Coronavirus might become an endemic disease, WHO has stated! From an epidemic originating from China to global pandemic, the novel Coronavirus has impacted people on a massive scale.
Coronavirus might become an endemic disease, WHO has stated! From an epidemic originating from China to global pandemic, the novel Coronavirus has impacted people on a massive scale. There is no clear end that can be seen for this contagious viral disease as the numbers are increasing across the globe. The number of cases have crossed 4.4 million across the world wherein the lives of around 3 lakh people succumbed to it. With medicines for treatment, vaccines still under stages of development, it is feared that now the Coronavirus pandemic is much likely to become endemic. Dr Mike Ryan, emergencies director at the World Health Organisation in a recent press conference mentioned that the COVID-19 infection may never go away and has a possibility of becoming “just another endemic virus in our communities.” He further said that it will take massive efforts to curb the transmission of Coronavirus. Having said this, it is crucial to first understand what exactly is an endemic disease and what common examples we can cite from among endemic diseases that the world is familiar with, particularly in the Indian context.
What does endemic mean?
The definition provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that whenever a disease is present constantly among a large number of people, it can be called an endemic. For example, endemic diseases like malaria and chickenpox, despite the presence of vaccines, still exist and there are some number of cases registered every year across the countries.
Indications of Coronavirus becoming an endemic
Many studies, like a study by researchers in the University of Connecticut, or a study that was published in Science or the one by the US Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) indicate that there will be waves of the Coronavirus pandemic. This means even if a place is witnessing decline in number of cases or has flattened out its COVID-19 curve, the cases are likely to return after some time. Pandemic is expected to peak again in winters in some areas. Therefore, it can take a long time (maybe years) before the Coronavirus is completely eliminated.
Sociopolitical, behavioural changes that come with endemic
Once a disease becomes endemic, there are many sociopolitical and behavioural changes that are witnessed in an area. Citing a report in journal Science, the IE reported that when an epidemic becomes endemic, there is a major shift in responsibility (for protection) that shifts from the government to individuals. Simply put, it is the the citizens who will then have to take responsibility for managing risk from disease/ prevention and seeking medical attention and make some changes in their behaviour like maintaining hand hygiene and wearing masks.
Apart from this, the report highlighted that the sociopolitical response to the novel Coronavirus is likely to change as well. If declared endemic, the investments being made to curb the transmission of the deadly virus will become institutionalised.
Indian perspective of tackling Coronavirus going forward
In India, where more than 80,000 people have been confirmed for COVID-19 infection, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the 4th phase of lockdown across the country in order to curb the transmission of Coronavirus. With strict guidelines, in the first phase to eventually easing the guidelines in next phases, Modi announced that now is the time when people have to start living with the viral outbreak and move ahead in their lives. Going forward, with resumption of work in service and industrial sectors, the guidelines issued by the government majorly focus on measures that can be taken by the companies and people to ensure that there is reduction in Coronavirus transmission.