WHAT IS A PANDEMIC? HOW LONG DOES IT LAST? UA DOCTOR ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS

It’s been nearly a month since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, leading some to wonder: what is a pandemic?

A pandemic is a global outbreak of disease, and the world now knows what it’s like living during one.

“A pandemic is an epidemic that goes over a broad geographical area and is usually defined when WHO, the World Health Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, makes a proclamation, which it has done that,” said University of Alabama Department of Community Medicine and Population Health Chair Dr. John Higginbotham. “They did that quite a while back with COVID-19.”

Higginbotham hopes life will go back to normal by fall.

“The best way we can do that is by continuing our social distancing and try to do that,” Higginbotham said. “As we learned from history in 1918, it came in three waves, so we really won’t know what will happen until it happens.”

Pandemics occur when a novel virus surfaces, and because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide. Higginbotham said the COVID-19 pandemic will change how health systems operate moving forward.

“This system will change the way we do medicine,” Higginbotham said. “We are going to have to do things that are more telemedicine. We are starting to get into that.”

Higginbotham feels the awareness that has come with this pandemic is positive.

“I hope everyone begins to see how their individual actions actually have an impact,” Higginbotham said. “For someone who isolates themselves, it really does help them from getting it. But it also helps the people they are in contact with from getting it as well. We really have to understand that we have a social responsibility not just for our own health, but for those around us.”

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