First of all, let's state the obvious and declare with confidence that all those lockdowns and restrictions were never popular with anyone - myself included. The thought of ever having to return to that sort of existence still scares most of us. However, it's probably worth being mindful that despite the social-distancing, the lockdowns and all that went with it; this disease has already taken some 200,000 lives in the UK alone with Portugal registering over 24,000 deaths at time of writing. So, what would those numbers be had there been no action taken? I dread to think.
I'm sure I needn't remind anyone that even with all those horrid and seemingly draconian lockdown measures in place, Covid-19 still had the capacity to shatter the lives of millions and cause untold grief and hardship. Far too many people's lives have been forever changed with over 400,000 individuals in the UK impacted by the effects of “long Covid”. Many previously active individuals are now unable to work or even partake in physical activities which they might have previously enjoyed recreationally.
Recently, I looked at Glastonbury goings-on with a sense of trepidation. Without being too melodramatic, to me, it all just looked like a collective mindset that Covid-19 had simply 'never happened.' The whole sorry pandemic episode was being looked upon like some horrible and surreal nightmare best swept beneath the carpet and forgotten.
Yet, surely, hiding away amidst those huge thronging crowds of happy revellers, our microscopic foe was amassing for yet another onslaught. Another Covid-19 wave was probably brewing right there in front of our very eyes in the beautiful Somerset countryside.
Jumping the gun?
I seriously wondered whether we were bearing witness to another wave of disease 'piggybacking' this massive surge of euphoria and complacency? Think of it this way; when we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as restrictions ended, we also adopted the term "post Covid" to describe the current state of affairs. Does the mere fact that this term has been adopted alongside acts of gay abandonment simply prove that we're potentially jumping the gun? Have the brakes been released too abruptly and the train is now careering towards catastrophe?
I'm only asking these questions because we must all surely realise that Covid-19 hasn't just vanished? So, by definition, we're not living in a 'post-Covid' world - are we?
Since February, Covid-19 Infections and hospitalisations have been on the rise again. Whilst numbers started from a relatively low base, including much lower levels of fatalities, the probability of huge gatherings like Glastonbury or the Queen's jubilee celebrations helping to spread the disease further and faster than before seems quite plausible. One thing Covid-19 has in its grim arsenal is the ability to grow exponentially. By the time the expert fraternity are in agreement about what measures need to be taken, it’s usually too late.
Add to the mix "new variants of concern" (BA.4 and BA.5). Whilst it remains unclear how potentially dangerous these variants might be relative to previous incarnations, it remains possible that amidst rising infections that yet another new variant (as yet unidentified) might eventually emerge. A variant that could prove more infectious and even more vicious than any previously encountered.
OK. Hands up. I confess that I'm no expert on this subject. I don't know how you felt but I was heartily fed up of listening to 'experts' throughout the lockdowns. They seemed to be a gaggle of people and organisations who often didn't see eye-to-eye. Yet they faced the cameras and routinely delivered entire suites of often conflicting and contradictory opinions. They also had a hand in formulating messy ad-hoc rules and legislation which only served to confuse the rest of us. All I could see was a whole bunch of people who were often only really expert in one field - serving vested interests.
Having said that, most of us are eternally grateful to all the genuine scientists who worked so tirelessly to bring forth new vaccines at an unprecedented pace. These people really stepped up. Who knows where we'd be otherwise. I imagine that medical science will have much to thank Covid-19 because brand new medical science was developed because of it.
Personally, I feel that governments have been reckless by taking down Covid-19 surveillance and monitoring infrastructure. Harsh lockdown narratives have moved from one extreme to another. I now notice a concerted effort to try and make us forget all about Covid-19. Ailing economies mean that there are other fish to fry.
A new normal?
Please don’t think I believe I'm 100% right with my predictions nor that I wish to see a return of the strict measures. On the contrary. But I honestly don't see how any of us can just live our lives completely normally in these ongoing Covid-19 times. I sincerely hope I AM wrong and end up with egg on my face but my biggest fear is that I may not be wrong at all.
The recent uptick in Covid-19 case numbers has made me act a lot more cautiously. I certainly don't fancy attending large indoor gatherings for example. Whilst I appreciate how some people are very reluctant to accept that Covid-19 remains a threat, let's be absolutely clear, this disease is still making a lot of people very poorly indeed.
Let's briefly look to the future. Shockingly, in case it's escaped anyone's notice, it's already past midsummer's day! The spectre of cooler days and longer nights beckon. Cooler weather will send us all scurrying back indoors once more. Schools, always a petri dish for growing nasty infections, will reopen. All this will doubtlessly mean growing Covid-19 case numbers and more hospitalisations. Yes, perhaps even nasty new variants could potentially emerge. We don't need experts to reluctantly point any of this out. We can do it for ourselves.
Perhaps, with hindsight, we will realise that the notion of “Living with Covid” didn't actually mean ignoring it? Perhaps we should have instead made some sensible adjustments that might help us collectively avoid spreading a virus that's very obviously still right here in our midst.
With the risk of sounding flippant. Yes, lockdowns were dreadful. Yes, people's mental health was severely impacted. Of course the pandemic was a terrible time for all and sundry. Yet, perversely, those who were most vocally opposed to lockdowns and were most keen to drop our guard were actually the ones who'd potentially give the virus that caused all the trouble SARS CoV-2 vírus) the advantage. These people were actually willing to risk even more severe measures having to be imposed. There was plenty of passion but zero logic.
Like it or not, as things currently stand, we still need to adopt a regime of constant and adaptive vigilance before we can realistically "Live with Covid-19". Pretending it no longer even exists seems utterly ludicrous considering everything that's been endured to-date? Ignoring what's staring us in the face goes beyond irresponsible? What I'm seeing is a society that's now actually handing the advantage back to the virus en masse.
Viruses have been around on this planet for a whole
lot longer than any experts or politicians. These pathogens have evolved with
one overriding instinct built into their makeup. The need to survive. That's
one leaf we should definitely be taking from their books.