Changes the world needs to make to live with COVID

With the omicron variant reducing, governments and decision-making bodies are starting to take action. More and more people are beginning to ask for a return to a normal life.

The need to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing.

Some countries are even planning to remove their previous restrictions to make way for a new life after the pandemic.

The UK, for instance, is removing its remaining public health measures, including mandatory self-isolation of COVID cases and free testing

COVID is oftentimes compared to flu, while COVID has been and is considered worse. COVID’s infection fatality rate and the proportion of people who die once they have caught it were initially about ten times more elevated than for flu.

Treatments, vaccines and previous infections have since brought the fatality rate down, but it is still almost two times as high as for flu and this still holds for omicron.

The inescapable truth is that unless the virus mutates to a milder form,  the “normal” life everyone craves returning to will be shorter and sicker on average than before.

Even though we are not likely to lose all insurance against severe illness and death, the kind of return to normal being attempted by many countries such as the UK, Denmark, and Norway will make many people face repeated COVID reinfections over the coming years.

A vast majority will try to cope, while some will die, and more will be left with long-lasting ill health.

A Lot of people who suffer from mild illness will still need time off work or their education, and as we have seen with omicron, the aggregate outcomes can be hugely disruptive.

How can we live post-COVID

The past year has resulted in a great advancement in public health.

There has been a dramatic reduction in the rate of deaths from the state of malnutrition, infectious diseases, environmental diseases, smoking and road traffic accidents etc

Communal solutions have been developed for problems, from the creation of vaccines to controls on pollution, passive smoking, unsafe driving, and other ills. There is nothing ordinary about upending decades of progress by simply just accepting a serious new disease like COVID without vigorously attempting to mitigate it.

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Here are some changes that can reduce the future impact of COVID:

  1. The outdoors would become pretty safe

It would make indoor air as safe as the outdoors possible. This will include a large investment in infrastructure to enhance ventilation, filter, and clean the air. This isn’t simple, but neither was giving rise to clean water and electricity for every home. We know how to do it and it will be effective against any future variant and any airborne disease.

  1. The need for vaccines is crucial. The world needs to be vaccinated as soon as possible to save lives and slow down the emergence of new variants of Covid-19. Governments also need to keep working towards vaccines that are longer lasting and more protective against new and existing variants.
  1. Acting sooner rather than later is important to contain outbreaks and help in the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 to other countries. So governments need to invest in global surveillance of new COVID variants and other new infectious diseases.
  1. Routine surveillance for severe infectious diseases such as flu and measles should be put in place to mitigate their effect. Countries need to add permanent surveillance of COVID infection rates to their existing programmes to keep track of how much COVID is circulating, where, and in which communities.
  1. Investing in health systems is urgently needed, particularly in winter seasons where the additional burden of COVID will be most acutely felt.
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