Two years into a pandemic that has wreaked havoc in Japan and around the world, some experts believe the endgame may be in sight.

That optimism is largely due to improved treatment options, a high vaccination rate and the milder nature of the omicron variant, which has spurred an unprecedented rise in cases nationwide but has a fatality rate that, if early data holds, may even be roughly on par with influenza.

At the same time, much about the course of the pandemic remains murky, including the potential risk of long COVID-19 and the effectiveness of available treatments against the omicron variant.