The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is surging all over the world and bringing back uncomfortable memories of the first year of the pandemic that shut the world down.

Bill Gates has an optimistic, if measured, prediction about the future.

During a Twitter Q&A on Tuesday with Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, Gates wrote that countries around the world should expect to see a steady drop-off in the number of COVID cases within their borders.

“Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so Covid can be treated more like seasonal flu,” Gates said. 

Gates added that he does not think a "more transmissive variant" of COVID-19 is likely to emerge, but would not rule out the possibility. Instead, he emphasized that it was his expectation that more people would have to get annual COVID shots as they do for the flu, but that he believes people will also develop a greater immunity to the virus.

Increased immunity after the Omicron wave begins to subside is something researchers already consider a possibility. In a recent study by researchers in South Africa, where Omicron first emerged, it was found that the variant may in fact increase one’s immunity to other variants as well, including the Delta variant. The researchers cautioned that their study has not yet been peer-reviewed and that current data on Omicron's severity remains limited.

This is not the first time that Gates has made a prediction like this. Speaking at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in November, the billionaire philanthropist said the combination of natural immunity and the emergence of vaccines or other treatments for COVID-19 will push down infection rates "dramatically."

“The vaccines are very good news, and the supply constraints will be largely solved as we get out in the middle of next year, and so we’ll be limited by the logistics and the demand,” Gates said in a virtual interview at the time.