Are We Only Halfway Through This Pandemic?

Our collective patience has run very thin, most of us feel like we are “over it” regarding the pandemic. So this most recent information from the World Health Organization (WHO) comes with a massive sigh of disbelief. 

The leading envoy at WHO on Monday said that globally we are only at the halfway point of the pandemic. 

The worldwide battle with COVID-19 has begun its third year, therefore this word from David Nabarro, WHO’s special envoy, means that we will be in this fight until 2024 before it ends. 

David Nabarro gave an interview with Sky News. He talked about what people are seeing from around the world and reported to the World Health Organization. Global experts are indicating that this is still a very dangerous virus, especially for people who have not been vaccinated and who’ve not been exposed to it before. He said that the end is in sight, but no one knows just how long it will take to get to the end. It is still uncertain what it is going to take to get there and what difficulties we will face on the pathway. He said these are the kind of questions that no one can answer at this point because of the challenges that the virus continues to bring and the surprises that come in the pandemic’s wake. 

As Nabarro continued, he said, “It’s as though we’re just passing the halfway mark in a marathon and we can see that yes, there is an end and fast runners are getting through ahead of us. But we’ve still got a long, long way to trudge and it’s going to be tough.”

The envoy to WHO warned officials in the government and healthcare not to compare COVID-19 to the flu. This is a mistake he believes that Great Britain has made. Nabarro believes that this is irresponsible because it implies that the virus has suddenly gotten much weaker in its current strain. 

Nabarro told Sky News that the virus “can also mutate and form variants and we’ve seen several but we know there are more not far away. So quite honestly, we are not saying that this should be considered to be like flu or indeed like anything else — it’s a new virus, and we must go on treating it as though it is full of surprises, very nasty, and rather cunning.”

Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary for the United Kingdom, said that due to the falling case numbers and the relatively low hospitalization rates, we should just learn how to live with COVID-19 in the same way that we live with the flu. But Nabarro questions such comments and wonders what people who say things like this know that the leadership of WHO doesn’t know. He maintains that governments have to set the direction for the people and not shy away from their responsibility. Those in positions of leadership should not suggest to people that the data has suddenly changed or the virus has suddenly gotten much weaker. 

He is asking every world leader to do their job and help people stay focused on the work to keep the virus at bay. He wants leaders to help people prevent infection if at all possible, and make sure that we are all well prepared to deal with the next surges that are to come. 

Linda Spaulding is an infection prevention consultant and the founder of InCo and Associates International. She is also a member of Infection Control Today’s Editorial Advisory Board. She predicts that this will be the longest pandemic in history and it will be driven by people who just don’t want to understand or don’t want to know what is happening.

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