Endemic or Pandemic

Angie SzumlinskiNews

The debate is on! Experts all over the globe are beginning a war of words with what the COVID-19 virus should now be called. Honestly, listening to them is confusing, and I can see both sides of the “argument”. One thing jumped out at me as I read an article in Becker’s Hospital Review, the majority of “endemic” fans are not researchers but rather politicians, whereas researchers still embrace the term “pandemic”.

For example, New Jersey Governor Philip Murphy was on Meet the Press and said, “we are not going to manage this to zero, we have to learn how to live with this”. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said, “We should remain vigilant, move toward treating the virus as endemic as more variants are inevitable”. Okay, I get it, it totally makes sense, right? Well, maybe not! Aris Katzourakis, Ph.D., stated in HealthManagement.org, that the word “endemic” is encouraging complacency and that the common cold is an endemic. According to Katzourakis, in an epidemiological context, “endemic” means that the infection rates are in equilibrium, neither rising nor falling, it does not describe the infection’s severity or its health consequences.

Hmmm….at the risk of politicizing the COVID-19 virus further, maybe the “endemic” proponents have more to gain from loosening up our fears and moving on with life? But how about the researchers? If we proclaim an endemic versus pandemic, will it decrease the amount of research needed to stay current on the virus? Unclear. At the end of the day, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, wear a mask in crowded places if you choose and of course stay home if you don’t feel well! Stay the course, stay informed and stay well!