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'COVID will always be with us:' B.C. expert on the pandemic, where we're going

Last Updated Apr 29, 2021 at 11:07 pm PDT

FILE -- This 2020 electron microscope image provided by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles which causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in a lab. Coronaviruses, including the newest one, are named for the spikes that cover their outer surface like a crown, or corona in Latin. Using those club-shaped spikes, the virus latches on to the outer wall of a human cell, invades it and replicates, creating viruses to hijack more cells. (NIAID-RML via AP)

A B.C. doctor says a lot has to happen before we get back to some semblance of normal

An expert says a return to normal will be 'slow and steady' rather than sudden

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — It’s probably not the news you were hoping to hear, but an expert says many aspects of the “new normal” ushered in by the global pandemic are here to stay.

“COVID will always be with us, we’ll always have to be a little bit careful. We’re thinking that after this first round of vaccination, we will need a booster,” says Dr. Brian Conway, Medical Director at the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

While we’ve all heard the phrase “post-pandemic world,” Conway says a lot has to happen before we get back to some semblance of normal.

“I think that will take a very long time that we will measure in years. But I think once everyone is vaccinated, once the number of cases is much lower — significantly below 100, on an ongoing and sustained basis every day — and when we have acquired the capability to diagnose each and every case of COVID-19 very quickly, trace the contacts quickly, and eliminate the risk of ongoing transmission, I think these are the things that are needed to be in place for us to develop a full new normal” says Conway.

While we’ve all become experts at hand washing and social distancing, Conway says the shot is key to stopping the spread and ending the pandemic.

And while so much of the future remains uncertain, Conway says there’s one thing that we should definitely consign to the pre-COVID past.

“No one can go to work sick, ever, especially with respiratory symptoms,” he says.

Over the last 13 months, we’ve all been inundated with new information. While some of what we once thought was true is not, but a lot of the lessons learned will stay with us.

“If I compare April 2020 to March of 2021, we have learned how the virus is transmitted, and more importantly, how it is not [transmitted]. We will recall last spring that we were even concerned that walking by someone in a very fleeting manner might transmit the viral infection, and we know that’s not the case,” Conway says.

“We’re going to wash our hands more than we did before. We’re going to practice social distancing, not in a way we’re doing now, but in a way that kind of makes sense to avoid transmission of viral infections such as COVID-19 and the flu. And slowly but surely we’ll emerge into what will feel is a comfortable new normal.”

Listen to the full interview with Dr. Brian Conway.