New Delhi: Call it ‘getting back to normal’ or entering into a new era of the COVID-19 pandemic, but several countries, especially in the West, are moving towards accepting the coronavirus spread as an endemic and have begun treating it as mere flu. Spain is the recent case in point.
After 2 years of curfews, lockdown, mask mandates and movement restrictions, the question arose several times if the world is really ready to take a step ahead and treat COVID like flu. However, the health experts in India and across warn strictly against dropping the guards against coronavirus as it is an ever-changing virus.
So are we really ready to treat COVID like flu? Here is an analysis of what global health bodies and various governments are saying about the ‘endemic stage’ of the coronavirus pandemic stage.
WHO has clearly and vehemently opposed the idea of treating COVID like an endemic and warned against dropping restrictions, especially mask mandates.
Health body chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said that Omicron is less severe than the Delta variant of the coronavirus but is still killing and affecting people, especially those unvaccinated.
However, the WHO itself admitted that most people in Europe will be infected with the new variant.
What do experts say?
On the other side, several health experts in the United States are favouring the idea of treating COVID like a flue with maximum focus on vaccination against the virus.
Dr Clive Dix, a UK based health expert and the former chairman of the country’s vaccine task force recently said that it’s time to consider entering an endemic stage and treat COVID like a flu.
However, health experts in Spain are themselves divided on the ‘treat COVID like a flu approach’.
“It’s a mistake to think that the problem will no longer exist by not counting infections, or by reducing the number of days of isolation, or by establishing quarantines in schools with five children instead of maintaining what was had. The problem continues to be there, and it has to be addressed,” López Acuña, a leading epidemiologist and former WHO directive told a Spanish broadcaster
Is the ‘treat COVID like flu’ approach helping European countries?
Since Spain is the first country to officially announce that it will treat COVID like an endemic now, it’s pertinent to understand the developing trend of the virus in the country.
In the last week, Spain recorded more than 100 COVID-related deaths on a daily basis.
Now the United Kingdom, another supporter of ‘the new normal’ approach, has surely seen a declining trend in COVID infections but is still recording over 1 lakh cases every day with over 250 deaths every day from the past few days.
Now, this boils down to a pertinent question – if 100-200 deaths every day, from the same infection, is the idea of ‘normal’ for a country?