Where We Stand Today, and In the Future?
We are going on three years of the COVID pandemic. It is amazing the road we have traveled. Now watching the news, there is little or no attention to the current situation. A story about China locking down a store because someone tested positive. Or, the possibility of masks in schools and social distancing in schools and other places.
We hear about the latest variant, or subvariants. Variations of the omicron variant referred to as BA.4 and BA.5. Increases in cases in specific areas, like Chicago, have the attention of the CDC and others. The groups still at increased risk are the same as with the CoV-2, and the other variants and subvariants. People with underlying health conditions, especially multiple conditions, still need to be careful. Unvaccinated people, and those who, for whatever reason, haven’t already been exposed to the virus need to be careful.
Just about everyone, whether vaccinated or not, has been exposed to COVID in one way or another. This leads to increased immunity and lowers the risk of severe disease. There is really no way to know the actual numbers. The CDC can give us a pretty accurate estimate of the number of vaccinated, but so many people have tested positive with home tests, it’s not possible to know the results of those home tests. Also, it is still interesting that many people have been directly exposed and haven’t ever tested positive for COVID.
The future looks a lot like how we treat the flu. This can be an annual vaccine, or other actions when there is a specific outbreak. It is also possible that a combination flu/COVID shot will be developed in the near future so you can get both with only one shot. The same applies for tests.
Pretty much anyone above the age of five has seen mass shutdowns from flu outbreaks in the past. This occurs in schools and colleges on a regular basis. We are likely to see these in the future from COVID outbreaks, the flu and other communicable diseases. Whether this results in increased deaths, and severe impact on the economy is impossible to predict. It probably will, but how much?
There are all kinds of stories and discussion about “long COVID”. This is a developing story which hasn’t become clear thus far. A lot of information over time has to be evaluated to know what the long-term effects of COVID are, or will be.
SARS CoV-2 will be with us for the foreseeable future, as will other coronaviruses and the flu. What we refer to as the common cold is caused by a viral infection, similar to COVID and the flu, so it’s reasonable that any time someone feels “sick” they wonder whether it is COVID or something else. It is understandable that we begin to treat COVID just like we treat the common cold.
Dealing with viral diseases and infections are part of life. We will continue to see them, and fight them. As technology improves for prevention and treatment of COVID, the severity of it will continue to diminish. As with all health matters, staying vigil and a bit cautious can be very helpful. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”