How much longer in COVID-19? The most frequently asked question in two years

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Patrycja Jelonek, a twenty-one-year-old medical student at Medical University in Łódź, Poland. She is 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.

In March 2020 the world has just stopped. The pandemic was utterly unpredictable and nobody expected what obstacles we would have to overcome. When I’m writing this article it has been 648 days since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Poland. We’re in the middle of the fourth wave, while countries like Japan are preparing for the next one. It may bring only one question – will it ever end? Even though it’s hard to believe, the answer is definitely yes.

Paradoxically, the pandemic will not end when the virus disappears. It isn’t feasible to get rid of the Covid-19 completely, it’ll always be somewhere. This is not the first time the world has struggled with an unequal adversary. Three components are crucial in combating infectious diseases: source eradication, crossing the path of spreading the disease, and increasing the immunity of the population. Let’s take a closer look at it.

In the pandemic of Covid-19, the first and the second point are connected. Undoubtedly, SARS-CoV-2 is aroused naturally through a series of mutations. There is a theory that it derives from bats and pangolins and was transferred to a human. Now the transmission is from person to person and this deduction leads us to one, simple solution – the isolation. It is the only entirely reliable way to stop the spread of the virus.

Quarantine has been applied from the beginning. But now, after almost two years, we do not use it as often as we should. In Poland, vaccinated people are not forced to go to quarantine after contact with an ill person. Being vaccinated does not protect us from getting sick. Such ill-considered regulations only create an opportunity to spread the infection. Furthermore, we do not pay so much attention to wearing masks – in public transport or in a shopping mall we can always see people who ignore the law and risk the health of others. As I said, the virus is an unequal adversary – to win with it we ought to use the most proven weapon.

We have a strong ace up our sleeve – the Covid-19 vaccine. More and more people are deciding to take it and this is our brightest light in a tunnel. However, it is still not enough. Due to increasing problems with ubiquitous shortages in staff and medical equipment, the governments should put more effort into prevention and oblige people to vaccinate. Even though the containment also enables the acquisition of immunity, it is at a higher risk of death and serious, post-infection complications.

The simplest way to answer the title question is when we get the population resistance. As you can see it is not as easy as it sounds. However, we have the tools and ability to achieve it in a shorter time than we expect. Just take the pandemic as seriously as you did at the beginning and get vaccinated if you haven’t already.

About the author

Patrycja Jelonek is a twenty-one-year-old medical student at Medical University in Łódź, Poland. She’s in her second year and has just started her adventure with science and social activity. She belongs to team SCOPH and coordinates two projects in the IFMSA. As she says, her mission is to spread the knowledge about the prevention of eating disorders and mental problems, especially among youth. In her spare time, she’s an enthusiast of fitness and crime literature.

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