pandemic. Still, officials warn that such good news shouldn’t be a reason to give in to “COVID fatigue” so soon, arguing that more people must be vaccinated before life can really return to normal. But according to a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO), it may not be much longer until that can happen, predicting that COVID restrictions won’t be needed by next year. Read on to see why we may be just a year away from normality, and for more on some things that may have changed forever, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said We’ll Never Be Able to Do This Again.

WHO says restrictions will likely be unnecessary by early 2022.
A young woman removing her face mask while standing outdoors.

While speaking with Danish state news service DR on Feb. 21, Hans Kluge, MD, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said even though he believed that COVID-19 would continue to be a major issue throughout the rest of this year, outbreaks will be much easier to handle than they were in 2020 and would continue to lessen in severity, Turkish state news service Anadolu Agency reported. He went on to predict that because of this, the public health precautions that are currently in place could likely be safely removed by early 2022.

“There will continue to be a virus, but I don’t think restrictions will be needed,” Kluge said. “This is an optimistic message.”

New mutations could pose a problem, but are likely manageable thanks to vaccines.
A senior man wearing a face mask receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker

Kluge remained cautiously optimistic when saying that he believed the worst surges had likely already been seen, thanks largely to mountains of new research that will make it much easier to counter any new outbreaks and offer treatments. Still, he warned that the vaccination process had to be seen through, citing that the next major issue would likely arise when vaccinated people first began to mingle with those who have not been immunized.

The director also pointed out that while highly-contagious new variants of the virus could put a strain on some countries and should still be monitored, he was confident that existing vaccines would still be able to provide the protection needed to prevent severe illness.