Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said Monday he plans to ask European officials to consider treating COVID-19 more like an endemic illness — a regularly occurring milder disease like the flu — and move away from the detailed tracking system that the pandemic has required.
In an interview with Spain’s Cadena SER radio, Sanchez said deaths as a proportion of recorded cases have fallen dramatically since the initial onset of the pandemic. He said he believes the pandemic has reached a point where the evolution of the disease can “be evaluated with different parameters.”
Sanchez said it would be a gradual, cautious process but said it is time to open the debate “at the technical level and at the level of health professionals, but also at the European level.”
He also confirmed a report from the country’s leading newspaper El País, that Spanish health authorities are already drafting a new monitoring system in which every new infection would not need to be recorded, and that people with symptoms would not necessarily be tested but will continue to receive treatment.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health says a virus, such as the one that causes COVID-19, transitions from a pandemic to an endemic phase when a virus does not go extinct but merely drops in prevalence and severity over a long period of time.