Has Covid Been Forgotten?


As big of a deal it is in and will likely remain to be in our lives, many have begun to consider covid a thing of the past. With new issues coming up in the world as well as the removal of things like the mask mandate it seems like people have begun to forget about covid-19. 

And while it may not be just as present in the US as it was in the past it very much is in other areas. 

In the past few weeks, with more than 14,000 symptomatic cases than all of last year, mainland China has experienced its worst Covid outbreak since the initial peak of the outbreak in 2020.

Mainland China reported more than 3,500 new cases on Monday and was followed by close to 2,000 new cases the day after. There have been no reported deaths as of now. The number of covid cases in Europe is higher. 

Chen Zhengmin, professor of epidemiology at the University of Oxford says, “The next two weeks are key to determining whether existing policies can really be effective in curbing infection growth or even reaching completely zero cases in one city as we saw last year.”

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has spread fear throughout all of China with the fear of lockdowns and economic instability.

Analysts say that the omicron wave “could cause significant downside to China’s GDP growth and disruption to the global supply chains in the near term, and potentially accelerate the decoupling and supply chain relocation in the medium term.” This could cause the world’s second-largest economy to be dragged down, which is sure to affect other countries as well. 

National Health Commission spokesperson Mi Feng said, “preventing and controlling epidemics has become more difficult,” and stressed that “it has been proved in practice.” Even though it is said by experts that China’s current virus measures are still effective against the virus. But with the struggles of maintaining the economy, some experts are beginning to say that China’s COVID approach is no longer sustainable. 

“The old way has been very effective, regardless of the cost, and [epidemic prevention] is the biggest political task. Also if such a change is made, the general public might misinterpret that as giving up,” said Chen

And this same thing could happen to the US.

In the U.K., cases were up about 52% in the last week and hospitalizations were up 18%, almost three weeks after the country dropped its remaining COVID-19 mandates. The U.S. also just removed its mask mandate and in public spaces like schools and workplaces where everyone is right next to each other, this can be a safety hazard. While no clear effects have been seen yet, it is a possibility that covid cases could hit a high again in the US just as it has in China. 

Even before the mask mandate was lifted, it was suggested by doctors to not do so. Dr. Mercedes Carnethon, the vice-chair of the department of preventive medicine and a professor of epidemiology and pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told ABC News, “It is not safe at this time for schools to rescind mask mandates [because] even though we do have decent levels of vaccination in the older age groups, as populations get younger, the proportion who are vaccinated gets lower.” 

The chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rochelle Walensky, also said “Now is not the moment. I know people are interested in taking masks off. I too am interested. That would be one marker that we have much of the pandemic behind us, Right now our CDC guidance has not changed. … We continue to endorse universal making in schools.” 

Currently, only 22.6% of Americans ages 5-11 and 56.4% of those ages 12-17 are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and having the mask mandate be down will play as a catalyst to raise the amount of COVID cases. 

It’s important to keep COVID in mind as it’s something that will continue to leave an effect on the world. And while the U.S. is moving in the right direction, new variants, such as the BA.2 strain, can always slow and affect this progress.