The COVID-19 pandemic changed everyone’s lives. If you didn’t know someone who suffered from or died of the novel coronavirus, you may have lost your job, paid more expensive housing fees or learned how to homeschool your kids on the fly. Most people are looking forward to going back to “normal,” but is there actually a post-pandemic future? These are the most critical points to keep in mind so you can adjust your expectations about the world no longer having to fear COVID-19 outbreaks.
1. Vaccines Provide a Way Out
To imagine what’s on the horizon, you need to know what the future of the pandemic looks like. COVID-19 vaccines began to reach the general public in early 2021. Widespread vaccinations began to lower community spread by providing antibodies that stopped the virus. The U.S. went from having 300,000 cases per day in January to under 20,000 each day in June as more adults received vaccines.
If more people continue to get vaccinated and stop community spread, smaller hotspots within unvaccinated populations will become a similar health threat as the annual flu.
Science shows that vaccines are the best way to create a post-pandemic future. If more people continue to get vaccinated and stop community spread, smaller hotspots within unvaccinated populations will become a similar health threat as the annual flu.
2. Promising Treatments Make the Future Bright
Will the pandemic really end if enough people refuse to get vaccinated? Although it will be challenging to eliminate the virus, new treatments may make it easier for patients of all ages and backgrounds to recover if they get sick. The future will become much brighter if COVID-19 isn’t a significant concern for people with preexisting conditions, immunodeficiency or age-related complications. Currently, there are 84 ongoing therapeutic studies to find solutions like monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications.
3. Everyone Should Keep Testing in Mind
Scientists agree that COVID-19 may not disappear like polio did after that vaccine became publicly available. Although it’s possible, it will require an overwhelming majority of the population to receive their vaccinations. Until then, everyone should keep testing in mind as the future eases back to normal. If you experience COVID-like symptoms, accessing a free test at a federal test site or through an urgent care clinic is an easy way to catch it early and get the proper treatment for your health needs.
The idea of still worrying about COVID-19 when you get a stuffy nose or a cough might make you anxious. Those symptoms didn’t cause significant concerns about your health before the pandemic, though. People will have to work through their anxiety and reach out to supportive community leaders so they don’t feel alone when getting tested.
4. People Will Likely Get More Shots
If you’ve already received your COVID-19 vaccination, you have much less to worry about. However, there might be more shots in your future. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend boosters for specific population groups right now but may expand those guidelines later on. More people will probably also get their annual flu shots to prevent the symptoms that might mimic COVID-19.
5. Herd Immunity May Become Less Important
Many people want herd immunity to help protect everyone against the pandemic recurring, so is that what the future of the pandemic looks like? Researchers don’t yet know how long unvaccinated people have immunity after recovering from COVID-19 or how robust their antibodies are. Given that the waves of COVID-19 continued getting worse before vaccines were released, experts don’t expect herd immunity to help end the pandemic.
At best, herd immunity may provide some short-term community relief after an outbreak. Vaccines and treatments will be the best way forward because they’ve shown much more promising results in giving transmission protection.
6. Future Diseases Could Take the Spotlight
Will the pandemic really end? There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is slowing down and will eventually get under control with the help of vaccines and treatments, but there will likely be more viruses in the future.
Given the warming climate, animals are changing habitats to adapt to wildfires, rising sea levels and melting ice caps. This will force them to interact with new species and come across humans more often, so climate change could create conditions for new viruses that take the world by surprise. It’s not a reason to move to a remote cabin and isolate yourself forever. Still, it’s something to keep in mind when political candidates pledge to defund or fund experts who could identify and stop developing diseases in their tracks.
Is There a Post-Pandemic Future?
Social distancing and masking around unvaccinated loved ones won’t be here forever. There really is a post-pandemic future, but people should adjust their expectations. Feeling more comfortable with getting tests for sniffly noses and never skipping a flu vaccine will likely become your new normal.