The End of the Pandemic?

The End of the Pandemic?

Aidan Clarke, Writer

Over the past two years everyone has been on an emotional rollercoaster; we hear the pandemic will end, then a new variant shows up, the world falls apart, and then we hear the pandemic will end again. COVID has now killed more than 900,000 Americans, and it can feel like the end is nowhere in sight. However this pandemic can end if the virus becomes endemic. When a disease becomes endemic it stays around forever, but the rate of infection stabilizes at a constant level. Endemic diseases we have now include all the different types of flus and colds; Covid-19 could become another endemic disease.

This is not the case today. Covid cases have been going up and down, spiking and subsiding with each new variant, most recently with Omicron. What is promising about the Omicron variant is that, although it is much more contagious than any previous strand of Covid, it is less harmful, less likely to kill or hospitalize those infected with it. That is a positive step and if more variants like that become dominant it could help push the virus into an endemic stage.

But what is most important is vaccines and making them available to everyone. 11 billion vaccines have been produced so far. If current production trends continue, there will be enough vaccines for the whole world. Currently, the companies producing the Covid vaccines are selling them to the highest bidder, leading to wealthier countries hoarding most vaccines while poorer countries get fewer of them or none at all. According to StatNews the countries of the European Union and the G7 will have 1.39 billion surplus vaccines by the end of the first quarter of 2022, meanwhile in Nigeria only 7% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as observed by OWID. Without access to vaccines, new variants are able to develop more easily in these countries, including ones that are vaccine-resistant, that then spread to the higher vaccinated countries. This is exactly what happened with the Omicron variant.

In order to prevent new dangerous variants from emerging, the vaccine patents should be lifted, allowing the whole world access to them. Even with access to Covid-19 vaccines however, there is still the problem of vaccine hesitancy, at the end of the day, some people are not going to be convinced to take the vaccine, but there are those who can be swayed, and the government should be doing whatever it can to get everyone, including mandating that people in public spaces be vaccinated.