(HealthDay News) — Weeks after omicron began ravaging the United States, experts are now seeing statistical signs that suggest the wildly contagious variant might be losing steam.

More states have now reported they have passed their peaks in new cases, and new cases have begun to drop nationally — daily average cases fell to around 690,000 yesterday, down from about 807,000 10 days ago, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. New COVID-19 hospital admissions have also leveled off. Where case counts have fallen, the drop has been precipitous, similar to what was seen in South Africa recently after omicron careened through that country.

The latest trends have public health experts around the world daring to hope that omicron will be the variant that turns a pandemic into an endemic disease. Hans Henri Kluge, M.D., the WHO regional director for Europe, said in a statement Monday that the pandemic was entering a “new phase” as “omicron offers plausible hope for stabilization and normalization.”

And in a new commentary published in The Lancet, Christopher Murray, M.D., of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle, estimated that 50% of the world would be infected by omicron by the end of March, which will change the way countries manage the virus. “After the omicron wave, COVID-19 will return, but the pandemic will not,” he wrote. “The era of extraordinary measures by government and societies to control SARS-CoV-2 transmission will be over.”

The only threat to that hopeful scenario would be the emergence of new variants that could elude vaccines.