In a New York Times opinion piece released earlier this week, three experts (two in immunology and one in epidemiology) answered commonly asked questions the news outlet has received. While there are a range of questions answered in the piece (and we recommend reading the whole article if you are interested), the most interesting takeaways are the expert’s predictions regarding COVID-19 in the future.
One reader mentions they feel like COVID is now similar to an annual flu strain which is a feeling that I’m sure many of us are beginning to get. However, Akiko Iwasaki, a Yale School of Medicine immunologist, points out that data shows COVID-19 still causes more hospitalisations and deaths than the flu does. Despite COVID-19 being prevalent throughout society now, we must continue to consider it - it’s not the annual flu.
Another reader writes in stating they feel as though contracting COVID-19 at this point is inevitable. Although they have not yet come down with COVID-19, they have witnessed some cautious individuals come down with it. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University, dismisses this thought by saying that catching COVID-19 is not inevitable.
With that being said, it comes down to a trade-off. We must individually determine how much we are willing to give up and our risk tolerance. While avoidance is the best method, we shouldn’t avoid everything as that simply isn’t sustainable or healthy. For that reason, it’s important to find a balance. Avoiding large gatherings and events may not be possible, but wearing a mask and protecting ourselves while attending is a good middle ground.
The final question posed to the experts is whether we will reach a point where we move on from having the virus be a concern in our daily lives. Nuzzo again answers this question and mentions that despite H1N1 no longer being a ‘worry’ or ‘concern’ still causes sickness every year. Similarly, COVID-19 will not disappear, but she does believe we will move on from the virus being a daily concern.
With that being said, as previously mentioned, there is a balance that we must individually consider when it comes to COVID-19 exposure. Staying away from high-risk environments (except where necessary) and wearing masks are great ways to achieve this balance.