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MEMPHIS, Tenn.– The countdown is on for the new year. With the new year comes new developments for battling COVID-19.

In 2020, the pandemic hit and society nearly screeched to a halt as the world worked to stop the spread of infection and death.

In 2021, there was a mass vaccination rollout with a goal to stop people from getting sick at all or reduce the effects of infection.

Infectious disease specialist and member of the Memphis-Shelby County COVID task force Dr. Manoj Jain has seen the turbulent, tragic effects of the virus.

“Before we had the vaccinations it was really scary. Now with vaccines we have reduced that significantly.”

Now, local doctors are telling us what they believe the next year could have in store.

Dr. Jain said now with the introduction of antiviral medicines, taken orally could also make a difference.

“Now with the two medicines, one by Pfizer and one by Merck, we really have that option of decreasing any severe complications. Especially those with underlying problems. Maybe it’s a weak immune system,” he said.

In the latest data released by Merck studies, the drug, Molnupiravir, reduces the risk of hospitalization by 30%. The goal of the company’s drug is to create mistakes in the COVID-19 virus, stopping it from multiplying.

“So 2022 will be the year of COVID medications and slowly and slowly we’re going to mitigate the risks of causing hospitalizations and death from COVID and turn it from a severe illness down to something that’s manageable like a cough or a cold,” said Dr. Jain.

Dr. Steve Threlkeld hopes for a decrease in coronavirus cases as more people get vaccinated.

“You hope that just with creeping, increasing numbers of vaccination and continued many waves of the virus around our country that we’ll see it gradually decrease in the numbers and severity,” he said.

On December 23, the FDA granted emergency authorization for Merck’s COVID-19 pill and it’s already been authorized for the same use in the UK.