As COVID-19 drags on and new vaccines promise widespread immunity, the world's attention has turned to predicting how the present pandemic will end. How do societies know when an epidemic is over and normal life can resume? What criteria and markers indicate such an end? Who has the insight, authority, and credibility to decipher these signs? Detailed research on past epidemics has demonstrated that they do not end suddenly; indeed, only rarely do the diseases in question actually end.