It seems as if we’ve been dealing with coronavirus for years. However, three short months ago, no one had even heard of COVID-19. Now, terms such as self-isolate, flatten the curve and social distancing are all common parlance. But do we know how coronavirus will end?
The Beginning, the Middle and the End of Coronavirus?
The beginning of coronavirus
To date, worldwide, there have been over 1 million cases of coronavirus and over 54,000 deaths. The United Nations says this is the biggest global emergency since WWII.
It is claimed that coronavirus started in a ‘wet market’ (a market that sells dead and live animals together) in Wuhan, China. A disease spreads rapidly in these types of conditions as the dead and live animals are densely packed. This makes hygiene extremely difficult to maintain and pandemics more likely.
All coronaviruses are viruses that cause disease in animals. Experts believe a bat carrying the COVID-19 virus infected some of the animals being sold in this wet market. This particular strain then made the jump to humans. It spreads via droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. These droplets then land on surfaces and remain, in some cases like metal, for up to 9 days.
We all know the rest of this grim story. The coronavirus has travelled around the world, infecting nearly every country. It has caused complete lockdowns, roads are silent, pollution is reducing and people are stockpiling and panic-buying.
We are now in the middle stages of the virus and still nowhere to knowing how it will end.
The Middle of Coronavirus
There were different reactions from the general public when the coronavirus first broke out. Some didn’t take it seriously and kept to their normal schedules. Others battened down their hatches and went on shopping sprees to stock up.
Now, everyone is aware of the risk to human health and governments across the world are taking drastic action to stop the spread. Shops that were a few weeks ago displaying empty shelves are gradually getting back to normal. People are, in the most part, self-isolating and adjusting to a new way of life.
So while the majority of us are simply riding out the storm and sticking to health guidelines, what are the experts saying with regards to a possible end to coronavirus?
How will coronavirus end?
Experts believe there are a number of scenarios that could herald the end of the coronavirus.
We have heard a lot about herd immunity in the past couple of weeks. Herd immunity is where a number of people contract the virus, recover and then become immune. This creates a mass of people with immunity to the virus. The virus then struggles to find hosts it can infect and it naturally dies out.
The problem is the sheer cost of human lives. COVID-19 is deadlier than flu and infects more people. Allowing the coronavirus to freely infect with no restrictions would leave millions dead and many with life-changing conditions.
In fact, the UK initially considered herd immunity but rejected the idea as the consequences became clear.
We could hold out for summer. Most coronaviruses tend to surface in the winter months and die out in the summer. This is because droplets react differently under hot and cold conditions.
A protective shell ‘houses‘ the virus. It is this shell that reacts with the environment. With COVID-19, the virus is protected by a fatty exterior. This is why washing with soap is so important because soap naturally dissolves this fatty exterior and the virus dies.
There are other factors that affect this fatty outer – heat and humidity.
“Much of the world is waiting anxiously to see what — if anything — the summer does to transmission in the Northern Hemisphere,” says Maia Majumder of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.
There are many that think the coronavirus will not end until we find a vaccine. Up until then, we will just have to manage the virus as best we can. Keeping schools and businesses closed for the time being. Restricting movement amongst the general public, and enforcing social distancing and self-isolation for the vulnerable.
However, it takes a long time to produce a vaccine. We are used to making flu vaccines, adjusting them to fit the latest outbreak, but we’ve never had a coronavirus outbreak before. So we are starting from the drawing board.
Moreover, even if we create a vaccine that works, we’d still have to manufacture millions of them. And that takes time.
What is more likely to happen is that we see an ebb and flow of the coronavirus. There’s been a lot of talk about ‘flattening the curve’ to stop the spread.
But it’s possible that once this curve is sufficiently flattened, life will go back to some semblance of normality. Restrictions will be lifted and then suddenly there’s another outbreak. Then, it is likely that social distancing will be enforced again, but just for the local area that is affected.
What many experts are saying is that this will be the new normal. Restrictions will be lifted once the spread is under control. But if the virus reappears, we go back to isolating.
How is coronavirus affecting the economy?
Shutdowns affect many types of businesses. Obviously, this has a major effect on the economy. So who will survive and will our economy change? Well, it all depends on how that particular country has dealt with the coronavirus. For instance:
If a country fails to halt the broad spread of the virus, then the healthcare system will collapse. The pandemic will continue to rise, leading to a prolonged downturn in the economy.
Prepared countries that show a rapid and strong response to the virus are going to control it within a few months. This means there will be some damage to the economy, but the trend will be for long-term growth.
Obviously, there are some industries that may never fully recover.
Worst hit industries
The coronavirus has hit the travel industry very hard. In some cases, airlines may have to file for bankruptcy. Car manufacturers are also struggling. There has been a 10% drop in sales since the outbreak. Closed for the foreseeable future are hotels, restaurants and many small businesses.
Who will be most affected by the coronavirus?
Experts predict it is the poor and people on low incomes that will suffer the most. They are more likely to have chronic health conditions anyway and have to manage on smaller incomes. Then there’s the effect on a nation’s mental health. Vulnerable people are told to have no contact at a time they most need a visit or a cuddle to reassure them.
Elderly people will face more loneliness as social distancing becomes the new normal. Racial attacks increase thanks to the virus being known as the ‘Chinese Virus’.
Already incidences of domestic violence and child abuse are rising as people struggle to maintain civil relationships stuck in the house with one another.
And who knows whether those who have contracted the virus will be welcomed back into their communities when this is all over?
Can any good come out of the coronavirus?
For the first time in many people’s lives, we are seeing remarkable acts of kindness. But also a recognition of the vulnerable and the elderly.
No longer is it deemed a badge of honour to go to work if you are sick. Neither is it a stigma to have to go on benefits. Parents are spending quality time with their kids. Communities are pulling together. Businesses are repurposing their equipment to make safety gear for hospitals.
Day in and day out we applaud the NHS for its sterling work for tackling the virus. So yes, this virus has led to a reawakening of what’s important in life and what is not.
No one can really know how the coronavirus will end, but perhaps we can take this time to help people wherever we are able to.
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