COVID recap: How has the pandemic changed us?

More than two years ago, COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world, changing the fabric of society. Masks have become the norm. Reports of newly discovered variants appear every few months. Many people are struggling with brain fog and debilitating fatigue caused by COVID. Others are struggling to find ways to cope with grief and loneliness. Some will argue that these changes may last forever.

In a short series, VigorTip reviews the ways COVID-19 has changed our lives. Our reporters asked experts how the virus will continue to impact public health in 2022.

Will there be more variants?

Alpha. delta. Omicron. The Greek alphabet doesn’t seem long enough to keep up with the emerging variants of COVID-19.During 2021, New variants are constantly emerging, causing varying degrees of alertness. Is this also what we are facing in 2022?

We learned: The state of the pandemic depends on global cooperation. Vaccines need to be distributed to help reduce mutations, experts say.

Expected results: We can expect that as long as the virus is able to mutate, there will be variants. Therefore, we may see more variants in 2022. But it’s hard to say if they’ll be milder than previous strains.

READ ALSO:  New COVID testing plan shows why testing still matters

read more

Will we wear masks forever?

At the beginning of the pandemic, masks were our first line of defense. With the advent of a vaccine, mask guidelines are starting to relax. But the surge always seems to bring us back to square one.

We learned that mask recommendations change frequently as governments have to adapt to emerging research and changing case numbers.

Expected result: Even after the threat of COVID recedes, the habit of wearing masks may take root in the U.S. to prevent other illnesses like the flu. However, the cover-up still has no end in sight.

read more

Will COVID be the new flu?

Complete eradication of COVID-19 is no longer a realistic goal. Instead, hope the virus looks a bit like the flu – always present, but far less dangerous.

We learned that, despite the frequent comparisons, COVID-19 is still more severe and unpredictable than the flu.

Expected result: The virus wants to evolve to be mild enough to survive and continue to replicate, which leads to milder disease in humans. So the presence of Omicron is a good sign. Still, no one knows how long it will take for COVID-19 to be considered endemic like the flu.

READ ALSO:  What does COVID-19 vaccine potency mean?

read more

What should we expect from long-term COVID treatment?

For the past two years, patients and researchers have been searching for clues about what causes long-term COVID and how to treat it. Still, chronic COVID has raised more questions than answers.

What we learned: In 2021, researchers have made significant progress in understanding long-term COVID. Medicines for different diseases were repurposed as treatments. We gain a better understanding of the mechanisms behind some of these lingering symptoms, such as reactivation of previous EBV infections.

What to expect: There is still a lot of progress to be made. Long-distance transporters would like to see more collaboration from the medical community in understanding the situation.

read more

The pandemic has raised mental health awareness. Will it last?

If there’s a silver lining to this pandemic, it’s that more people are now aware of the importance of mental health. Unfortunately, this is partly because people have been struggling with isolation, addiction and grief.

READ ALSO:  How different generations are coping with COVID-19

What we learned: Many people reported feeling anxious and depressed in the last year. This is especially true for people and healthcare workers living in areas hardest hit by the outbreak.

What to expect: Hope people continue to prioritize mental health in the new year. The rise of digital mental health services and online substance use treatment has made access to care easier, which in turn has reduced stigma.

read more

How is COVID changing addiction treatment?

People are grappling with the enormous stress of COVID-19 and its impact. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in overdose and substance abuse.

What we learned: Harm reduction groups widely promote the use of naloxone, also known as Narcan, a life-saving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose.

What to expect: Experts want to see greater emphasis on addressing root causes of addiction, such as poverty and housing, to prevent people from relapsing and returning to substance use to cope.

read more