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Posted: January 23, 2022

It’s time to recognize the true reality of COVID-19

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

Is it time to change the “P” word to the “E” word? I think so.

As you’ve probably figured out already, the two words I’m talking about are pandemic and endemic. Pandemic, according to my abridged Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as a disease “prevalent over the whole of a country, or continent or over the whole world,” while endemic is defined as a “disease habitually prevalent in a certain country and due to permanent local causes.”

Some epidemiologists say Covid has passed its peak. Others say the world-wide surge of Omicron means there could be worse COVID-19 variants down the road. So, no loud hallelujahs please or breaking out the bubbly. We’re not out of the swamp yet.

Can there be any doubt about the deadly swamp we’re in? A horrific world-wide Covid death toll of 5.59 million lost souls according to the Jan. 22 update by Our World in Data. This includes 32,217 deaths in Canada, 864,000 in the U.S. (more than WW1, WW2 and Vietnam combined) 153,000 in the U.K., 318,000 in  Russia, 128,000 in France and many thousands in China but no official number released. Those are awfully horrific numbers no matter what your stand is on Covid.

So, what do these numbers mean? University of California infectious disease specialist Dr. Monica Gandhi says COVID-19 will become endemic rather than pandemic when the Covid death rate becomes low and hospitalizations steadily decrease. “But it’s going to take past the Omicron surge,” she says and who knows when that will be?

Omicron is indeed the wild card in the Covid nightmare because its infection rate is dropping in some places, but surging in others including Cranbrook with Joseph Creek Village reporting an outbreak this week.

Interior Health announced the outbreak at Joseph Creek last week but gave no details. However, IH also said Cranbrook is experiencing its highest COVID-19 case counts since the pandemic began. One wishes that IH would be more transparent with its Covid information but that apparently isn’t going to happen.

Nevertheless, Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s top public health doctor, said at a news conference Friday that contact tracing is no longer considered an effective way of controlling COVID-19 or the Omicron variant and “we have to change our way of thinking.”

Could this be a hint that BC Health, and other health agencies in Canada and around the world, have finally reached the point of acknowledging their Covid fighting strategies the past two years –well intended as they’ve been  – have been fundamentally wrong?

Canadians are a dutiful people. In terms of Covid, we’ve done what the “experts” told us. We’ve worn the masks. We have one of the best vaccination rates in the world. We’ve socially spaced. We’ve curbed our social behaviour to next to nothing. (More than Boris Johnson ever did!) We’ve closed our restaurants, bars, theatres, arenas, businesses, churches, gyms and schools then partially re-opened them only to close them again until many of us are in a black funk to the point of crying out for Prozac or trying – mostly unsuccessfully – to flee to the Caribbean or Vegas at least.

And what has all of this gotten us? Next to nothing. Nada or very close to it. Obviously then, it’s time for a different strategy and many are suggesting that it’s time – way past time in fact – to recognize that the pandemic is permanent and likely to be with us for a long, long time. Perhaps forever as indeed it always has been all the way back to the Bubonic Plague.

Therefore, it’s time for a new strategy. One that recognizes the permanence of COVID-19 and comes up with a new protective vaccine that we’ll receive annually like the flu shots of the past. In other words, a strategy that acknowledges that Covid has morphed yet again from a pandemic to an endemic disease.

And this should surely please the recalcitrant anti-vaxers too because it could mean the end of mandated vaccines, mask wearing, social spacing and all the other Big Brother government measures that have been driving so many of us crazy the past two years.

One can always dream.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who thinks it’s time for a different strategy fighting Covid.

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