Will it ever be the same after COVID-19?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ilayda Ceren SURUR and Ms. Begum COKMEZ, second-year medical students at Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey. They are affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

“When is this finally going to end?” is the question on everyone’s mind after nearly two years of living with the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as we want to go back to normal, it does not seem like it is going to happen anytime soon with public health experts stating that COVID-19 will never end as highly contagious strains keep surfacing. The reason why it will never end is because just like any other virus, SARS-CoV-2 has also become a part of our ecosystem and instead of trying to get rid of it we should learn how to live with it.

For as long as humans existed, there have been endemic diseases that occasionally cause outbreaks such as flu, malaria, and measles. It seems likely that COVID-19 is going to become one of those diseases that we categorize as endemic, which means it will continuously be present in our population. As for the vaccines, which seem like the only solution to even come close to ending this pandemic, even if we tried to create a herd immunity by trying to vaccinate a sufficient percentage of the population, there will still be people that won’t be willing to get vaccinated or can’t get vaccinated because of other pre-existing health conditions. Because of COVID-19’s property of getting transmitted through respiratory droplets and not showing any pathognomonic signs, it is a very contagious disease. However, like any other endemic disease, we can learn to live with it.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people thought that this period would be controlled in a very short amount of time. Because of this reason, they didn’t start to act immediately. However, after a short while, schools were suspended and all restaurants, shopping malls, hairdressers, and even some small corporations were closed. It was soon after that people realized that they should make greater alterations in many parts of their lives, which includes education, business, and their social lives. With most of education and businesses transferring from outside to everyone’s houses and social life remaining very dependent on social media, it seems like we have already adapted to the mandatory changes that this pandemic has brought to us. After living with the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly 2 years, neither this very contagious disease nor the lifestyle it brought changed, but people learned how to live with it.

In conclusion, there are still people that are trying to get used to the new lifestyle that came with the pandemic. People’s adaptation process changed depending on their age, financial situation, and social statuses. Humanity has faced many pandemics throughout history, and we have always found ways to readjust and normalize. Instead of going back to normal, we will keep creating a new normal and learn to live accordingly.

About the authors

Ilayda Ceren SURUR and Begum COKMEZ are second-year medical students at Istanbul Medipol University, Istanbul, Turkey. Ilayda’s biggest dream ever is to be able to rescue lives as a doctor. Getting closer to her dream step by step makes her jubilant. Begum has also had a great interest in the way the human body works since she was a kid, so her dream is to become a great physician in the future.

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