The Making of an Endemic Disease

October 6, 2021 Updated: October 10, 2021


When does a pandemic end? How does a pandemic end? These were the questions I was asking myself after Megyn Kelly hosted Dr. Monica Gandhi on her podcast last week. As it turns out, sooner or later, we’ll have to admit that our COVID-19 pandemic is morphing into the endemic stage of the disease.

A disease can be classified as endemic when it’s “persisting in a population or region, generally having settled to a relatively constant rate of occurrence,” or, as Dr. Gandhi put it, you’ve reached endemic levels of a disease when “it’s gone down to a level where you live with it.”

The end goal of manageable endemic levels of disease was originally openly embraced. Our “two weeks to slow the spread” game plan was focused on preventing the hospital system from being overwhelmed while also acknowledging that the disease would indeed circulate. We initially set out clearly defined goalposts and pragmatically plotted a course forward.

Then we started moving the goalposts further and further away. As lockdowns dragged on, long-term goals became ill-defined. All of a sudden, the dialogue turned from keeping COVID-19 levels manageable to eradicating it entirely. The new endgame was zero cases. In other words, the goalposts were not just moved—they were entirely dismantled.

If our objective is wiping COVID-19 off the face of the Earth, we’ll have to hunker down for the rest of time. Gandhi says, “I’m sorry to say this because a lot of people don’t think this, but we’re not going to eradicate COVID.”

High transmissibility, low vaccination rates, breakthrough cases, booster shots reserved for select portions of the population, and the movement of people across regions and borders all mean one thing: COVID-19 can’t and won’t be contained.

And yet many of our leaders have refused to accept the endemic future of our present pandemic. Reopening dates have been pushed back further and further: Spring 2020 … Fall 2021 … until we hit a certain vaccination rate … as soon as we’re all vaccinated—the end is always just in sight, and then it changes yet again.

Soon we’ll be able to hug our family members again, they told us. But the deadlines have come and gone. Lockdowns have dragged on and even ratcheted to new heights, such as in Australia. Now Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s too soon to tell if we can host Christmas gatherings this year. But are we really still waiting for his permission? If our elites can have their maskless Met Gala, you best be sure I’ll be having eggnog with Grandma this Christmas.

Any pragmatic policymaker should realize there will be no “back to the way it was before.” Just as countless other viruses regularly and seasonally circulate, COVID-19 will join the ranks of endemic diseases. It’s unfortunate, but it’s our reality—our “new normal.” We must accept that there will be no stuffing this disease back into Pandora’s box.

But that doesn’t mean we must throw up our hands in defeat. We can still take reasonable precautions in our daily lives and assume personal responsibility. We can and must continue to protect the vulnerable. Fortunately, the recently approved booster shots appear to be a great way to insulate the at-risk from inordinate danger.

In short, we can and should learn to live our lives again. We must reconstruct the goalposts and keep them in place by deciding what acceptable endemic levels look like for our nation. Other countries such as Denmark have already done so with success thus far. Only then can we work to make progress against COVID-19 with a clear mission in mind.

Life will go on.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rikki Schlott is a writer and student based in New York City. As a young free speech activist, her writing chronicles the rise of illiberalism from a Generation Z perspective. Schlott also works for "The Megyn Kelly Show" and has been published by The Daily Wire and The Conservative Review.