Weeks, months, years? When will this happen?
Two trends seem to be competing with one another during the coronavirus crisis in recent weeks. On the one hand, the number of people who have been vaccinated has been increasing as of late, while on the other hand, many countries seem to be heading toward a third wave of the virus. In countries like the U.S., which has been the epicenter of the pandemic for the last 12 months, the number of those who received at least one jab reached 161 million as of April 2.
Around the world, the number passed 600 million, which is a source of cautious optimism in regards to the fight against the outbreak that shattered social and economic life around the world for more than a year.
The authorization of new vaccines and an increase in vaccine production point to vaccinations continuing to increase in the coming months, which would bring about a normalization process in certain parts of the world by the end of this year.
Too early to feel safe
However, there is still significant reason to be cautious in this process. Since the beginning of the vaccination process in some countries, we have witnessed the reemergence of inequalities, this time due to the public health crisis.
There has been a visible discrepancy in access to vaccinations among countries. In the coming months, if the international community fails to address this inequality and cooperate in order to make it possible for everybody to have access to the vaccine, we may see significant challenges in the fight against the pandemic.
The other side of the coin
The second trend being witnessed amid the pandemic is the increasing number of cases in recent weeks. Even in countries with the highest number of vaccinations, we have seen a surge of new cases and hospitalizations.
For instance, in many countries in Europe, the reports indicate that the third wave of cases has begun. Countries such as France, Italy and Germany have already announced new precautions and limitations to ride out this wave without further loss of life.
In addition, in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, there are reports of increasing cases and fatalities due to the pandemic. In both regions, the hospitalization rate also increased while the average age of those who are hospitalized decreased in recent weeks.
Relatively younger and more mobile segments of society seem to be more affected by this new surge.
Furthermore, the new variants of the coronavirus are generating a lot of fear and concern due to their high transmissibility in these regions.
Many health experts warn that the month of April will probably be one of the most consequential months in the fight against pandemic in these countries.
The precautions and vaccination process in these countries will determine the curve of the outbreak and the process of normalization.
Patience for normalization
It is true that the world is experiencing pandemic fatigue and people are looking forward to the normalization process. However, people should be extremely cautious amid the emergence of this new surge in the phase of normalization.
Besides, it is important for nations around the world to think about the long-term steps needed to be taken to handle outbreaks. In the midst of this crisis, it would be wise to discuss the necessary steps to develop an effective mechanism to deal with future pandemics.
The recent arguments put forth in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report about the origin of the outbreak prove that the international community must reevaluate and reform the existing mechanisms in order to better understand past epidemics and pandemics while better preparing for future outbreaks.
This article was first published by Daily Sabah on April 6, 2021.