Will this pandemic never end?

Truly worth reading is a piece by Donald G. McNeil Jr., “The End IS Near. No, Seriously.” He has written for the NY Times since 1976 and Global health beat since 2002 and gives us a perspective on the covid pandemic based on the history of others like the Spanish Flu of 1918 and the black plague from the mid 1300’s. He argues that the end of the pandemic has as much to do with the psychology of how we react to the threat as with the ongoing statistics of the infection and death rates.

No one talked about the flu for the last 2 years…do you know a single person who actually had it? And yet it was reportedly the 9th leading cause of death in 2019 when Covid deaths ranked third. In a good year about 12,000 Americans die of the flu and in a bad year, 60,000. There is always a vaccine available for the expected mutation. Some years it is highly effective, and some times it misses the mark. In spite of the risk, some of us take the vaccine annually and some don’t bother. There are also ways to treat the flu, so we take our chances. We don’t hide in our houses, quit our jobs, keep our kids home from school, mask up, or social distance. No one expects the flu virus to be completely eradicated. Even the pathogens from leprosy, black plague and Spanish flu are still with us.

Covid will have it’s mutations, it’s spikes and it’s remissions. There will be worse years and better years. While it will wane over time, it will never go away entirely. There are some good treatments for covid emerging as well as new vaccines being formulated. McNeil concludes that it will cease to be a pandemic when we begin to see it as a risk we can live with.

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