When flu season comes around every winter, we know the importance of getting flu jabs. This has become particularly vital for the elderly and vulnerable because of the heightened risk of severe flu symptoms that could, in some cases, prove fatal.
Despite the vaccine being administered to vast numbers of people every year, we have also come to accept many annual flu-related deaths during the colder months. There are no lockdowns or restrictions put into place to reduce the number of people catching or spreading the flu – it is just something we have come to accept and live with.
The new kid on the block
Now we have a new disease on our hands in the form of Covid-19. Like the flu, it is something that experts say is here to stay and something we must learn to live with. As was the case last year, Covid will likely strike more during the autumn and winter months each year. Like the flu, we may have to rely on annual vaccinations and preventative measures to control the virus's spread.
Of course, nothing would be better than getting rid of Covid forever, which would enable the world to get back to normal. However, experts agree this is not likely to happen, and the best we can do is learn to accept that Covid is here to stay.
Professor Robert Dingwall from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Group said, "We have lived alongside viruses for millennia. We will do the same with Covid."
Like other experts, he believes that we must get used to the fact that Covid is now a part of our lives, and that Covid deaths will be inevitable on an ongoing basis. We must also accept that, like the flu, Covid will result in annual deaths even with vaccinations and treatments. But just how many annual Covid deaths would society consider acceptable?
Reducing the risks
One thing most scientists have agreed on is that we are no longer working toward eradicating Covid. Our aim is to reduce the risks through prevention and treatment as well as raised awareness and education. This could help the country to get back to some level of normality and the easing restrictions. However, even this could be difficult to achieve because of the emergence of new variants of the virus.
There will inevitably be continued deaths from Covid even with the vaccination programme in full swing. Every year, there are thousands of flu deaths across the country, and this is something we have all learned to accept and live with. Between 2016-2017, flu deaths reached around 15,000. This surged to 20,000 the following year but then fell to below 5,000 in 2018-2019.
When flu deaths peaked in 2017-2018, there was no major panic – things continued as usual, and people received their annual flu vaccinations as normal. Nothing was locked down, and nobody was furloughed – people just accepted the situation and continued with day-to-day life.
Will the same now happen with Covid?
People will eventually begin to view Covid deaths in a similar way to flu deaths. Over the past year, we have had to put up with thousands of people dying every week because of Covid and significant numbers of “excess deaths.” This is clearly something neither society nor Government is prepared to accept, hence the past year of lockdowns, restrictions, and rushed vaccination productions. However, it seems that thousands of deaths per year at similar levels to flu deaths is something that we will have to learn to accept.