The coronavirus was first recorded in Accra, around March 2020, when two persons had travelled out of the country and returned with the virus. Since then, the country has recorded daily cases of infections, as well as some deaths from complications of the virus. At the time of this writing, the total recorded cases of infection stand at 102k cases, with 96,759 recovered cases and 823 deaths.
Many countries responded quickly to the spread of the diseases, by taking drastic measures meant to slow down the rate of infection. These measures included mandatory mask wearing, the washing of hands and lockdowns of many countries around the world. Lockdowns were primary measures instituted to slow down the spread of the virus and to enable countries to contain the disease.
Since then, there have been mixed feelings as to what the future holds regarding the virus and normal life. Many have wondered whether the world could ever get back to normal or if the coronavirus will ever go away.
The experts have been talking, and their views on the matter will offer some insights to what we should expect in the future as far as normal life and the coronavirus is concerned.
Dr David Cennimo is an infectious disease expert at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. According to him, the coronavirus is not going to go away anytime soon. In his view, the virus will continue to mutate just like influenza. He believes that instead of the hope that the virus just vanishes one day, it is possibly going to be become a seasonable infection, just like the influenza, and that is the best we can hope for instead of it just going away.
“I think that the goal or the hope is that it becomes a seasonal viral illness, not unlike influenza, or frankly the other … endemic coronaviruses that we’ve known for years,” Cennimo said.
Dr. silvera also associates herself with the report of Dr David. In her view, although the virus will continue to mutate, its implications, or mutated forms are likely to be less severe. This means that although the virus in its mutated form will still be able to be transmissible, it will be less fatal than the original virus.
“The virus will continue to mutate to the point where it is transmissible but less fatal — less deadly,”. “It’s not going to cause as severe an illness over time,” Silvera said.
Dr. Silvera also believes that it is possible that the virus could be eradicated in some parts, but not fully from the world. That means that while some regions are still likely to record infections, other parts may be able to completely eradicate it from their regions. But normal life may not be guaranteed as there may still be the need to observe safety protocols and live with caution.
“Where it’s endemic in some regions, and potentially eliminated in some areas, but not fully eradicated,” she said.
She also admits that there may be a time where the infection will be serious in some parts, as well as times where the infection is likely to reduce. She also makes the point that, like the flu, it is possible that the new strain will be more transmissible than the original.
“There’s always the potential that you have — like we saw in 2009 with the flu — where there’s a newer strain that’s more transmissible … And then you have a more serious season,” she said.
Dr. Reynold Panettieri, vice chancellor for translational medicine and science at Rutgers University, also believes it’s unlikely the coronavirus is going anywhere anytime soon.
“It’s hard to say, but if I have to look into my crystal ball, my impression is that it is going to be with us for probably a decade and maybe even longer,” Panettieri said. “We’ve seen that with the flu epidemic in 1918.”
From all indications, there is a high probability that the coronavirus is here to stay. We must therefore begin to adjust our lives around the new normal. The use of hand sanitisers, the wearing of nose masks and the continuous caution in our day-to-day movements will remain a critical part of our survival. And just like we have learnt to live with many viruses, we will live with the coronavirus too, for as long as the foreseeable future.
There is therefore the need to improve health delivery by actively investing in health infrastructure, research and training of experts in order to prepare for the new normal that the world has been ushered into.
In the next 10-20 years, health-based policies will be the central drivers of the global economy, and countries that are not prepared to conform to the challenges and innovations of the new challenge may have a difficult time navigating the global economic space.
Ghana must therefore align itself with the global priority in health response and delivery, and actively invest in research that is built on local knowledge and expertise, and delivers results that can be exported to other parts of the world in line with addressing the global health demand for solution-oriented innovations.