The transition of COVID-19 from a pandemic to an endemic disease


James Ayukekbong, BMLS, MSc, PhD, CIC 
Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal of Infection Control

The emergence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID‑19), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has led to an unprecedented global health crisis [1]. Within a few months, the disease that started in a small locality of China in December 2019, had spread to numerous countries around the world, and on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the disease as a public health emergency of international concern [1]. As of March 2023, the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with more than 6.8 million deaths out of more than 681 million confirmed cases worldwide [2]. This number of confirmed cases is likely to be an underestimate because of the proportion of asymptomatic infected persons who may not have sought laboratory testing. Further, the global burden of the disease has been difficult to establish due to differences in surveillance, testing strategies, reporting methods, and other health-seeking behaviours which vary from country to country [3]. Overall, the pandemic has led to a major global health crisis causing significant disruption in social and economic activities.