First identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, coronavirus was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in January 2020, and a pandemic in March 2020. This virus put the world at a standstill (and many parts of the world still are) for about a year.
However, the good news is that coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as it is contractable. In other words, it is easier to contract coronavirus than to die from it. Though coronavirus disease has killed 2.06 million people, the fatality rate still stands at 2.1% since there has been 53.1 million recoveries from 96.2 million cases worldwide. In fact, though coronavirus was the most feared cause of death in the world, it was only the 49th cause of death in China for the entire 2020.
Now the worldwide concern of many is this; when will it all end? Supposedly, many are even beginning to think that it will be like this forever and cause permanent changes in our lifestyle. Are we going to be forever wearing masks as part of our fashion and are alcoholic-beverage factories going to start producing drinkable sanitizers? Let’s jump right in!
Can Isolation Solve the Problem?
There is a difference between isolation and quarantine. Isolation is separating a person or a group of people known to have contracted a communicable disease. Quaratine, on the other hand, is separating a person or a group of people who have been exposed to an infectious person. One fundamental feature of a virus is that it can dwell in your body like it’s not an alien organism and reactivate long after. For instance, people with HIV will never know they have HIV and symptoms will never show up until after a long period.
Thus, there is longevity of time between when you contract a virus and when your body finally identifies the virus and informs you via a symptom. 80% of coronavirus spreads from people who don’t know they are sick. Since it is increasingly difficult to have everyone tested, not knowing who has the virus makes it difficult to know who to isolate. Everyone totally isolating themselves from everyone else is almost near impossible. It makes sense to isolate those who have the virus. Yet, since it’s difficult to identify who has it in order to isolate them, quarantining simply fails. By the time we contact-trace you, you have hugged and kissed about 5 people already.
What about self-quarantine? As social beings born with inherent need for companionship and a sense of belonging, self-quarantine is a joke. Unless you’re depressed or have OCD, a day never goes by without touching someone, being touched by someone, touching your face and/or touching surfaces that could potentially carry the virus.
Can Vaccine solve the Problem?
Vaccines are not cures. There are no cures for any form of viruses, and coronavirus is no exception. In fact, vaccines are imitation infections. There are various ways they go about it. Your body is either given subunits of the entire virus, a weeker version of the full virus, toxins that kill the virus and a few more other ways. Once the vaccine, an imitation infection, is inserted into the body, the immune system fights it. When you recover, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future.
The reason why coronavirus sent a shocking wave throughout the world was because it was a novel virus, a new disease altogether. New diseases where many of the population haven’t been exposed to and therefore have no antibodies are likely to be transmitted faster. A disease is easy to fight off once your body has already developed antibodies against it. Once a vaccine is found, it is going to take 18 months for everyone in the world who have never contracted it to be vaccinated. However, nature can create its own vaccine;
So What Would?
Earlier in the pandemic, some governments considered allowing herd immunity to develop on its own, without a vaccine, by letting the virus spread through their populations. In its wake, the coronavirus would have left millions of recovered people with antibodies — but a trail of deaths would have followed, too. Experts warned against this path, yet that is what many governments allowed to happen when they went loose on enforcing social distancing.
Individuals could gain immunity to the new coronavirus if they develop antibodies; that can happen through vaccination, or after they get infected and recover. If enough people become immune, that can confer “herd immunity” to an entire population. This protects even people who aren’t immune, because so many others are immune that they prevent the virus from spreading within a community. Herd immunity would effectively end the coronavirus pandemic.
So that is how coronavirus will be long forgotten in a few years to come. We are not going to be wearing masks forever. Coronavirus came to meet many air-borne diseases and yet, we never wore masks. I’m not saying that the world will suddenly record 0 new cases of coronavirus. It will remain an epidemic after a while and still record new cases. All I’m saying is that its transmission rate will drop drastically.