When will the epidemic end? If we look at history, the answer is not so simple

When will the epidemic end? In all these months, with more than 37 million COVID-19 cases and more than 1 million deaths globally, you might be wondering how long this will continue, with increasing migration.

Since the onset of the epidemic, epidemiologists and public health experts have used mathematical models to predict the future in an effort to prevent the spread of coronovirus.

But infectious disease modeling is difficult. Epidemiologists warn that “[m]Odell are not crystal balls, ”and even sophisticated versions, such as adding forecasts or using machine learning, may not necessarily reveal when the epidemic will end or how many people will die.

As a historian who studies disease and public health, I suggest that instead of looking ahead for clues, you can see what brought the previous outbreaks to a close – or not.

Where we are now in a pandemic

In the early days of the epidemic, many expected the coronovirus to simply fade. Some argued that it would disappear on its own with the heat of summer. Others claimed that herd immunity would decrease once enough people were infected. But nothing like this has happened.

A combination of public health efforts to prevent and mitigate the epidemic – from rigorous testing and contact tracing to social disturbances and wearing masks – have been proven to help.

Given that the virus has spread almost everywhere in the world, however, such measures alone cannot end the epidemic. All eyes have now been diverted to vaccine development, which is being pursued at an unprecedented pace.

Yet experts tell us that with a successful vaccine and effective treatment, COVID-19 can never go away. Even if the epidemic is controlled in one part of the world, it will likely continue elsewhere, causing infection elsewhere.

And even if it is no longer an immediate epidemic-level threat, the coronovirus will likely become endemic – meaning slow, continuous transmission will continue. Coronovirus will cause small outbreaks, like seasonal flu.

The history of the epidemic is replete with such disappointing examples.

Once they emerge, diseases rarely occur.

Whether bacterial, viral or parasitic, virtually every disease pathogen that affects people for the past several thousand years is still with us, as it is almost impossible to completely eliminate them.

The only disease that has been erased through vaccination is smallpox. Large-scale vaccination campaigns were successful in the 1960s and 1970s, led by the World Health Organization, and in 1980, smallpox was declared the first – and still, only – to eradicate human disease altogether.

So success stories like smallpox are extraordinary. Rather it is a rule that diseases come.

Take, for example, pathogens such as malaria. Transmitted through parasites, it is almost as old as humanity and still heals the burden of a heavy disease: in 2018 there were approximately 228 million malaria and 405,000 deaths worldwide.

Since 1955, global programs for malaria eradication to aid with the use of DDT and chloroquine have produced some success, but the disease is still endemic in many countries of the Global South.

Similarly, diseases like tuberculosis, leprosy and measles have been with us for many centuries. And despite all efforts, immediate elimination is still not in sight.

The mixture contains relatively few pathogens, such as HIV and Ebola viruses, as well as influenza and coronaviruses, including SARS, Mars, and SARS-COV-2, which cause COVID-19, and the overall epidemiological picture is clear. it happens.

Research on the global burden of disease shows that annual mortality due to infectious diseases – most of which occur in the developing world – accounts for about a third of all deaths globally.

Today, in an era of global air travel, climate change and ecological disturbances, we are constantly suffering from many chronic diseases that live and live well, while being constantly exposed to the threat of infectious diseases.

After being included in the repertoire of pathogens affecting human societies, most infectious diseases are here to stay.

The plague caused previous epidemics – and still pops

Even now infections have effective vaccines and treatments continue to take life. Perhaps no disease can help understand this better than the plague, which is the deadliest infectious disease in human history. Its name is still synonymous with terror.

Plague is caused by bacteria Yersinia Pestis. There have been countless local outbreaks and at least three documented plague epidemics over the past 5,000 years, killing millions of people. The most infamous of all the epidemics in the mid-14th century was the Black Death.

Yet the Black Death was far from being isolated. The plague returns every decade or so, each time killing already vulnerable societies and taking their toll over the course of at least six centuries.

Prior to the sanitary revolution of the 19th century, each outbreak slowly faded away over the course of months and sometimes years as a result of temperature, humidity, and availability of hosts, vectors, and a sufficient number of susceptible individuals.

Some societies recovered relatively quickly from the damage caused by the Black Death. Others never did. For example, medieval Egypt could not fully overcome the effects of the epidemic, which in particular devastated its agricultural sector.

The cumulative effect of the declining population became impossible to regain. It led to the gradual decline of the Mamluk Sultanate and its conquest by the Ottomans within less than two centuries.

This very state-specific plague bacterium remains with us even today, reminding us to persist for a very long time and the resilience of pathogens.

It is expected that COVID-19 will not last for millennia. But unless there is a successful vaccine, and is still likely to occur, no one is safe.

Politics is important here: when vaccination programs are weakened, infection may return. Just look at measles and polio, which drive up vaccination efforts as soon as possible.

Given such historical and contemporary examples, humanity can only hope that the coronoviruses that cause COVID-19 will prove to be a tractable and erasable pathogen.

But the history of the epidemic teaches us to expect otherwise. chit chat

Nükhet Varlik, Associate Professor of History, University of South Carolina.

This article is republished from Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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