As pressure to lift the current lockdown restrictions mounts, one writer considers the reality of what “normal” we’re facing without a coronavirus vaccine.
If you asked me how I’d rate my handling of the coronavirus crisis so far, I’d give myself a solid seven out of 10. Sure, I’ve had my few random bouts of tears and occasional panic, but overall, I’m quite impressed with how my anxiety has been holding up throughout all of this.
You see, as someone who deals with anxiety on a regular basis, I expected things to be a whole lot worse. When the outbreak first arrived in the UK, I was pretty much a puddle of worry. I was scared of passing the virus on to the people I loved – every trip outside came with an influx of anxiety over what I’d touched or who I’d come into contact with.
But lockdown alleviated that. I’m privileged to be able to work from home during this crisis, and despite the fact that my parents are still having to work, they’re taking things very seriously to try and keep themselves safe. Same goes for my grandparents – while they’re struggling with the isolation side of things as the lockdown drags on, they’re staying safe at home. My worst fears about the virus had, I thought, passed.
But then came the talk of a “second wave”. Without a vaccine, ministers have warned, the country may end up facing a second wave of infections when lockdown restrictions are lifted, because only a small portion of the country has actually had coronavirus so far. That means that, even if we find ourselves returning to some semblance of “normal” over the next couple of months, the threat of another peak will continue to loom over us.
This is something I, like many people, hadn’t even considered (probably because I’m not an expert in pandemics, but still). Over the weekend, however, it hit me. This virus could pose a threat to lives across the country for months and months to come. The easing of lockdown restrictions won’t mean the end of things – there’ll be no moment of relief and celebration if and when pubs and restaurants reopen.
My dream of returning to an anxiety-free “normal” has dissipated – and I’m more scared of coronavirus than ever before.
Why? Because the idea of lockdown restrictions being lifted – of returning to work, of being able to see loved ones, travelling on a train, going about daily life – is terrifying without a guarantee that we’ll be safe.
I’m also struggling to comprehend the idea of all of this happening again. At least 20,000 people have died from coronavirus so far – how many more lives would likely be lost if we were to face a second or third wave? It’s a lot to think about.
For now, I’m taking every day as it comes – even as it becomes harder to shake my fear of what’s coming next. Last week, the first human trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine began in Oxford. Every day, people are working on the NHS frontline to save lives, finding out more about this virus in the process.
I have all the hope in the world that we can beat this virus eventually – and that’s what I’m trying to hold on to.
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