Tara asks when the pandemic is going to be over.
[Keywords: Covid, virus, mutation, still, global, prognosis]
Dr Ryen, what the heck is going on! We’ve been in this darned pandemic for nearly two years. It seems like everybody and their dog has caught it. People are slowly getting vaccinated. We’ve been isolating and quarantining and masking and not shaking hands. When’s this going to be over?! Sigh, I just want to get back to normal.
- Tara, Brockville, ON, Canada
Tara, you’ve spoken the words that have been on all our minds since this all started. Everyone is sick of Covid. This pandemic has us all a little crazy and there’s nothing we’d rather do than ditch all the regulations, vaccines, and quarantines and get on with our lives.
Here are a few of the many reasons why that hasn’t happened yet.
The common cold is caused by a number of different viruses, all of which mutate. These are different from bacteria, which respond to antibiotics. The frequent mutation of these viruses is why we keep getting colds every year - none of them are exactly the same. Covid-19 is a really nasty version of a common cold, so nasty that it sometimes leads to severe complications, even death. It’s not the same sort of virus as influenza, which is why we get flu shots every year. However, like the flu, Covid has continued to mutate since it arrived, which is how we now have a Delta variant, among others. There’s no vaccine to prevent the common cold because each one is different. However, our current vaccines work very well for Covid-19, and probably work reasonably well for the new variants. However, the viruses we encounter in the future (Covid or otherwise) may or may not respond to our current vaccinations.
As I said, the vaccines we currently have for Covid work reasonably well. Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting them. Thus the spread of the virus has continued primarily in unvaccinated people, giving Covid a chance to mutate again and forcing many jurisdictions to maintain social restrictions.
Covid has polarized our society. I’m sure you’ve noticed how some people are fearful and uber-paranoid about catching it, while others couldn’t care less. Either way, everyone seems to have a strong (and often vocal) opinion. Policy makers are caught in the middle, so that there’s harsh criticism by both sides any time something is done (or not done) in response to Covid. It’s a lose-lose scenario for anyone in a position of power. The physical health of society, economics, political pressure, and our frayed mental health are a perfect storm of discontent.
Covid is a nasty bug. The vaccine is safe, but the lack of uptake in the general population has allowed Covid to continue to spread. Will the vaccine work for future strains of Covid? Only time will tell. Above all, Covid has made everyone crazy - some are fearful, some are ambivalent, most are upset, and everyone is burned out. An almost-normal summer helped our mental health somewhat, but this latest Fourth Wave seems to be more than we can bear.
When is the end coming? Eventually. But there may be another virus right around the corner. I apologize if this is a dismal outlook, but our “normal” from 2018 is most likely gone for good. It’s time for us all to find a new normal. So go get vaccinated (if you haven’t already), wash your hands often, and don’t stop praying.
© D. B. Ryen Incorporated, September 2021.
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