Covid-19–Quo Vadis?


Many people are still wondering where this Covid-19 is heading to. Will it soon end —and when? This year, next year, or maybe never? New variants, the latest of which is the Delta variant are challenging the efficacy of the existing vaccine.

History shows that pandemics will typically meet two types of endings: medical—when cases and resulting death decreased—and social—when the fear about the epidemic wanes. This is the first time I learn that there is such a thing as a social ending to the pandemic. But social behaviors in the past toward diseases will attest to that. A historian of medicine at John Hopkins Dr. Jeremy Green was quoted as saying that people are actually asking about the social ending when they ask when will this end.

In most countries, when people discuss when to open the economy, those decisions are determined more not by medical and health statistics but by sociopolitical processes, according to New York Times by Gina Kolata published on May 10, 2020. Quoting Allan Brandt, a Harvard historian as saying “As we have seen in the debate about opening the economy, many questions about the so-called end are determined not by medical and public health data but by sociopolitical processes.” The social ending can be clearly explained that it ended not because this virus has been completely eradicated but because the people grow tired of quarantines, exhausted of being panicky, limited by fear, continuing rise of poverty and unemployment, businesses closing, etc.—and ultimately they learn to live with the disease.
People also confused epidemic, pandemic, and endemic, but they are not the same. A disease will start with an epidemic that is just confined within a certain place. When the disease spreads to a larger space such as globally—which we are experiencing now—it is called a pandemic. And finally, when the disease is still there but the people learn to live with it and manage it—it is called endemic.

Look at the 1918 flu or the Spanish flu—it killed 50 million to 100 million people before it disappeared- what remains of it is the more benign flue which is less fatal. Socially it also ended together with the end of World War 1—with people ready to move forward and leave this disease behind as its fatal effect wanes.

This Covid-19 may evolve into something new just as it has evolved into new variants. But just like the ordinary flu, we need to get vaccines or boosters as protection from new strains. As the new administration of President Biden announced for all Americans to get boosters 8 months after their initial vaccination—this Covid-19 can be effectively prevented once the initial vaccine wanes down when booster shots are administered.

The problem with third-world countries like the Philippines is, we are still far from achieving herd immunity since there are not enough vaccines to achieve this. What exacerbates the problem, is there are people who still refused to be vaccinated because of different reasons such as religious beliefs, fake news spreading like wildfire influencing greatly the vulnerable who easily believes certain lies, lack of proper knowledge, etc. There is also the need to increase the budget on health to place the health of the people as a priority agenda. Many countries spend less than 2 percent of their gross domestic product on health. It should be the priority of every nation to provide quality health care to its people and make it accessible to everybody (source: dated August 17, 2021 by William Haseltine).

What we are seeing now is that people are tired of waiting where this Covid-19 is heading to—there is no guarantee that it will not evolve into another variant. What every person can do now is to have himself protected so that others around him will not be infected by the disease in case he gets sick. With no human host for which the disease can transfer to because of vaccination—it will weaken itself.

Just like the flu before which was deadly and killed millions but later evolve to a benign or less deadly virus, Covid-19 will be living with us in the coming years with no one “silver bullet” to kill it as one writer says but will be weak enough to respond with the right vaccines. However, just like the regular flu, we might need to get the vaccines regularly after the previous vaccine wanes or better still a booster against this virus to make sure we are properly protected.

We can then look back in the future—just like the seasonal flu we have now—rarely remembering the initial destruction it brought and the fear that goes with it. However, the whole world should never forget the lessons that these pandemics brought to our lives. That the deadliest war is the one in which the enemy is an invisible one. And it has been proven by history that human inventions are inferior to this invisible enemy and the medical weapons and vaccines were just activated when the enemy strikes and many had fallen.

Wilma Miranda is the Chair of FINEX Media Affairs Committee, Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs, Board of Directors Member of KPS Outsourcing Inc.   The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.

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