The COVID=19 virus should have and end-point. Just as nothing good lasts forever, we can assume nothing bad lasts forever, although when you’re in the middle of it, sometimes it feels like forever.
As of this writing, the coronavirus is actually in its beginning stages. You may have heard some experts refer to this virus as the COVID-19 virus, which is actually more specific to this disease. There are more than one type of coronavirus, and this is one of them. For this article, the names may be used interchangeably (just as they are in the current press).
A disease does not have to infect the entire planet to be considered a pandemic. A pandemic is usually used in the context of a disease that spreads and covers very large areas or territories, and has the unfortunate characteristic of being easily spread from human to human. In basic terms, the World Health Organization defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease.
Calling a disease a pandemic is not an indication of the severity of the disease – the word is more of an indication of the virus covering a large region while spreading quickly.
Although WHO has not officially declared the virus spread as an pandemic, if you interview experts one-on-one you will find they mostly agree that this coronavirus is a pandemic. On the other side of the coin, by definition, the common cold is one of the coronaviruses, and no one is in a panic about that. You might say that the original virus has “settled down” into its current form as the common cold, which goes around and around during flu and cold season.
There are two other viruses that have crossed over from animals to humans (which is how these coronaviruses originate). After SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) spread to many countries and was snuffed out after approximately 8,000 cases and close to 800 deaths. It too was spread from person-to-person.
Another coronavirus, first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 was MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and it also spread to other countries including the United States. About three out of four people who developed the illness have died. It’s important to note that only two people in the United States were ever diagnosed with MERS and it is still being monitored by the CDC (Center for Disease Control).
The word” infodemic” has arisen to describe the lack of accurate information regarding COVID-19 – what it is, how it spreads, how to safeguard against it, and so on. Anytime a new virus is discovered it is only natural that there are more questions than answers. Because we are more at the beginning of the spread of this coronavirus than the end, more information is coming out each and every day.
If someone could develop an algorithm that could accurately predict when a pandemic will end, they should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, at a minimum. There is no such person, but some medical professionals with experience can – and do – provide some insights into this.
I personally spoke to a doctor who was on the task force for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). He said that generally speaking, a virus such as this begins to die out after 60% of the population has encountered it (which doesn’t mean they died from it, because remember there are also mild cases). After a time, the spread begins to calm down because many people won’t contract the virus for a second time. Less people infected equals less chance for it to spread, and eventually it dies out.
Of course, there are no guarantees, but there is hope that COVID-19 will have an end-point.
We just hope it’s sooner rather than later.