The COVID-19 pandemic will not come to an end until younger children can be vaccinated, The New York Times on Monday quoted epidemiologists as saying in a new survey.
They said that the true end of the pandemic -- when it becomes safer to return to most activities without precautions -- will arrive once at least 70 percent of Americans of all ages are vaccinated.
Adolescents in the United States just began receiving vaccines this week, and those for children younger than 12 are not yet approved, according to the newspaper.
"Children are key to ending the pandemic," said David Celentano, chair of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University and one of the 723 epidemiologists who participated in the survey this month.
The experts also believe that COVID-19 will circulate at a lower rate in five years, but no longer be a public health crisis necessitating lockdowns.
"It feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel," said Gretchen Bandoli, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. "We have the tools we need to get there, and it feels within reach."
In the survey, about 85 percent of respondents said it was likely that Americans would be able to safely gather for Fourth of July barbecues this summer. A slightly higher share said it was likely that schools would be able to be fully open in the fall, and that families would be able to safely gather indoors for the winter holidays.