As New Zealand enters the den of Omicron, a wave of cautious optimism about the direction of the pandemic is rippling overseas.
While now dominating, studies have shown Omicron generally results in a less severe infection among the vaccinated than Delta.
Hopes are rising that Covid-19 is beginning to shift from a pandemic to a more easily manageable endemic illness.
At this stage that could still be wishful thinking: The virus has been a tricky customer and has further potential to evolve into new variants through humans and animals. It's also going to take all year before global vaccine coverage is much improved.
However, a number of experts suggest a new phase is being entered.
On Monday, the World Health Oranisation's director for Europe, Hans Kluge, said Omicron could bring the Covid-19 pandemic to an end in the region.
"It's plausible that [Europe] is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame," he said, predicting that Omicron could infect 60 per cent of Europeans by March.
"We anticipate that there will be a period of quiet before Covid-19 may come back towards the end of the year, but not necessarily the pandemic coming back."
Ireland lifted Covid health measures over the weekend and France plans to start the process in early February.
In Britain, Professor Neil Ferguson - an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, and a government adviser - said he was "optimistic that the bulk of the pandemic, in terms of deaths and hospitalisations, is behind us. Though we should still be prepared for some possible bumps on the road."
In the United States, the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he is "as confident as you can be" that Omicron will have peaked in most states by mid-February. The rate of new Covid cases was "going in the right direction" including in California, New York and Florida. Some states and health workforces are still under great pressure, though.
Fauci added a hope that the US infection level will "get to below what I call that area of control", so that cases are "there, but they don't disrupt society".
Former director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Tom Frieden, tweeted "we know that increased vaccination and infection are strengthening our defences against Covid. I'm more optimistic about our ability to tame the pandemic than at any point since its emergence". Though he has also outlined reasons not to underestimate Omicron.
The reasons for optimism include the Omicron turn towards less severity, boosters making a major difference, vaccines still being able to protect against the worst Covid outcomes, and the knowledge built up over two years.
Governments, health authorities and populations are familiar with how to deal with any variants: with a mix of vaccines, boosters, medicines, masks, ventilation, social distancing, home tests and other requirements.
In March, information is expected to be released about Omicron specific vaccines and by mid-year there will likely be data about vaccines for the under 5s. More anti-viral drugs will come on stream. Rapid home tests will at some stage be available from supermarkets here.
There's at least a chance the pandemic may look more predictable and manageable beyond this Omicron outbreak.