- We are already two years into the pandemic.
- The pandemic has infected over 225 million people by now.
- The pandemic is likely to continue into the next year as well.
As the world is battling its once-in-a-hundred-years deadly contagion in the form of COVID-19 pandemic, the people are eagerly awaiting its end. The question on the end of the pandemic is on the mind of many people.
But no one can give a definitive deadline on when the pandemic is going to depart for good. It could have been an easy guess in normal circumstances: the faster the vaccination drive, the faster we would see the end of the pandemic.
But then there are variables that are beyond human control and send every calculation for a toss. And when we talk about the variables, mutations play a crucial role in that. Had the virus not mutated into Delta variant across the globe, with most of the world’s population vaccinated by the year-end, we could have seen some kind of normalcy restored in the world.
The more the mutations crop up, the lesser the effectiveness of vaccines. There is clearly an inverse relationship between the two.
That said, we will have to wait for the virus to die its natural death – like what happened in the case of Spanish Flu a century ago. But the larger question is whether it will end or not?
Flu pandemics occur when populations are naive to a virus – that is, when the masses lack immunity. And by the time a pandemic virus becomes seasonal, much of the population has attained some immunity against it. Seasonal flu still causes a significant death toll globally, claiming roughly 650,000 lives per year.
But it seems, like Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the ongoing pandemic has high chances of becoming an endemic – that is, it is here to stay forever. Or, at least, that is what the experts say.
“I think this virus is here to stay with us and it will evolve like influenza pandemic viruses, it will evolve to become one of the other viruses that affect us,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Program, said last week.
No one knows if the pandemic is going to dissolve away forever or end up being an endemic. Meanwhile, it is going through the peak of third wave and more and more mutations are coming out. With three-fourths of this year already spent up, it is highly likely that we will have to live with the virus in 2022 as well.