With omicron decreasing, more people are asking for a normal return. Governments are beginning to take action. For example, the UK has begun to remove all of its public health measures including mandatory isolation for COVID cases, and free testing. The truth is, unless the virus becomes milder, our “normal” lives will be shorter and more sickly than ever before.
We have a new, significant disease in our society. As if COVID were flu, it is often compared with flu. Actually, COVID was worse. The COVID infection fatality rate, which is the percentage of people who die from it after they have caught it, was initially about ten times greater than that of flu. Although the fatality rate has fallen over time due to treatment, vaccines, and previous infections, it is still nearly twice as high as for flu. This also holds true for omicron.
Because COVID is more easily transmitted, the impact of this is worsened. It can also have a worse or similar long-term effect on the heart
, lungs, And Mental health Higher rates of this disease than any other respiratory disease and a greater rate of Long-term effects. Although vaccines are extremely effective in reducing serious illness and death, they are not perfect. New vaccine variants have been tested for their ability to protect against infection and lessen severe illness. After, the effect of this is a temporary waning. It could take a few months.
Although we are unlikely to lose our protection against death and severe illness, many will be infected again with COVIDs as a result of the return to normal process in countries like the UK, Denmark, and Norway. While most people will survive, some will not. Others will become permanently ill. Even with mild illnesses, many people will need to be absent from work or school for a while. As we saw with omicron the cumulative effects can be disruptive.
The world of pre-2020 is gone. We may wish it did, but it doesn’t.
In the last 150 years, there have been dramatic improvements in public health. There has been a significant drop in deaths due to malnutrition, road traffic accidents, and infectious diseases.
We have created solutions for communal problems, including vaccines, controls on pollution, passive smoking, and unsafe driving. It’s not normal to accept a new serious disease such as COVID and not actively try to reduce it.
We can reduce it, which is the good news. Accepting that the world has changed can help us adapt to it based on the lessons we have learned over the past two years. These are eight changes that could reduce COVID’s future impact:
- Outdoors are pretty safe –so let’s make indoors as similar to the outdoors as we can. This will require large investments in infrastructure for ventilation, filtering, and cleaning the air. It isn’t easy, but it was also difficult to bring clean water and electricity into every home. It is possible and we know how it can be done.
- Vaccines remain crucial. To save lives and slow down new variants, we must vaccinate the entire world. It is also important to continue working toward vaccines with longer-lasting and better variant resistance.
- We have learned that it is important to act quickly to contain outbreaks and prevent their spread to other countries. We need to invest in global surveillance for new COVID variants and other infectious diseases.
- Many countries have routine surveillance of serious infectious diseases (such as flu or measles) and plan to reduce their impact. To keep track of the amount of COVID in circulation, and where it is, countries need to implement permanent surveillance.
- Although we still don’t know enough about the long-term effects of COVID, we know that it can cause severe and persistent organ damage as well as long-term COVID. These impacts need to be addressed.
- Many the already in trouble before COVID hit and have had their resilience further eroded since then. It is crucial to invest in health systems, especially in winter when the added burden of COVID-pandemic-trauma-1387115 will be felt most.
- COVID has impacted the most vulnerable and the hardest. The most vulnerable are those who can’t afford to isolate themselves, as they are more likely to use public transport and live in overcrowded housing–all of which increase the risk of contracting the virus. Higher exposure can be accompanied by lower vaccination rates and poorer healthcare among the disadvantaged, which could lead to worse outcomes for those who are infected. Inequalities in education, health, housing, work, and workplaces must be reduced. This will increase our resilience to future outbreaks, and decrease ill health and deaths–not only from COVID but all other causes.
- There will be future waves of COVID-the above will just reduce their frequency. These need to be addressed. A national surveillance system that is well-designed and efficient will quickly identify and assess the severity of an outbreak, as well as how many people are ill and how they have evaded immunity. This will allow for appropriate and temporary responses. For example, an appropriate response could include increasing testing, reintroducing masks, and working from home when possible.
These plans will help us avoid prolonged lockdowns. The greatest risk to future lockdowns is refusing to accept COVID and pretending that the old normal still exists.
It is time to let go of the anger and denial stages of grief and accept that the world has changed. We can then take control of our lives and create a lifestyle that will contain the virus and allow all people, including the clinically vulnerable, to live healthier and happier lives.
This post was written by a medical professional at The Wellness Firm. The Wellness Firm’s services include workplace flu clinics, workplace flu vaccination providers, onsite rapid Covid testing in St Pete, the physical exam for employment, as well as American Heart Association CPR certification classes. Founded by local Firemen, The Wellness Firm has been providing a safer Tampa Bay since 2006.