The Covid pandemic – what happens next?

At the time of writing this article the Government has announced several changes to the Covid-19 regulations as we approach Spring and the two-year anniversary of the pandemic.

While it’s undoubtedly a good thing that England and the rest of the UK can get back to some kind of normal. It’s also natural that some people may feel overwhelmed by all these changes and anxious that Covid is still circulating, despite the new found freedoms.

Of course, these people would be right. Covid is still here.

What is happening now is we are moving from a pandemic to an endemic. Which means that at some point soon, the amount of people who have been vaccinated or have caught Covid and recovered – will be so high that a natural immunity will start to build in the population.

Is this the end?

We only need to look around the world to see that Covid is still creating many issues for different countries.

In New Zealand for example they have been forced to introduce more stringent social distancing measures than ever in recent times due to outbreaks.

As the Omicron variant showed, Covid can also mutate and form new strains of differing danger. So our scientists will be working as hard as ever to identify and manage them when they arise.

Just as the common cold never “ends”, neither will Covid. It is a new virus that will stay in the world. But our collective response to it will get easier with time.

So are we living with Covid then?

Since the beginning of the pandemic the country’s immunity - largely built up by vaccination, but also topped up by infection – has changed and made all the difference.

As ONS (Office of National Statistics) data shows, before the vaccine programme was rolled out, in the middle of the deadly winter wave of 2020, antibody levels were very low, particularly in the older age groups. But the situation now is completely different. Antibodies are present in at least 97% of people across all age groups over the age of 16.

This means that the way the virus affects people, especially those needing hospital treatment, is now much reduced. Meaning that many of the regulations that helped keep us safe over the past two years can now be removed or reduced.

Just as we live with the seasonal flu, coughs and colds. Or manage other potentially dangerous viruses like measles and mumps with vaccines, society is at a point where it can live with Covid with fewer restrictions.

Coping with Covid anxiety:

Of course I can understand anybody who has concerns about living with Covid in the population.

If you feel safer or more confident wearing a mask, keeping social distanced, or using hand sanitiser when you are out and about – then by all means do continue. Good hygiene has always been important. The pandemic has certainly made everyone more aware of how virulent and easy to catch some viruses are.

If people are worried I would urge them to keep reading the mainstream news that they trust for up to date information. Mainstream news outlets often summarise the longer parliamentary briefings or scientific data into the points that you need to know.

Think positively too about the times ahead.

Summer is coming, we really are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And think how far we have come from the early days when you weren’t allowed to do so many things. Now we can, so let’s enjoy them safely.

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