One year after, epidemiologists, disaster preparedness experts, and infectious disease journalists predict the disruptions from the then-burgeoning Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the experts envision the future of the coronavirus, many predict that it was a seasonal pathogen that won’t be much more than a nuisance for most of us who have been vaccinated or previously exposed to it.
The professionals caution that despite recent vaccination successes, the world is not yet over with the crisis, and it should prepare now for the spirals the coronavirus could impact in the coming months.
There may not be an end goal to the pandemic, and the epidemiologists do not have an immediate answer to the global health crisis. Whether it is going to get to zero?
Nevertheless, there are reasons for optimism as well. Covid-19 vaccines were far more powerful than they would have predicted, several epidemiologists stated.
However, the experts said it was time to recognise the coronavirus or Covid-19 virus isn’t going to disappear, but many experts envision some sort of fall resurgence.
However long it takes, the transition to a mild endemic virus is unlikely to be a straight line. Some infectious disease researchers envision a healthier summer — with a low circulation of the virus and more people vaccinated — but a more tenuous fall.
The governments which made a pragmatic response to the pandemic were able to master damage control than others, like the Donald Trump administration’s haphazard response, which was equally rife with misinformation.
Not enough, according to the Global Health Security Index, a report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, and the Economist Intelligence Unit released in October 2019.
The 195-country study finds national health security to be “fundamentally weak” around the world. No nation is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic, it says.
Many countries like Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam are presently fairing very well after mass vaccination campaign has been launched.
These are not predictions that people fed up with the pandemic will want to hear. But at the same time, some experts are optimistic that the end of this crisis phase is within sight, as vaccines reach more people and protect them from the worst outcomes of Covid-19.
Some regions or countries could eliminate the virus through widespread immunisations, but they could also face reintroductions.
Multiple vaccines injected into people’s arms less than a year after scientists sequenced the coronavirus is an astonishing feat despite the prevalence of variant outbreaks.
Therefore, booster doses will be more effective, besides the best of health management and efficient health messages.
The countries will not reach herd immunity over the summer. Herd immunity has been portrayed by some as a logical endpoint of the pandemic.
Other factors, like how long protection provided by vaccines will last, what percentage of people gets them, and whether variants of the virus sap the strength of vaccines, will determine the outcome.
Covid-19 is unlikely to be forgotten, but the experts stressed now was the time, when the world was fully aware of how damaging and disruptive a pandemic could be, take just a few of the billions of dollars that are being spent in recovery and dedicating them toward building up global surveillance networks for new pathogens, expanding the existing testing infrastructure, and bulking up global vaccine manufacturing capability.
That’s not to say that the country, or the world, will still be at an intersection of a crisis phase over the next couple of years.
Gradually, fewer people will get sick, more activities will be considered safer, and something approaching normalcy will return.
Saleem Samad, is an independent journalist, media rights defender, recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He could be reached at email@example.com; Twitter @saleemsamad