The Pandemic is over!

WHO had declared the Covid 19 pandemic to be over. Great! We can now forget about the past three gruelling years of health and social and economic challenges. We have survived it, let’s move on.

I think NOT. Before we get back to our old ways of socializing and the old ways of earning a living it is important to pause and to reflect on the past three years. How did we fare as a society, and as a global community? How did our government govern in these trying times? Have there been major policy errors? Did our healthcare system function well during the pandemic? What did we learn? How can we prepare for the next pandemic?

There are other questions and topics to ponder but let us focus on the most important ones which in my view are:

  1. How did we manage the pandemic globally and nationally? Did we cooperate? Was it a coordinated global and national effort?

  2. Were there mistakes that we have made, nationally and globally?

  3. What are the main lessons this pandemic has taught us?

  4. How can we prepare for the next pandemic?

Here are some thoughts to start the conversation :

How did we manage the pandemic globally and nationally? Did we cooperate? Was it a coordinated global and national effort?

There was a level of global coordination. WHO did act as a global health organization, provided guidelines and attempted to assist in the global distribution of vaccines. But different nations made their own policies and reacted to the pandemic locally and with different local/national nuances.

Mistakes that we have made, nationally and globally

Nationally, in Canada, the pandemic guidelines were not always consistent, leading to confusion. This could be attributed to the government learning on the fly to protect the public, the healthcare system, and the economy. Unfortunately, many long-term care facilities were hit hard due to insufficient government inspection and enforcement of adequate care. Inadequate training, a shortage of care workers, and care workers serving multiple facilities resulted in a significant number of deaths. It is worth considering whether long-term facilities should operate as for-profit businesses, as this model may prioritize cost-cutting over quality care.

Perhaps, it would have been a time to form a Federal unity government, put aside political differences, and ensure no political gains motivated the pandemic policies. To my knowledge, that politically selfless act was not done by any government worldwide.

What are the main lessons this pandemic has taught us?

The most significant lesson from this pandemic is the realization that we live in a global village in the 21st century. Our economy is interconnected through international trade agreements and large international corporations, making health challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic global. Borders could not contain the virus, and all nations fought a common enemy. It is certain that there will be future pandemics, potentially originating from new viruses crossing species boundaries, and they will also have global implications. Understanding our global interconnectedness should prompt us to question nationalistic policies, nuclear arms races, and the disparities between rich and poor nations, among other problems our civilization faces.

There are additional lessons we can learn from this pandemic. For example, the problematic relationship between Big Pharma, which profited greatly from the pandemic and continues to do so by advocating for booster shots, and governments desperate to ensure public safety and maintain essential services. In this context, there may be shortcuts in vaccine approval processes, compromising thorough testing and evaluation of long-term effects.

Another challenge we faced was the rise of conspiracy theories, which interfered with health measures and vaccine rollout. While questioning policies is healthy in strong democracies, we should have been better prepared to address these views in the context of the pandemic.

How can we prepare for the next pandemic?

  1. How can we prepare for the next pandemic? First, we must acknowledge that another pandemic is likely to occur and that it will have global ramifications. Strengthening global coordination and authority, with the WHO playing a central role, seems like a sensible initiative.

  2. Establishing multiple global centers dedicated to vaccine research and tasked with rapid development and deployment would be crucial. Governments should partner with these centers to ensure socially responsible pricing, while involving private for-profit businesses would promote innovation and effectiveness.

  3. We should critically review the measures employed during the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes analyzing the efficacy of mask-wearing, various pandemic-related policies, economic management, and information sharing. Through this assessment, we can develop an emergency plan, both nationally and globally, ready to be implemented swiftly.

Presumably, the national authorities are doing that right now and hopefully, it is a Global Response plan, one that recognizes the global nature of the threat.

The public can contribute many valuable suggestions, but the most important step, in my opinion, is to foster discussions and reflect on what we have endured, thus enabling us to think and work together on a global scale.

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