The need to recalibrate our COVID-19 response

The success of the country’s COVID response depends on the implementation of directives from the authorities. But as our understanding of the virus changes, so too should our response to it. Just recently, the World Health Organization updated its information to acknowledge that the coronavirus is transmitted through short-range aerosol transmission.

To quote its April 30, 2021 update: “Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 meter (short-range). A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 meter (long-range).”

This comes over a year after the pandemic was declared. For this, the WHO received backlash from members of the scientific community who found the revision much too late. Nevertheless, the change in the health guidance shows that our knowledge about this crisis is not set in stone. And so should our response to it. As we have said again and again in this space, our actions should be based on what available data we have—not on biases, superstition, or the disgusting amount of fake news that is circulating.

Sadly, many have gotten lax towards following even the most basic health protocols. Perhaps they forget that this virus is still not something we fully understand. Perhaps they have gotten desensitized to the rate of infection or even the death toll. Or perhaps, in their excessive arrogance, they have not gotten around to grasping the gravity of the pandemic more than a year after it began.