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Will the Pandemic Ever End?

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 5, 2021 13:36

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Covid-19 has claimed 5.2 million lives worldwide and rages on. Now the omicron variant has reared its ugly head. How worried should we be?

I am Covid weary. You are Covid weary. We're ALL Covid weary! The past two years have taken a toll on everybody--from social isolation to restrictions galore. But most concerning is the chronic worry about our family and friends' health (not to mention humanity at large) plus living with the possibility of contracting a virus that could be fatal--not fun thoughts even for the fatalistic.

This morning, I woke up feeling a bit hopeless about the future. But regressing for a bit, I shifted gears and tried to look at this situation through another pair of lenses. Here is what I came up with:

The pandemic will eventually 'end' or at least become similar to the flu endemic. We will live with Covid the same way we do with the flu. Tragically, people die from complications of the flu every year. But the panic tied to Covid is not associated with flu season. Most people I know get a flu shot, and that's it. They do not linger in a state of chronic worry.

The majority of health experts believe that "SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay," according to Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The better news is, the doctor said, "Our grandchildren's grandchildren will still be catching (the virus), but Covid, the disease, will become part of our history as the infection morphs into just another cause of the common cold."

There is a consensus among many health professionals that we have the tools to fight the pandemic but don't always use them. Experts say if more people took vaccines or had access to them, that would help. Measures like isolating upon infection and intermittent physical distancing practices would also quelch the spread of the virus. Researchers at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, believe that keeping a distance from others through 2122 would help get the virus to the endemic stage, like the flu. The authors said temporary periods of physical spacing are preferable-- because they pointed out that too stringent distancing regularly could make it harder to establish herd immunity. It is unknown how long people who have recovered from Covid maintain immunity. 

Covid cases triggered by the new variant omicron have spread into 17 states across the US. It was found that omicron has a reproduction rate of two--meaning each person who gets infected with omicron is likely to spread it to two others. But there is guardedly good news in that most patients present mild symptoms--so omicron could be less deadly than delta. Still, the jury is out. 

I try to stay positive despite predictions from scientists like Dr. Sarah Gilbert, a creator of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, that the next pandemic could be much worse than this one. The doctor is encouraging worldwide pandemic preparedness to get ready for an unpredictable future. Hard lessons have been learned.

Marion Charatan

Posted on December 5, 2021 13:36

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