Some European countries like Spain are making tentative plans as to when they will be able to start dealing with COVID-19 as an “endemic” disease, but the The World Health Organization and other health authorities have warned that the world is nowhere near declaring the end of the pandemic.
Here’s a look at what it means that it is an endemic disease and the implications for the future.
What does it mean for a disease to be Edenic and not pandemic?
diseases are endemic when they occur regularly in certain areas and according to established patterns, while a pandemic refers to a global outbreak that causes unpredictable waves of contagion.
The WHO said that the redefinition of the coronavirus as an endemic disease is still “a long way off”, according to Catherine Smallwood, an infectious disease expert at the United Nations health agency’s European headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. “We continue to have great uncertainty and a rapidly evolving virus,” he said earlier in the month.
For many countries, the rating of endemic means that there will be fewer resources available to fight it, since it could no longer be considered a public health emergency.
Who decided when COVID-19 will be endemic?
Most rich countries could make that decision on their own based on how the virus circulates within their borders. and the potential for new cases to cause large outbreaks. Widely available COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and other measures in these nations will help them stem outbreaks long before the virus is brought under control globally.
Technically, heWHO does not declare pandemics. Its highest alert level is a global health emergency, and COVID-19 entered that category in January 2020. The UN agency has convened a committee of experts every three weeks since then to reassess the situation.
The pandemic is likely to end when WHO experts declare that COVID-19 is no longer a global emergency, but the criteria for that decision are not precisely defined.
“It is a somewhat subjective judgment because it is not just about the number of cases. It’s also about its severity and its impact,” said Dr Michael Ryan, WHO’s head of emergencies.
Others have pointed out that the designation of COVID-19 as endemic is possibly more a political issue than a scientific one, and speaks to the number of sick people and deaths the authorities and their citizens are willing to tolerate.
What does Spain propose?
The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, dHe said last week that the decline in the death rate from COVID-19 suggests that it is time for European authorities to start thinking about whether the disease should be considered endemic. This supposed that the Spanish authorities will no longer have to register each contagion of coronavirus and that people with symptoms would not have to undergo detection tests, although they would continue to be treated as if they were infected. The proposal has been discussed with some community authorities, but no decision has been reached.
In October, the European Center for el Disease Control and Prevention issued advice on moving to more routine COVID-19 surveillance after the most acute phase of the pandemic. Among his recommendations, he suggested that countries integrate the monitoring of the coronavirus with that of other diseases such as the flu and analyze a representative sample of COVID-19 cases, instead of trying to test every person with symptoms.
Does endemic mean the problem is over?
No. Many serious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV are considered endemic in some parts of the world and continue to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. Malaria, for example, is endemic in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and it is estimated that there are more than 200 million cases a year, including some 600,000 deaths.
“Endemic by itself doesn’t mean good,” Ryan said. “Endemic just means it will be here forever.”
The authorities warn that Even after COVID-19 becomes an established respiratory virus like seasonal flu, it will still be deadly for some.
When the pandemic is over, “COVID will still be with us,” said Dr. Chris Woods, an infectious disease expert at Duke University. “The difference is that people will not die indiscriminately from it, and it will be so common that there will be much better and fairer access to vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for everyone.”