Well-known emergency physician, Dr Stephanos Herodotou, who has been serving on the frontline of Melbourne’s public hospitals for 40 years, sent out last week, the message of hope we are all so eager to hear.

In a post on his Facebook profile, he predicts that we have reached the end of the first stage of the pandemic. He states that he is very confident that science has won the battle, and humanity, despite all its weaknesses, has also won. His statements, Dr Herodotou explains, are based on what he sees and feels is happening around him.

“My friends, be patient for a bit longer,” he writes and adds that the same will soon be announced officially by the World Health Organisation, and then all of us will celebrate our freedom again.

The second stage of the pandemic, according to Dr Herodotou, will involve the enormous efforts needed to repair the great damage the pandemic has caused worldwide. There is a large number of underdeveloped countries where the economic impact and the impact on the health system has been devastating.

The vaccination rate in these countries is very low and, therefore, there is still a risk to the citizens of these countries, but also to the rest of the world, of the possible emergence of new variants or even a new virus, which will continue to threaten global health.

Dr Herodotou’s message is important, as it comes from a doctor who has spent the last two years, experiencing first-hand the waves of the pandemic and the impact they have had on those infected, and on our health system.

In light of his optimistic views, we asked him to enlighten us and explain the basis of his theory, at a time when several scientists are still warning us not to assume that the pandemic is over with the emergence of “Omicron”.

“What I said was based on what I feel is happening,” Dr Herodotou told Neos Kosmos. “I know that the pandemic is not over. However, I believe that we are now reaching that stage.”

“Viruses always follow the same course. Either the virus starts becoming less virulent or people acquire the immunity they need.

We seem to have acquired that immunity, as most of the population has been vaccinated in most countries of the world. And even if we see new variants emerge in the future, the basis of the virus will be the same. As is the case with the common flu, for example, which mutates every year, but it’s basis is always the same.”

“Covid-19 was a completely new virus and no one in the world had come in contact with it, which was the reason we had absolutely no degree of immunity. That’s why, from the very beginning, we said that the only solution and our only hope is to find the right vaccine,” Dr Herodotou adds.

The right vaccine was found. And not just one, but many, with scientists using mRNA technology.

The Cypriot doctor explains, that even though the Omicron strain has infected far more people than previous strains, it is far less virulent.

“Yes, the number of the hospitalised is high, but the percentage of people admitted in hospitals, is very low compared to the total number of cases, just as the number of deaths is also very small compared to the number of people infected with the virus.”

We also notice, he says, that the vaccinated population suffers only mild symptoms when infected with the Omicron strain, and though the unvaccinated can become severely ill, the new strain is not as dangerous as the Delta variant was.

“And this is exactly what scientists were waiting for,” Dr Herodotou stressed. “When this starts to happen, we know that we can start talking about the end of the pandemic. How close are we to the end? We can’t accurately predict it…”

However he remains optimist. As long as we have acquired immunity, even if a new strain emerges, the protein of the virus will always be the same, so the vaccines will continue to be effective.

“What also gives us hope, is that we can make vaccines for every variant of this virus. This mRNA technology is a huge scientific breakthrough which was discovered before the emergence of the novel coronavirus disease.”

The discovery was published in medical journals 4-5 years ago, maybe even more, according to Dr Herodotou, and was the solution that the medical community hoped to apply in the event of a pandemic.

“At the time we didn’t pay much attention to it because it just hadn’t been proven to be effective, since a new virus had not yet emerged for it to be tested.”

The mRNA technology is an incredible scientific breakthrough, Dr Herodotou adds. “It can be used for many conditions, not just for viruses… to treat other diseases, such as diabetes. We are talking about medical solutions that exist only in our imagination, just as we used to talk about space travel. Such is the discovery of the mRNA technology.”

“It proved to be effective in battling Covid-19, and that is the most important thing of all!” Dr Herodotou said.

However, because mRNA technology is relatively new, it caused a degree of doubt at first.

“But I think those doubts were overcome and we have now reached the point where 90-95% of the population in Australia has been vaccinated. And in other countries such as Spain, Malta, etc., the rates are also very high. Unfortunately, the pandemic will become endemic in countries where the vaccination rate of the population is low and that is where the World Health Organization has now started to focus its efforts.”

Concluding, Dr Herodotou believes that people are desperate to hear something positive for a change.

“Everyone is tired. On the radio, on TV, all we hear about is cases and death rates. Nobody talks about the positive developments.”

“I think it’s time to start talking about the positives, to rebuild people’s confidence in science, and in our ability to solve our problems and survive.

And hopefully this experience, and this agony of the last two years and more, will bring the people closer to each other, reminding us all how common our destiny is. Hopefully it will teach us and our leaders, that cooperation is by far much, much better than the war against each other.”