Here we go again.
The above sentence has probably crossed my mind hundreds of times over the past nine months or so with the advent of the Delta and Omicron variants. Now we are hearing about this new BA.2 variant that is plaguing the UK and other parts of Europe. In the cases of the Delta and Omicron variants, what’s happening over there is usually a good indication of what’s about to happen here. Though it’s uncertain whether we will truly get another deadly wave of this dreaded virus in the next few weeks, we have seen this story unfold three times now with the original strain, Delta and Omicron.
I’m no epidemiologist, and I don’t claim to know how diseases work. All I know is that we have been stuck in this horrible and maddening cycle of: wave, decline of wave, cautious optimism, new wave. The vaccines that were promised to end the pandemic have worked to some degree, but people are still dying by the thousands, and lives have not been restored in the way officials said they would be. Government leaders and schools alike are ending mask mandates, and most businesses are no longer requiring vaccine passports. In some sense, it feels like the United States is just giving up and letting people take their own chances. Whether that’s the right thing to do requires an essay a mile long, and even then, there would still probably need to be more written.
The fact of the matter is that we are stuck in this aforementioned cycle of cautiously believing that we’re turning the corner of this pandemic and then being smacked in the face right as we peek around it. Everything we have tried to stop has failed, leading to devastating results (and again, why those results occurred could be debated endlessly). Many health leaders have claimed this pandemic to be unpredictable, which it is in some respect. But we have gotten to a point where it is one variant after the other with a small break in between. We keep getting teased with the light at the end of the tunnel, and then it quickly fades away, something that is endlessly frustrating to those who wish to return to normal.
My point is, no one knows when this pandemic will end. The finish line has been moved further and further back, and I want to acknowledge the feelings of pandemic fatigue we are all feeling to some extent. We have been cheated out of so much; in some cases, “cheated” may be too light of a word to use. But hopefully as this disease continues to mutate it will become weaker and more common like the flu as many professionals say it will. And though true “normal” — where we don’t have to look over our shoulders for this invisible antigen — will probably not be back for a few years, we definitely are not where we were in the summer of 2020. We just have to keep on running towards that line.