Over the past week, new Health Minister Khairy has stated that by October Malaysia will be moving forward from a pandemic to an endemic. This comes after an arduous battle with Covid-19 over the past year and a half with almost 2 million cases and over 18,000 deaths.
What moving into an endemic essentially means is that we’ll all have to adjust to the virus being around, however, due to immunity from the vaccinations, it will no longer be deadly and thus the need for social isolation will no longer be as necessary. Hospitalizations, transmissions and death from the virus will significantly reduce and despite the potential of getting infected, Covid will be treated the same as most other cases of flu.
A benchmark reference in turning a pandemic into an endemic is the 1918 influenza which took the lives of 50 million individuals. In recent times, Influenza A and most seasonal flu’s have descended from this initial virus, however, they have become much less deadly. Yearly they claim about 650,000 lives which are significant but not bad enough to affect our day to day the way it did when it first came it.
It all boils down to a shift in immunity and a shift in perception – we’re not afraid of the common cold, we know that we won’t feel good for a few days and we’ll eventually recover. This is what Covid will likely evolve into, something that we are wary of but not fearful of our lives. Even in Malaysia right now, as of 8th September 97.8% of cases, 19.304, were individuals who had no symptoms or very mild symptoms.
This shows that the vaccines are working and as long as we continue to vaccinate the country’s population in a timely manner, we’ll likely be reaching the end of the road soon and life as we once knew it will return.
Critics of this decision believe that we are potentially opening up too soon, however, if the vaccination rates are high enough to justify this shift then there is nothing else we can really do. We cannot live in lockdowns forever and the economy cannot halt any longer. It seems like this is the time for a new chapter, hopefully, one that comes with greater health and safety for all whilst a sense of normalcy is returned.
Do you think shifting into an endemic is the right decision?