When is this finally going to end? That's the question on many minds after a year of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

But public health experts say we do have an answer, and you're not going to like it: COVID-19 is never going to end. It now seems poised to become an endemic disease — one that is always a part of our environment, no matter what we do.

"We've been told that this virus will disappear. But it will not," Dr. William Schaffner, a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and medical director of the National Foundation For Infectious Diseases, tells CBS News.

"We need to control it. We need to diminish its impact. But it's going to be around hassling us for the foreseeable future. And by that I mean — years."

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. A year later, the virus has infected 118 million people worldwide and killed over 2.6 million, including more than 530,000 Americans, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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