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Covid: 8 changes the world needs to make to learn to live with the coronavirus

Covid: 8 changes the world needs to make to learn to live with the coronavirus

Covid: 8 changes the world needs to make to learn to live with the coronavirus

More and more people are calling for a return to normalcy, and with omicron declining, governments are beginning to act.

The UK, for example, is removing its remaining public health measures, including mandatory self-isolation for Covid-19 cases and free testing.

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

We have added a major new disease to our population.

Covid-19 is often compared to the flu, as if adding a flu-equivalent burden to a population is okay (it’s not). In fact, covid-19 has been and continues to be worse.

The mortality rate from covid-19 infection, the proportion of people who die once they contract it, was at the start of the pandemic about 10 times higher than that of the flu.

Since then, treatments, vaccinations, and previous infections have lowered the death rate, but still it is almost double that of the flu, and yes, this is still valid for omicron.

In addition, the fact that covid-19 is much more transmissible worsens its impact.

It also has a similar or worse long-term effect on heart, lung, and mental health than other respiratory illnesses, and a higher rate of long-term symptoms.

A world that no longer exists

Vaccines have been incredibly effective in reducing serious illness and death, but they are not perfect.

The new variants have strained vaccine defenses, with protection against infection and, to a lesser extent, serious disease, diminishing after a few months.

While it is unlikely that we will lose all protection against serious illness and death, the kind of return to normality being attempted in countries like the UK, Denmark and Norway will see many people facing repeated Covid-19 infections in the coming years. years.

erasing covid

The vast majority will manage, but some will die and more will be left with lasting health problems.

Many people with minor illnesses will still need to take time off work or school, and as we’ve seen with omicron, the added effects can be very detrimental.

In short, the world before 2020 no longer exists; we may want it, but it just doesn’t exist.

post covid life

In the last 150 years there have been great improvements in public health, with dramatic reductions in deaths from malnutrition, infectious diseases, environmental diseases, smoking and traffic accidents, to name a few.

For communal problems we have developed communal solutions, from vaccinations to pollution controls, passive smoking, unsafe driving and other ills.

Boy showing proof that he is vaccinated

There is nothing normal about turning decades of progress upside down simply by accepting a serious new disease like covid-19 without actively trying to mitigate it.

The good news is that we can mitigate it. We can accept that the world has changed and make adaptations based on what we have learned in the last two years.

Here are eight key changes that can reduce the future impact of covid-19:

1. Being outdoors is very safeso let’s make the air inside look as much like the air outside as possible.

That implies a large investment in infrastructure to improve ventilation and filter and clean the air.

Boy enjoying the outdoors

It is not easy, but neither was it easy to bring clean water and electricity to all homes.

We know how to do it and it will be effective against any future variants and any airborne disease.

2. Vaccines are still crucial.

We need to vaccinate the world as soon as possible to save lives and stop the appearance of new variants.

We must also continue working to obtain vaccines whose protection lasts longer and against more variants.

3. We have learned that acting as soon as possible is crucial to contain outbreaks and prevent spread to other countries.

hand with vaccine

Therefore, we must invest in global surveillance of new variants of the coronavirus and other new infectious diseases.

4. Most countries already have routine surveillance for serious infectious diseases (such as influenza and measles) and plans to mitigate their impact.

Countries should add ongoing surveillance of COVID-19 infection rates to existing programs to track how much COVID-19 is circulating, where, and in which communities.

5. We still know very little about the long-term impact of covid-19even though we know it can cause lasting organ damage and lead to long-term illness.

We need to invest in understanding, preventing and treating that impact.

6. Many health systems were already in trouble before covid hit and, since then, the pandemic has further reduced their resilience.

Mature person with oxygen mask

Investment in health systems is urgently needed, particularly in the winter seasons, when the additional burden of covid-19 will be felt most intensely.

7. The covid has hit the most disadvantaged the hardest.

Those who can least afford to self-isolate are also more likely to work outside the home, use public transportation and live in overcrowded housing, all risk factors for contracting the virus.

The higher exposure is combined with lower vaccination rates and poorer health among disadvantaged groups, leading to worse outcomes if they become infected.

Countries must invest more in reducing inequalities: in health, housing, workplaces, sick pay, and education.

That will make us all more resilient to future outbreaks and reduce ill health and death, not just from covid-19, but from everything else.

sick in bed

8. Finally, there will still be waves of covid-19 in the future; the above will simply reduce its frequency and scale.

We need to have a plan to deal with this.

Excellent national surveillance systems will help quickly identify an outbreak and understand how much damage it is causing and how much immunity is being evaded, all of which will help tailor an appropriate temporary response.

A response could, for example, include stepped up testing, the reintroduction of face masks, and working from home where possible.

The masks will go away and come back.

All of these plans should allow us to avoid prolonged and widespread lockdowns.

Refusing to learn to live with covid-19 by pretending that the old normal exists increases the risk of future quarantines.

We need to move past the denial and angry stages of grief and accept that the world is different now.

So we can take control and build a way of life that is designed to live with the virus in a that allows us all, including the clinically vulnerable, to lead freer and healthier lives.

* Christina Pagel is Professor of Operations Research, Director of the Clinical Operations Research Unit at UCL. This note originally appeared on The Conversation and is published here under a Creative Commons license..

Read the original article here.

Source: Elcomercio

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