If COVID-19 continues as expected many leading scientists suggest that the virus will eventually become endemic. The already large number of viruses that effect humans at present is known as ‘endemic’.
To effectively stop COVID-19 before it becomes endemic a country would most likely have to self isolate away from the world. In our globally connected world that is very unlikely in the long term. Even New Zealand that is managing to contain the virus will have to screen visitors rigorously for their strategy to work.
We know that the measure already being implemented in the UK and the US to slow the virus down rather than eradicate it. The idea is to implement what is known as ‘herd immunity’ where the virus is allowed to spread slowly into the population.
No ones really know how effective this will be or how long that will take. It is unlikely that a whole population will become immune to any vaccine soon. Normally when the population has been vaccinated the virus may slow down spreading in a population.
A more likely scenario is that the virus will stabilize in the population like the flu for example. Then COVID-19 will become ‘endemic’ and part of our daily lives. Many scientists suggest that your immunity may only last months.
So it is possible that we will need a few vaccines a year of one every year. We really do not know yet and can only go only past viruses like the flu.
The problem with immunity is that it is not a universal process. Certain sections of societies or even countries will have varying immunities. We have seen this with the virus spreading more aggressively in the poorer section of societies. This is down to their state of health worse than their affluent counterparts.
The main problem at present for societies all over the world is living with this new virus. We can only help slow the spread and lose fewer lives if we realise this may become the new normal. Health initiatives may have to be implemented more aggressively to tackle obesity and those high-risk conditions.
Then living with the virus will mean not expecting to go back as it was and adapt as best we can. Pulling together as a society and understanding full lockdowns will only help slow the virus. Additionally, any attempt at fast herd immunity will most likely cost more lives.
People need to understand that wearing a mask is not a short term measure as is social distancing. We can adapt and have in the past when tackling viruses such as this. There will be a desire to have what we determine as normal.
We have to understand normal are routines in societies determined over a period of time. It will take years for this virus to really become what we term as our normal.
How well we cope with the virus in the years and decades to come will be determined not solely by vaccines and social distancing.
Governments will have to address the economic impact and know that the only way forward is to really tackle the rich and poor divide. Billionaires may need to give up half their fortunes to keep societies from falling apart.
A real economic revolution is coming and cannot be avoided. We need to move away from tax avoidance and pass stringent laws where the rich minority pay for the virus.
This begins with electing governments that will tackle this properly and if they do not then unelect them.