History Tells Us What Might Happen Next With The Covid-19 Pandemic

Unfortunately, the coronavirus could be here to stay.

Matt Lillywhite
4 min readFeb 18, 2021
Photo by Matteo Jorjoson on Unsplash

The global situation is starting to improve. Daily case counts of Covid-19 are gradually decreasing around the United States. There is a decline in hospitalizations and deaths throughout the country. Plus, vaccines are finally being rolled out to larger segments of the population. But of course, the virus is still present in the United States and around the world.

With new variants popping up quite often, it’s clear we’ve still got a way to go before the pandemic is officially over. But what will happen next? In order to understand the future, we should try and look back at the past.

During the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the influenza strain continued to mutate and adapt in a process named “antigenic drift.” This is because a large percentage of the planet had been exposed to the virus and developed a level of natural immunity against it.

Throughout the winters of 1919–1921, subtly altered forms of the 1918 flu reemerged. However, they were much less lethal and almost impossible to distinguish from the seasonal flu.

Every seasonal and pandemic flu over the past century seems to be the direct ancestor of the same novel strain of influenza first introduced in 1918. That’s what happened in 1957 when the 1918 flu exchanged genetic material with a bird flu that gave us the H2N2 pandemic that claimed a million lives around the world. In 1968, with the creation of the so-called “Hong Kong Flu,” a similar influenza virus killed upwards of a million people. The 2009 pandemic of “Swine Flu” happened when people who got infected with the 1918 influenza virus passed it on to pigs.

The truth is that the 1918 flu never really went away. Instead, it evolved into many other strains, which ended up causing other pandemics many decades in the future. However, the quality of healthcare rapidly improved, and society learned to live with it.

4.2 billion Covid-19 vaccines have been obtained by high-income countries worldwide. Meanwhile, lower-income countries have only secured 270 million vaccines. Many of the wealthiest nations in the world have ordered…