Adapting to change

We’re in a weird time at the moment, where COVID cases are rising fast but, here in England, we’ve not (yet) introduced any of the additional control measures seen in other countries. The latter half of this sentence is music to the ears of some, who claim that we should learn to live with the virus and just get on with our lives. But this is to miss a crucial point. When change comes along, we need to adapt to survive.

At the time of writing this, we’re up to nearly 190,000 new cases each day. Furthermore, the number of people hospitalised with COVID has risen substantially, as has the number dying each day from the virus. Sure, the new variant appears less harmful than previous versions. And the vaccines provide a reasonable degree of immunity. But this is far from something to which we can just turn a blind eye.

And so it annoys me considerably when people – including some of our elected representatives, who I feel should know better – act as though COVID is nothing more than a mild annoyance. Something that can be safely set aside as we get back to ‘business as usual’. And who treat those of us who have concerns about the ongoing threat posed by the virus as work-shy crybabies who are too lazy to go back to the office.

I’m no epidemiologist, but it’s pretty clear that COVID isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Indeed, the things that cause pandemics rarely go away completely. The bubonic plague is still out there, for example. And the ‘flu continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year. We’ve eliminated smallpox, but it took a revolutionary global vaccine programme – and two hundred years – to do it.

So we will, I agree, probably have to find a way of ‘living with’ COVID, at least for the foreseeable future. But this does not mean simply getting back to how things were before and hoping for the best. Since Darwin’s time, we’ve known that the species that thrive are those that are best able to adapt to change. Well, change is upon us. And now it is incumbent upon us to adapt to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I don’t know what this adaptation will need to look like, but thankfully we have a broad range of scientists, doctors, public health professionals, psychologists and others to help us to iron out the details. However things might look in the future, though, stumbling blindly back to ‘business as usual’ with our fingers crossed will do us no favours. The world has changed, possibly forever. And we must now adapt to this change.

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