IT'S TAKEN ROOTS
Down To Earth|February 16, 2021
It is likely that COVID-19 would soon become endemic in several countries, including India
VIBHA VARSHNEY AND BANJOT KAUR

FOR CENTURIES the world has struggled with infectious diseases, and experience shows that eradicating them is next to impossible. So far, we have managed to eradicate just one disease: smallpox. Others have entered the ranks of an endemic disease, which persists in the population at a predictable rate after spreading in epidemic or pandemic proportions. Such diseases include malaria, HIV/ Aids, Ebola, measles, and influenza to name a few. Most likely, this is going to be the fate of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), which will continue to cause intermittent outbreaks after the pandemic ebbs. This is what the World Health Organization (who) predicted. “This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and may never go away,” Mike Ryan, executive director, who emergencies program, said at a press briefing on May 13, 2020.

This transition from pandemic to endemic is not simple. “The end of pandemics is always slow and messy. It will not end at the same time everywhere,” says Nükhet Varlık, associate professor, department of history, University of South Carolina, USA. It is possible that Covid-19 will become endemic in certain parts of the world and continue to circulate to other areas. This is the likely behavior of newly emerging infectious diseases, Varlik told Down To Earth. A key to this transition lies in the fact whether a country has achieved herd immunity against it—through vaccines or by falling sick.

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