1. Q: Will the pandemic end?
A: No. The waves of infection and reinfection will be endless. It will be just like the common cold, but much worse.
2. Q: Will there be a vaccine?
A: No. Can thousands of scientists working in hundreds of laboratories worldwide all be wrong? Unfortunately.
3. Q: So how will we go about dealing with this?
A: By identifying the problem.
4. Q: What is the problem?
A: It’s not one problem, it’s two.
5. Q: Well now. And your first problem?
A: Simply put. Some of us, mostly the old and vulnerable, will become very ill and without treatment will suffer severely and will possibly die.
6. Q: You say treatment, why not provide treatment?
A: Shortage of money, shortage of staff, shortage of equipment, shortage of facilities, sheer stupidity and bloodymindedness.
7. Q: OK. But assume we provide decent treatment. Does that solve the problem?
A: Alas no. Alleviate it yes. Solve it no. It’s not going away. Lots of extra doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical equipment and goodwill are going to be needed in perpetuity and then all they will be able do is to keep the suffering and death to a minimum.
8. Q: Is that all we can do?
A: It is. With the best treatment available, year in and year out lots of us will get sick and many will die. If you’re old or vulnerable, if you want to avoid infection, from now on existence will be solitary, restricted and miserable. And it won’t do any good In the end everybody is going to be infected and then reinfected. And the average life expectancy will drop to an early 20th century level.
9. Q: And what about the second problem?
A: It’s called “long covid.” A lot of us, particularly the over 50s, are going to get follow on reactions. The covid doesn’t stop. Some of us, maybe eventually all of us, will get repeat doses of crippling fatigue, brain fog, muscular pains and possibly heart, kidney or liver damage. Many will suffer such severe symptoms that they will be unable to continue work. And for how long these condition will last only time will tell.
!0. Q: Can we do anything about “long covid.”?
A: No. We will have to accept a large scale loss of senior staff. It will mean a significant section of the population going into early retirement and living on pensions or savings, if they are lucky enough to have them available. And, as diseases do spread, so it will spread wider and wider, and living standards will drop due to lack of our productive and service workers.
Despair not. Remember, as Camus says, “Life is absurd, there is no god, and we’re all going to die.”