Home   News   Article

DR TIM ALLISON: What have we learned from the Covid emergency?

By Dr Tim Allison

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
It would be a mistake to think that the coronavirus is no longer a concern.
It would be a mistake to think that the coronavirus is no longer a concern.

The World Health Organization recently announced that Covid is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.

There was some coverage of this in the media but given the huge effect that Covid has had on our lives over more than three years we could be forgiven for wondering why there have not been banner headlines and street parties. To paraphrase TS Eliot, perhaps this is the way the pandemic ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

Why has there not been more of a fanfare about the end of the international emergency? Other stories have taken over the headlines such as the Coronation and the continuing war in Ukraine, but Covid is less in the news largely because most of the control measures have already been relaxed and because fewer people are becoming seriously ill with Covid.

The effective vaccination programmes and increasing immunity among the population have meant that Covid is much less of a threat than it was earlier in the pandemic.

Yet the pandemic and Covid are still here, and it would be a mistake to think that the virus is no longer a concern. Covid is still circulating within the community and remains a risk especially for the vulnerable and people who are not vaccinated. It is also following on where other viruses have gone before and seems certain to be with us for the foreseeable future.

Dr Tim Allison.
Dr Tim Allison.

It joins with the large number of viruses that can continue to infect us like influenza. But like influenza and like many other viruses we do have effective vaccines. There is a current programme for Covid booster vaccination for older and more vulnerable people and it is highly likely that there will be a more general booster vaccination programme later in the year. It is important that we take up the vaccination offer when invited so that we can keep up our level of protection.

So, what have we learned from the Covid public health emergency? It has reminded us that infections have by no means been conquered and that we are still vulnerable to viruses too small to be seen by the eye or even most microscopes. It has reminded us that what we do affects our own health and the health of those around us.

When it comes to infections, our health and behaviour affects others and theirs affects ours. The public health emergency has also taught us the importance of work across communities to help others and to help the whole population. This started with people giving practical help and support to their vulnerable neighbours during lockdown and included the development and delivery of vaccines both quickly and effectively.

As Covid continues to fade from the headlines we would be wise to remember these lessons.

Dr Tim Allison is NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy.

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More