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Leading Expert Says COVID "Nowhere Near Over"

And, it coronavirus may never really go away.
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With over 226,000 deaths in just nine months and counting, the burning question on many people's minds is the same: When will the COVID-19 pandemic be over? Despite the fact that a vaccine is going to be a reality in the near future, COVID is "nowhere near over" according to some of the top infectious disease experts in the nation. In fact, life might never be the same again. Read on for more of his warning, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

"We Are Never Going Back to the Old Normal"

"We are not going back to the old normal. The world will be BC and DC — before COVID and during COVID. I don't think we see an AC, after COVID, anytime soon," Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently said during a recent discussion, according to the Friday issue of IDWeek Daily News. As for a "return to normal," it might never happen. "Certain things are not coming back. We have all realized that there is a lot of virtual meetings we can do that save a lot of airfare and are good for our carbon footprint. Why go back? There are people who have realized, we didn't need that office space, we like working from home." 

The pandemic is "nowhere near over," he explains. "In fact, I think it's important that we say we're not even halfway through it. It is the most disruptive infectious disease threat the world has faced in a century. We have to be careful about saying it is the worst, since HIV has killed 30 million people so far. It is the most disruptive, and we have to be very clear that the risk of explicit spread will not end with the vaccine." 

During the discussion with Michael Ryan, MBChB, MPH, executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme and moderated by Betsy McKay of The Wall Street Journal, Frieden recommended we "move beyond the concept that one thing is going to make this go away," because the vaccine isn't it. 

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"We Need to Chip Away at the Risk"

"We need to chip away at the risk, a one-two punch of preventing spread and knocking it down when it occurs. That means reducing the spread, stopping clusters, protecting health care. We must use data to drive progress. There still is a tremendous amount we don't know about COVID. Let's be clear about what we know, how we know it and how we're trying to find it out," he said.

Like Dr. Anthony Fauci, he urged the importance of fundamentals, dubbing them the "three Ws: wearing masks, watch your distance and wash your hands." 

He also pointed out that going forward, decisions should be carefully weighed with both the risks and benefits in mind, using schools as an example. "There is a real benefit to kids coming to school and learning. There is not a real benefit to visitors coming to visit and see how that is going," he said. 

As far as when the economy will "fully reopen" he predicts it will be a long time. "We are not going to be open the way we were open before COVID in the foreseeable future. For the foreseeable future, masks are in and handshakes are out, and we're going to have to get used to that reality," he said. 

Dr. Frieden believes that the virus will likely be around in some form forever. "What I would like us not to focus on is the idea of eradicating the virus," he explained. "What we need to do is achieve control of this virus to such a fashion that we can get back to living our normal lives. Older people and vulnerable people do not have to fear catching it and dying. Our schools can go back, health systems can recover and we can reach a point where this virus may enter the pantheon of all those viruses that can affect us from time to time." So play your part: wash your hands, wear your face mask, avoid crowds, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID