As coronavirus cases slow down across the country, people are asking whether the pandemic will finally be over soon.
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021 has become one of the most influential events of 21st-century history. Nonetheless, people are starting to ask when it will be over. Restrictions and social distancing have taken a toll on many, changing lifestyles and pushing countless out of their jobs worldwide. Recovery is proceeding, although slowly and not uniformly.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada declines and vaccination rates climb, the end of the pandemic may appear closer. At least, when it comes to the pandemic’s worst effects and seemingly perpetual lockdowns. When, however, can a pandemic be ‘over’ on a worldwide scale?
According to experts, it will happen only when there is fair and global access to vaccines, as well as other safety practices. Afterward, normal, pre-pandemic practices of 21st-century living will resume. Thanks to its ambitious program of mixing and matching, Canada could complete full-scale vaccination by September. Cases are also declining, showing that the third wave which started in March is subsiding.
Toronto epidemiologist Dr. Ashleigh Tuite explains that vaccines are the “game-changer” to achieve the new normalcy. “I think we are heading towards the end of the pandemic in a sense that the virus will still be with us, but it’s not going to be causing the huge disruptions that it’s causing right now because we are vaccinating our population and we’re building up that immunity,” said Tuite.
Coronavirus will not completely disappear, becoming instead a seasonal nuisance
Where to go from here? According to the WHO, if the disease is contained in a certain geographic area, it becomes an epidemic. Tet, the virus remains transmissible, and there is a significant probability that it may revert to a pandemic. When a disease is present in a given area but can be controlled, such as the flu, it is referred to as an endemic. In order to manage a coronavirus endemic, we will need booster shots to build on previous immunity from vaccines.
Dr. Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at New York University, warns governments that it isn’t over until it’s truly over. She remarks that immunity must be achieved worldwide for life to go back to normal. Equitable access to vaccines is, therefore, paramount. Global coordination of vaccine doses, while complex, is a crucial goal for WHO and the UN. “I think what people forget is that a pandemic is a worldwide epidemic. So the pandemic is not going to be over until it’s over everywhere”, she said.
Tuite, meanwhile, talked about the probability of COVID-19 becoming a seasonal disease. In the long term, COVID-19 will resemble a stronger type of flu, with booster shots widespread. “We’ll hopefully have a large fraction of our population vaccinated. The virus could still be here and could still circulate and cause outbreaks, but we’re not going to be in a pandemic situation,” he concluded.