Covid-19: 3 years on, where do we stand?

Covid-19: 3 years on, where do we stand?
Posted 09 May 2023 | Source:

Experts say we must continue to be cautious as threat is not entirely mitigated

After the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) announcement that covid-19 is no longer a global emergency, Bengaluru’s health experts wonder what this implies for us. With variants continuing to mutate fast and new effects of the virus being reported, doctors say there are questions left to be answered.

For Dr Swati Rajagopal (Consultant - Infectious Disease and Travel Medicine, Aster CMI Hospital), the ‘end of the pandemic’ is in sight, however, there’s a long way to the finish line.

“This is not the time to relax, we should capitalise on hard work done over the last two years: focus on booster doses of vaccinations and continue to follow precautions to prevent spread of infection in the community. We are better than what we were before, the death rates are lower, the aggressive phase is lower than before.”

Firstly, people need to understand the meaning of words such as epidemic, pandemic, and outbreak, says Dr John Paul (Infectious Disease specialist, SPARSH Hospital). “An outbreak is when there is a sudden spike of a disease in a localised community whereas an epidemic is when it involves a larger area with an increased incidence of the same disease more than what is usually seen for that particular area. When this area involves countries and continents, then we call it a pandemic. When the disease continues to occur at a particular rate in a geographical area then we call that the disease is endemic to that area,” he said.

He added that most viral infections tend to remain. They either mutate in such a way that they are not as virulent as they were before, which means that they cause lesser issues to the person infected. Or through vaccinations or previous infections, the person has gained adequate immunity to tide over the episode without many complications. “We can say that the virus is in an endemic state because there are a fixed number of cases reported at periodic intervals but not at proportions where we need to call it an epidemic or an outbreak.”

Unanswered questions

New research suggests even a mild case of Covid has the potential to increase long-term risks of serious cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack and heart failure. The study states that between 30 days and a year after recovery from Covid, survivors were 52 per cent more likely to have a stroke, 63 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, and 72 per cent more likely to develop complete heart failure. The many unanswered questions around long Covid worry experts who say some curbs should stay until we’re able to explain why some people have even suffered cognitive impairment despite recovery.

Variant trouble

New variants are a worry. Variants have kept the world in suspense, with a few triggering entire waves. They have come at a fast rate too. Towards the end of 2020, within months of SARS-CoV-2’s discovery, variants emerged with 10 to 20 mutations. Experts say until we have vaccines that are ready to take on variants (they are being developed worldwide), calling off the health emergency would be a very bad idea.


Dr Paul said, “People with high risks i.e., those that are elderly and people who are immuno-compromised, they continue to stay at significant risk if they contract the disease. Even if we are vaccinated and immune, we should continue to wear a mask to ensure that we don’t risk infecting high-risk individuals. For this reason, we need to continue wearing a mask.”