A new report examines the reality of endemic Covid and how we might prepare for it ahead of a review of traffic light settings due this week, write Anna Rawhiti-Connell in The Bulletin.
A new era of infectious disease mortality
A new report from Newsroom’s Marc Daalder posits that not only is Covid not over, it’s just getting started. According to Covid modeller Michael Plank, there’s a fair chance the virus will exist in a tricky space between something like the flu and the existential threat it’s represented over the last two years – becoming endemic, yet still deadly. Reflecting on the history of infectious diseases like polio, smallpox and tuberculosis, Daalder writes that endemic Covid may kill more people than infectious diseases have in decades. It’s a weighty piece but I think it does a good job of both confronting some evidential realities and representing the confusing state of flux we’re currently in.
Long-term war with the virus
Speaking with experts, Daalder says it’s possible that Covid will kill three to six times more people a year than seasonal influenza. He writes, “A permanent presence from Covid-19 means we are now in a long-term war with the virus. Reinfections will become the norm – a never-ending battle against an ever-evolving foe.” As the Herald’s Jamie Morton reports, Auckland’s Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust is seeing families being reinfected with Covid-19 for the third time. This has prompted a warning about being extra vigilant this winter.
Out of sight, out of mind not a luxury for all
For those who have been extra vigilant to the point of taking their lunch breaks in their cars to avoid bringing the virus home from work to immuno-compromised children, constant “take care of yourself” or vigilance messages are cold comfort. I completely understand the desire to move on and that people are sick of reading about Covid. I genuinely don’t think that it is motivated by callousness in many people but something quite human. It is, however, a perspective that you’re more entitled to if you’re reasonably well. If you read this from Emily Writes, about the lengths people with sick kids or family members are going to to avoid the virus, you come to understand how Covid is definitely not over for those who can’t dismiss it out of sight.
Pre-departure tests gone by Monday
Meanwhile, the dismantling of Covid protocols continues. The Herald is reporting this morning that pre-departure tests for incoming visitors will be gone by next Monday. The government is planning to scrap Covid legislation. We are also due a review of the current traffic light setting this week. I’m not making any bets on whether it will change and I know there are many who want to get to green and many who will be anxious about the dropping of remaining restrictions. All I’ll say is that there is something analogous about living in orange at the moment as some of us remain necessarily hesitant before we go anywhere, while others try to beat the red and get to the next destination.