President of the United States of America, Joe Biden recently declared a major victory in the battle against the virus that has seen more than 580,000 Americans die.
“I think it’s a great milestone, a great day,” he said.
In most states in the US, life is beginning to return to normal with schools reopening and venues like roller skating rinks and movie theatres are opening with fewer restrictions. Many places in the US have even lifted the obligatory requirement of wearing masks and social distancing, since 60 per cent of US adults have now received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Even sporting events like the Champions League Final and the Turkish Grand Prix are scheduled to be held physically with the organizing states to allow visitors to cross states to join the events.
Furthermore, EU has fast-tracked the implementation of the Digital Green Pass, the EU health certificate which is expected to be operational by the end of June 2021. Also known as the Digital Green Certificate, this travel document is going to allow EU citizens to move safely within the European Union during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The EU will strengthen the region’s response to coronavirus with the rollout of the Digital Green Pass for free and safe movement in the EU,” EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.
Given all that, some experts worry that all these reopening’s are coming a bit too soon.
“We’re, hopefully, in between what I hope will be the last big wave, and the beginning of the period where I hope COVID will become very uncommon,” said Robert Horsburgh, an epidemiologist at the Boston University School of Public Health. “But we don’t know that. I’ve been advocating for us to just hang tight for four to six more weeks.”
Are countries like the US who have declared a victory over the virus just waiting to be hit by a more severe second wave?
This is practically what has been happening in India over the past few months, where its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had declared that India had successfully defeated the virus and flattened the curve. Restrictions were laxed and people began going about their lives as though the virus did not exist.
But two major public events, namely political election rallies and the religious Kumbh Mela festival, brought a huge second wave of COVID-19 infections which saw the countries health facilities collapsing, leaving people gasping for air (quite literally, due to the shortage of oxygen in hospitals).
As such, countries should be more cautious and think twice before resuming the pre-COVID lifestyle. Although many have been vaccinated, people should still take the necessary precautionary steps like wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing since most vaccines are still in the testing stage and have not been proven to be a 100% effective.
In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that second year of the COVID-19 pandemic may be tougher than the first given how the new coronavirus is spreading, especially in the northern hemisphere as more infectious variants circulate.
“We are going into a second year of this, it could even be tougher given the transmission dynamics and some of the issues that we are seeing,”
– Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies official-
The fight against COVID-19 is not yet over and we have to all work together to stop the spread of the virus. If we become complacent now, then it would undo all the progress we have achieved so far in terms of defeating this virus.