At this point in our battle against COVID-19, there are two plain truths we must keep at the center of our planning.

The first is that the entire healthcare community (science, advocacy, public health, medicine, and bio-pharmaceutical) is exploring and researching effective therapies to manage, lessen, and stamp out the impact of the coronavirus. Treatment options are becoming more available for patients with moderate to severe symptoms and for hospitalized patients.

The second truth is that COVID-19 and all its future variants are endemic. We’re going to be living with the coronavirus from now on. We live in a new era in which there are simply more disease risks than in recent history. It is not possible to return to zero-COVID.

Fortunately, the available data suggest that COVID-19’s effects on our health are waning as its variants become more virulent. Therefore, let’s follow the science as our innovative biopharmaceutical sector develops newer, more accessible, and less expensive therapies to treat, rather than vainly attempting to eradicate, COVID-19.

Vaccines have already come to market — they did so at warp speed. With the emergence of the omicron variant, the United States has just gone through its fastest uptake of a vaccine in our history. However, public health officials are now telling us that we’re not fully vaccinated without a booster shot. Where is our chance to get back to normal? More than 200 million people in the U.S. are now fully vaccinated, but cases (and deaths) are rising. As the Washington Post reports: "More than two-thirds of the eligible U.S. population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while some 24 percent have been fully vaccinated with a booster dose, according to CDC data." It is evident that the healthcare community needs to refocus on COVID-19 treatments and therapeutics. This is where our chance lies to move away from the constant threat of restrictions, lockdowns, and mandates.

Our immune systems are complex. Will vaccinated patients with the omicron variant (or future variants) suffer mild or more severe symptoms? The science is developing.

Obviously, new coronavirus variants will alter the risk landscape for the vaccinated. Treatments will help mitigate the risk. For instance, Merck’s molnupiravir, an antiviral drug, was developed to treat the flu. Given in the form of a pill, this medicine “prevents the virus from spreading in our bodies and can help treat patients at risk for severe cases of viral disease.”

There’s also Rigel Pharmaceuticals’s fostamatinib, an immunoregulator currently in phase III trials that helps in modulating the body’s response to COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. Treatments such as this one will matter significantly regardless of vaccination status, even in the face of new variants, as the majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and breakthrough cases drive incremental hospitalizations.

CNBC is reporting this week that Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is “confident the full results from the clinical trials will show that the oral antiviral pill, Paxlovid, reduces COVID hospitalization and death by 89%.”

The World Health Organization and U.S. health officials have made it clear that Omicron may prove more transmissible than previous variants. If so, the future of medical progress against COVID-19 depends on the powerful combination of vaccines and therapeutics. In fact, the omicron variant may be what the U.S. needs to learn to live with COVID-19. Even if omicron proves highly virulent, new treatments will make it possible to respond to the coronavirus with science rather than fear.

We must continue to listen to the WHO and public health officials. However, with therapeutics and medicines to treat COVID-19, we will be able to do exactly what Dr. Marc Siegel recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “Omicron: Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Doctors have learned that a vaccine-centric solution is narrow-minded. As healthcare tools broaden with the addition of therapeutics and a realization that we will be living with, and fighting, COVID-19 variants for the rest of our lifetimes, advances in medicines will continue to provide medicines to attempt to prevent and mitigate the effects of this horrible illness that has disrupted our lives for too long.

Jerry Rogers is the editor of RealClearHealth and the host of The Jerry Rogers Show on WBAL NewsRadio.