As the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic approaches in the U.S., new cases of the disease are continuing to see a sustained drop. This development has made some experts cautiously optimistic that health restrictions will be able to be safely lifted in the near future, likely by the end of 2021. But one doctor says he has seen enough data to safely predict that COVID will be “mostly gone” much sooner than that, saying life could go back to normal as early as this coming April. Read on to see exactly when he thinks the pandemic will be behind us, and for more on how current numbers look where you live, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State. One doctor wrote that early spring could see a return to normal life. In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on Feb. 18, Marty Makary, MD, a surgeon and a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that the current downswing in cases is likely a permanent one. “There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected,” he wrote.Makary uses this change in the pandemic’s direction to predict that “at the current trajectory, I expect COVID will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.” And to see what the president predicts, check out President Biden Just Predicted When Things Will Return to Normal. Natural immunity may be helping to bring new cases down. Makary went on to explain that his forecast was based on how health data has appeared since new infections reached an all-time high just weeks ago. “The consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity,” Makary argued.The surgeon and author explained that there was evidence that this was the case. “Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March,” he wrote, adding that “vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.” And for more on who’s still likely to get sick, check out If You’ve Done This Recently, You’re 70 Percent More Likely to Get COVID. Dr. Fauci outlined why he disagreed with the prediction. But while Makary’s prediction may be based on a sense of hope that the end of the pandemic could be within reach, his statements did manage to stir controversy with top medical experts. During an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Feb. 21, White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, was quick to dismiss the forecast, saying, “I’m not so sure that this is herd immunity that we’re talking about.”Fauci went on to explain that we were likely “seeing the natural peaking and coming down” of the previous surge. “Certainly, the number of people that have been infected are contributing to that. Also, some contribution with vaccines. Not a lot. I don’t think we’ve vaccinated enough people yet to get the herd immunity.” And for the latest vaccine news you need to know, check out Dr. Fauci Just Said These People May Only Need One Vaccine Dose. Makary still believes that COVID could “persist for decades.” But despite his rosy outlook, Makary pointed out that the virus has proven to be a difficult foe to fight, and that we might be feeling its effects for some time to come. “The risk of new variants mutating around the prior vaccinated or natural immunity should be a reminder that COVID-19 will persist for decades after the pandemic is over,” he wrote.”It should also instill a sense of urgency to develop, authorize, and administer a vaccine targeted to new variants.” And for more of a less optimistic forecast, check out This Is Exactly When We’ll See the Next COVID Surge, Experts Warn.