Is this meant to stay forever? Eight months into a pandemic

11/26/2020

How long do you think it will be until you can meet your sibling who is stuck in a foreign country and cannot come back home because of visa restrictions around the pandemic situation? How long do you think it will be until you will meet your friends and hug them - feel the warmth of human touch again? How long will it be till you can go to watch a movie with your lover and sit closely, hold hands? These things that we had taken for granted last year are an impossibility this year, and these and many more things make all of us ask one uniform question- when will the pandemic end?

Have you, too, made a list of things you want to do when this pandemic is over but cannot find a convenient Google search that will give a direction or a sense of timing to your plans? Uncertainty can get painful, and this year has been one painful journey when it comes to confusion and plans to fall apart.

We are almost at the end of the year, and even now, we have no fixed answer to that one pertinent, mind-wrecking question- when will the pandemic end? Such complex problems seldom have simple solutions, and that is where we end up feeling lost. There are various approaches, guesses, and perspectives at work when one tries to look at this question. In this article, we would be trying to solve this question by exploring some of the probabilities of how will the coronavirus end?

The pattern of disappearance and possibilities of a vaccine

One significant part of the answer to how the coronavirus pandemic will end is to understand how a pandemic usually ends. Analyzing that, we can say, that perhaps how Covid 19 will end won't be abrupt but rather be gradual and sporadic. Back in March, when we had no idea what was going on, I had wished that when the pandemic will be over and the lockdown will be lifted, people will meet and greet, and I will go on a bicycle ride and perhaps a swimming session later. Well, grasses grow, and plans fail.

The lockdown never ended but only transformed, and even after the lockdown officially ended, our lives remained under a metaphorical shield. There is a constant panic, a continuous need for protection and hygiene, and like it or not- this is here to stay. The lockdown has to be lifted because the economy cannot suffer further blows, but from the healthcare perspective, things are much worse now than it was back in March. People are desperately waiting for the vaccine. Some vaccines have even cleared a 90% success rate, but here is a thing about vaccines that have to be considered.

Smallpox is the only disease to be eradicated by a vaccine. For a virus that affects millions of populations, unfortunately, the vaccine also has to reach that many people for the pandemic to end, and that itself will take a very long time. Lack of significant structures in most countries, loopholes in administrative levels, and various other technical problems will further delay the process. Some scientists have even suggested that it will take years for most of the population to be vaccinated and eradicate the disease. Multiple theories indicate that the pandemic will become endemic, meaning it will slowly start being restricted into specific areas before disappearing eventually. Perhaps when enough people will attain herd immunity, that is when the pandemic will end - that is, if a wave doesn't reappear and the governments can manage its people.

Psychological exhaustion

So, recently, I had to travel to a few states in India, due to a few unavoidable circumstances. I took all safety precautions, wore all shields and masks but when I reached what happened to be the capital. I found out that many people were not wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. Even the recent spree of festivals in Bengal or at the Bihar election rally, people were nowhere maintaining social distancing. People are crowding buses, trains, and public spaces.

Although wearing masks is essential until "the vaccine comes out, "the concept of social distancing is rooted in a lot of privilege. In various interviews, poor people have opted to go out even in the pandemic and work because the fear of hunger is something, they are aware of, unlike the fear of some virus. They'd rather not die out of hunger, and that has always been their priority. Besides that, after staying at home for such a long-time, people have subconsciously given up being scared. They are exhausted and are desperately looking for respite.

With most coronavirus cases being cured at home, people are starting to get incautious and now think that they will deal with whatever happens when it does. Moreover, when I was in Jharkhand last month, nobody was wearing a mask or maintaining social distancing- as if we are not living amidst a pandemic at all! So, maybe, the answer to your question is that when the pandemic end is that it never existed if we go by the way some people are behaving, isn't it?

Immunity Building

After layers of bad news, there might be a ray of hope, after all. The pandemic as we have established is here to stay, but the panic, the deaths, the overflowing hospitals do not need to be. Yes, the vaccine can be a total game-changer in this, but as discussed, that too will take a lot of time to reach the prospective people.

In that scenario, what can us as individuals do? Any disease on Earth is a battle of our immunity system against the foreign element that attacks our body. Therefore, in a pandemic with no designated cure, our immunity system is the most precious. So, we must, at all cost, take care of it, now more than ever. Our collective aim as a world should be to eat healthily, exercise, maintain hygiene, and then only can we hope to end this pandemic.

There is probably no answer to how the pandemic will end. There is a lot of vagueness ruling our lives right now, but all we can do is hope, pray, and wish the best for this ailing world and its people. At the end of the day, when you are tired of staying inside your home for days at an end and think about when the pandemic will end so that you can do whatever you wish you could right now, just say a quiet prayer and hope that this or anything like this will not stay for long.