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Join leading experts to discuss the future of the COVID-19 pandemic


When does a pandemic become endemic? 

It’s been nearly two years since the first recorded COVID-19 case, and we all wonder when the virus will disappear and whether we will finally be able to return to our previous lives. The rapid and successful development of a vaccine, building on years of research and vaccine knowledge, has offered hope to the world. 

However, according to the World Health Organisation, only two diseases affecting humans and animals have ever been totally eradicated. Experts suggest that while the pandemic will end, COVID-19 will stay with us and become a circulating virus. What does this mean for the new highly transmissible variants appearing? Are vaccines still effective? And how does the virus evolve when faced with our strengthened immune response?

Professor Brian Cox and our panel of expert speakers discussed the future of the COVID-19 pandemic as we learn to live with the virus. Explore what we currently know about new COVID-19 variants and look forward into how a fully vaccinated society will learn to live with the virus, with contributions from experts from the fields of epidemiology, history and public health. 

This event was part of a series of Royal Society events discussing the scientific response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Catch up with previous events on the Royal Society’s YouTube channel.

Panel speakers included:

  • Christl Donnelly CBE FMedSci FRS, Professor of Applied Statistics, University of Oxford and Professor of Statistical Epidemiology, Imperial College London
  • Kyle Harper, Professor of Classics and Letters and Provost Emeritus at The University of Oklahoma
  • Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection & Immunity and Director of the Vaccine Centre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine