Forget 'Pandemic,' Start Thinking 'Endemic'

COVID may be with us permanently, like the flu, reports the Wall Street Journal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2021 2:39 PM CST
Updated Feb 13, 2021 5:30 PM CST
Forget 'Pandemic,' Start Thinking 'Endemic'
A man photographs his mother getting her COVID vaccination in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday.   (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Everyone's gotten familiar with the word "pandemic" in the last year. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that we'll likely have to shift our thinking on COVID to use "endemic" instead. Meaning, the virus could be with us in some fashion for years or perhaps permanently, like the flu. That doesn't mean draconian restrictions would remain as well—a disease is endemic when it's "persistently present but manageable," write Daniela Hernandez and Drew Hinshaw. But it could mean long-term changes in smaller ways—a quick swab before entering a concert, say. The story notes that a slew of cottage industries are springing up to take advantage, revolving around things like fast testing, ventilation, filters, and new COVID treatments.

"Going through the five phases of grief, we need to come to the acceptance phase that our lives are not going to be the same," says former CDC chief Thomas Frieden. "I don’t think the world has really absorbed the fact that these are long-term changes." Meanwhile:

  • Schools: The AP reports that school administrators around the country are planning for a continuation of remote learning into the fall, despite President Biden's hopes for the contrary. For one thing, vaccines for children remain a ways off.
  • Reinfections: The Journal story notes that COVID seems particularly adept at lingering in part because of how easily it spreads and mutates, and a separate story by the AP illustrates why. Evidence is mounting that people who have been infected once may not be safe from reinfection from one of the fast-spreading variants, according to new research.
(Read more COVID-19 stories.)

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