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There’s no doubt that if one thing has affected our lives more than anything else over the past 18 months, it’s the pandemic. Yet even as vaccines get rolled out and life attempts to return to normality in many corners of the world, as people begin the get tired of the restrictions on their lives, the shadow of Covid-19 still looms over us, as an ever-threatening shadow. Despite the discontent throughout the population of the world overall, however, there have been warnings that things could get worse before they get better.

Such an idea – that many have not seen the worst of the pandemic, is almost impossible to believe. Yet, UK experts warn that the rise of vaccinated people and the reduction in mask wearing may mean that the country could be facing a two-fold issue as the winter flu also threatens to cause upheaval over the next few months. Flu numbers for winter 2020-2021 were much lower than previous years – this is thought to be because the mask mandates in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also slowed transmission of other common winter viruses, including colds and flu.

This year, however, things are very different. Many people are of the belief that having both COVID-19 vaccines makes them invincible, or at the very least immune to COVID-19. It has previously been proven that this is not the case, that vaccination can lessen the symptoms, severity, and length of the COVID-19 illness. While people are desperate to feel normality again, and any further lockdown is likely to endanger an already fragile UK economy the fear of even more deaths is a real worry for the NHS and members of the scientific community.

So what do we do? So many of us are afraid for our jobs on the one hand, and our lives on the other. It seems easy to say we’re tired of this muted way of life that the pandemic has brought, especially as so many die and yet more fight against vaccine and mask mandates for the right to ‘freedom’. What many don’t seem to realise, is that without stopping the spread of the virus as much and as quickly as we can, we are losing our freedoms, and our lives. It is no doubt a difficult balance, but one at the end of the day could be rectified by a single simple idea – compassion and consideration for others. Really, if anything has been revealed over the last 18  months, it is that so many, too many people, lack empathy for those around them who are not in their immediate circle – emphasising the idea that has grown more and more prominent – that ‘if it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t matter.

With such concerns as these, hope that the pandemic may be over by the end of the year, or even by the end of 2022 dwindling, it seems that the best we can do for now is reflect on what this virus has brought us, and how we should tread next, even if just on an individual level.

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