As the spread of the omicron variant of COVID is reduced, many people are asking to return to normal. The government began to act. The UK, for example, removed its remaining public health measures, including mandatory self-isolation of COVID cases and free testing.

However, the unavoidable truth is – unless the virus mutates to a milder form – the “normal” lives we lead will be shorter and more painful than ever.

Humans have added a significant new disease amidst the world’s population. COVID is often compared to the flu, as if adding a flu-equivalent burden to the population is fine (of course not). In fact, COVID has been and remains worse . The death rate from COVID infection – the proportion of people who die once they catch it – was initially about ten times higher than the flu.

Previous COVID treatments, vaccines and infections have lowered the death rate, but it’s still nearly twice as high as the flu. Yes, this is still true for omicron.

The impact is then exacerbated because COVID is much more easily transmitted. It also has similar or worse long-term effects on the heart , lungs and mental health than other respiratory diseases. The rate of long-term symptoms or known as long COVID is also higher.

Vaccines are highly effective in reducing disease severity and mortality, but they are not perfect. The new variant has tested vaccine defenses. His defenses against infection – especially against less severe symptoms – also decrease after a few months.

While only some of us are protected from the severity of symptoms and death, efforts to return to normal in the UK, Denmark and Norway will still leave many people facing repeated COVID-19 infections over the next few years.

Most would probably survive, but a few others would die. More people will be in poor health for a long time.

Infected people with mild symptoms still need time off from work or sick leave. As we’ve seen with omicron, the effects of having so many people absent from work or school due to illness can be very disturbing .

In short, there will be no more world before 2020. We may want it, but it will not return.

How to live after COVID

Over the past 150 years, public health has developed rapidly. The death rate due to malnutrition, infectious diseases, environmental diseases, smoking, and traffic accidents has been much reduced.

For communal problems, we have developed solutions. Ranging from vaccines to pollution control, secondhand smoking, dangerous driving behavior, and other diseases.

It is strange that we would even be willing to reverse all that progress by accepting a serious new disease like COVID without actively trying to reduce it.

Spreading COVID vaccine coverage around the world and increasing surveillance is critical. Narendra Shrestha/EPA-EFE

The good news is, we can reduce it. We have to accept that world conditions have changed with adaptation steps based on what we have learned from the last two years. Here are eight key changes that could reduce the future impact of COVID:

1. Outdoors are quite safe. Let’s make the indoor air the same as outdoors. It takes big capital so that our infrastructure has proper ventilation, filtration, air cleaning. This is not a simple matter, but it is also not as complicated as delivering clean water and distributing electricity to homes. We know how to do it and it will be effective against future variants and any airborne disease.

2. Vaccines remain important. We need to vaccinate the world as soon as possible to save lives and slow the emergence of new variants. We must also continue to work towards vaccines that are more durable and resistant to more variants.

3. We have learned that acting sooner rather than later is essential to contain the outbreak and prevent it from spreading to other countries. So we need to invest in global-scale monitoring for new COVID variants and other new infectious diseases.

4. Many countries have routine surveillance mechanisms in place for communicable diseases (such as flu and measles ) and plans to mitigate their effects. Countries need to add COVID to their existing routine surveillance programs. The goal is to track the spread of COVID transmission, and in which communities.

5. We still know too little about the long-term effects of COVID. We do know that this disease is at risk of causing long-term and long -term organ damage . We need to work harder to understand, prevent and deal with these impacts.

6. Many health systems were struggling before COVID struck, and since then their resilience has been eroded by the pandemic. Investment in health systems is urgently needed, especially in winter where the added burden of COVID will be felt.

7. COVID has struck so hard on the most vulnerable people . Those unable to self-isolate are also more likely to work outside the home, use public transport and live in overcrowded housing – all risk factors for catching the virus. Increased exposure, coupled with lower vaccination rates and poorer health among disadvantaged groups, will lead to poorer outcomes.if infected. Countries need to invest more in reducing inequality: in health, housing, workplaces, sick pay and education. This will make us all better prepared for future outbreaks, deteriorating health conditions, and death.

8. Lastly, there will still be waves of COVID infections in the future . The above will only reduce the frequency and scale. We need to have a plan to deal with it. An excellent national surveillance system will speed up identification, and understanding how much disease is caused and immunity is avoided. All of which will increase the accuracy of the response, for example, by increasing detection, requiring the wearing of masks, and working from home when necessary.

Such a plan should allow us to avoid long and widespread lockdowns . The refusal to learn to live with COVID under the pretense of acknowledging the ‘old normal’ is the biggest risk in allowing the lockdown to be re-imposed.

We need to move on from the stage of rejection, and anger, sadness. We have to accept that today’s world is different. After that, we can take the helm to design ways of life that are more resistant to viruses while enabling all of us – including the clinically vulnerable – to lead freer and healthier lives.

Delayed justice turns meaningless: HC CJ Bindal

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