COVID-19: more than a pandemic 

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mariana Santos Alencastro Figueiredo and Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeir, two three year medical students from  Universidade Tiradentes, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. 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 writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


The year 2020 was marked by perhaps the worst moment in the world in recent times. A virus with immense devastation has locked us at home, brought great suffering to the entire population and a lot of heavy and shocking work for health professionals. Covid-19 showed no social class, and soon affected from the poorest to the richest, from countries with poor public health to countries with reference public health. Years later, the vaccine is doing a great job, managing to contain the advance of the disease, if it has approved remedies for the treatment of covid, but everything that came with the pandemic is still far from over. Today, with the result of almost 7 million deaths worldwide, this disease, which is not yet over, has left sequelae beyond the scope of health. 

With the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several impacts on health and society in general were expected. The virus is not gone yet, but we can already see the consequences of the huge pause that the world had to give to protect itself. Hunger, inequality, unemployment. According to the UN, by 2020 hunger reached about 9.9% of the world’s population, which was 8.4% in the previous year. Amid the need to stay at home and divert our focus to health promotion and prevention of the spread of COVID-19, some important points of society ended up losing aid that was previously scarce as well as the promotion of culture with shows, cinema, theater that needed to be stopped as an attempt to contain the spread of the virus. Now, with short and slow steps, the return to “normal” shows the remaining deficits of times so difficult that everyone has gone through. 

It is also worth mentioning that the social impacts generated by the pandemic have further worsened the health situation around the world, especially with regard to mental health. In addition to the neurological sequelae of the virus, the social isolation, the feeling of frequent mourning and the uncertainty that surrounded the population eventually led to an overall increase in cases of depression and anxiety, especially among young people and the elderly. According to a WHO report, there has been an increase of about 25% in cases of depression and anxiety around the world; in addition, it is estimated that the risk of developing depression remains high up to 1 year after Infection by Sars-CoV-2, which shows that the social panorama is also an aggravating factor in the pandemic. 

Finally, it is clear how much progress we have made in the fight against the virus in these 2 years of struggle, but it is still necessary to deepen the discussion about the consequences and sequelae left by this turbulent period inside and outside the human organism. From this analysis, which, after all, reflects the concept of health and well-being, it will be possible to advance even more in the care of a population that continues to suffer from the impacts of these atypical years.

References

1- World Bank Group. Impactos da COVID-19 no Brasil: Evidências sobre pessoas com deficiência durante a pandemia [Internet]. World Bank. World Bank Group; 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.worldbank.org/pt/country/brazil/brief/impactos-da-covid19-no-brasil-evidencias-sobre-pessoas-com-deficiencia-durante-a-pandemia 

2-Impactos sociais, econômicos, culturais e políticos da pandemia [Internet]. Fiocruz. 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 27]. Available from: https://portal.fiocruz.br/impactos-sociais-economicos-culturais-e-politicos-da-pandemia 

3-SOFI 2021: Relatório da ONU destaca os impactos da pandemia no aumento da fome no mundo – OPAS/OMS | Organização Pan-Americana da Saúde [Internet]. Paho.org. 2021 [cited 2022 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.paho.org/pt/noticias/12-7-2021-sofi-2021-relatorio-da-onu-destaca-os-impactos-da-pandemia-no-aumento-da-fome-no 

4- Pandemia de COVID-19 desencadeia aumento de 25% na prevalência de ansiedade e depressão em todo o mundo – OPAS/OMS | Organização Pan-Americana da Saúde [Internet]. Paho.org. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 27]. Available from: https://www.paho.org/pt/noticias/2-3-2022-pandemia-covid-19-desencadeia-aumento-25-na-prevalencia-ansiedade-e-depressao-em 

About the authors

Ms. Mariana Santos Alencastro Figueiredo and Ana Beatriz Silva Ribeiro are three year medical students from  Universidade Tiradentes, Aracaju-SE, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting.

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