- Dec 8, 2013
- Reaction score
COVID may never fully disappear. Here's how we live with it.
Wed, September 15, 2021, 3:36 PM
With the United States in the midst of a surge of coronavirus cases driven by the Delta variant and scientists concerned that colder weather may bring yet another spike in infections in the fall, it can be easy to lose sight of the reality that, eventually, the pandemic will end.
The end of the pandemic does not mean that COVID-19 will go away entirely, however. Most scientists have come to believe that the idea of a “COVID zero” future is unrealistic. Only one infectious disease among humans, smallpox, has ever been fully eradicated, and that didn’t happen until nearly 200 years after the first smallpox vaccine was invented.
All other diseases become endemic, a term that describes a state in which the threat gradually decreases until the disease becomes a regular part of life, like the flu — which kills up to 60,000 people a year. In this scenario, there would still be a baseline of COVID-19 infections at any given time and occasional larger outbreaks, but immunity from vaccines and infections would lower overall risk enough that large-scale mitigation measures like masking and lockdowns won’t be seen as necessary.
The pandemic will eventually end, but reaching a "new normal" will mean deciding how to manage the lingering threat of the coronavirus for years to come.
And here we are. When will we be escorted to the concentration camps?