The emergence of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant sparked fresh hope that it might finally spell the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the new strain spread across the planet late last year, early signs indicated it appeared to cause less severe illness compared to earlier variants.
That caused many to question whether it might mean the threat posed by the virus would soon fizzle out, and that it would instead become endemic.
But according to World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, that theory couldn't be more flawed.
Instead, he warned on Tuesday this week that the pandemic was "nowhere near over".
"Omicron may be less severe — on average, of course — but the narrative that it is mild disease is misleading, hurts the overall response, and costs more lives," he told the media from the WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
"Make no mistake, Omicron is causing hospitalisations and deaths and even the less severe cases are inundating health facilities.
"The virus is circulating far too intensely with many still vulnerable."
The WHO's warning comes as Covid cases continue to soar across the planet, with more than 18 million cases reported last week alone.
It's a view shared by the White House's chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci, who told the World Economic Forum earlier this week that it was too early to tell whether Covid could become endemic this year.
"I would hope that that's the case, but that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response," he said, adding we were currently in "the truly pandemic phase" where the planet was "very negatively impacted".
Australia's own Dr Norman Swan agreed, telling The Project on Wednesday night that Omicron was not "mild" as many believed.
"There is this myth that this is a mild virus. You hear it all the time from politicians. It is not a mild virus." he said.
"They compare to Delta. Now, Delta was a virulent virus, yes, it is less virulent than Delta, but if you compare it to the Wuhan virus, it is just as virulent as that. That's why we're seeing deaths.
"Two things about Omicron. One is the natural infection with Omicron does not seem to provide anything like the protection that an immunisation gives, unlikely to protect against the next variant and they use this word endemic as if it is happy days when it goes endemic.
"All endemic means is that an infection is somewhere in the world circulating and never disappears. Smallpox was endemic. Nobody says that's a mild disease. Malaria is endemic in many countries.
"Influenza is endemic and it is not a harmless disease. Endemic does not believe it is harmless. This is an epidemic virus. I'm sorry to say, it is not all over, red rover and we've got to learn lessons and letting it rip has caused economic damage and unnecessary deaths."