How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed after two years?

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. exhale / ɛksˈheɪl / (v.) – to breathe air out of one’s lungs

    An example of a calming technique is breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly.

  2. ventilate / ˈvɛn tlˌeɪt / (v.) – to allow fresh air to enter and move around a closed place such as a room or a building, usually after it’s been used or contaminated

    They opened the windows to ventilate the café when the customers left.

  3. variant / ˈvɛər i ənt / (n.) – a kind of virus, or a disease that’s a bit different from other forms, especially because the virus causing it has changed physically

    The newest variant of the disease is a lot milder than the first.

  4. antibody / ˈæntɪˌbɑːdi / (n.) – a substance produced by the body to fight bacteria, viruses, etc.

    You can be protected from certain diseases if your body produced more antibodies against them.

  5. be on the lookout for / bi ɒn ðə ˈlʊkˌaʊt fɔr / (idiom) – to watch out for or be alert to

    Be on the lookout for pickpockets, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar area.


Read the text below.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed after two years?

More countries are shifting toward a return to normal and learning to live with the virus. Safe, effective vaccines have been developed and there’s better understanding of how to treat people sickened by the virus.

Two years after the pandemic began, questions remain about the coronavirus. But experts know a lot more about how to keep it under control.

The virus mainly spreads through the air when an infected person exhales, talks, coughs or sneezes. It’s why health officials have encouraged the use of masks and ventilating spaces, instead of focusing on advice to wipe down surfaces as they did early on.

Treatment has also evolved for people who get sick or need to be hospitalized. Among the options are antivirals, such as the drug remdesivir, or newer pills from Pfizer and Merck; anti-inflammatory drugs including steroids; and depending on what variant is circulating, lab-made antibodies to attack the virus.

“The world has watched us learn in real-time how to treat COVID-19,” says Neil J. Sehgal, an assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

COVID-19 vaccines were also developed in record time. As of early March, 10 vaccines have been cleared for emergency use by the World Health Organization.

Still, distribution of vaccines has been unequal despite an international effort to deliver shots more fairly and misinformation has fueled hesitancy about the shots.

And there’s still much left to learn. Studies are underway to better understand long COVID-19, which can persist for months after an initial infection. And scientists are on the lookout for the next fast-spreading variant.

“Eventually every country will have to learn to live with COVID,” says Sehgal.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • When the pandemic was just beginning, did you think that treatment will be available within two years? What were you feeling while waiting for the development of COVID-19 treatments (ex. hopeful, worried)? Why? Discuss.
  • According to the article, distribution of vaccines has been unequal despite an international effort to deliver shots more fairly. How do you think vaccine distribution can be more equal (ex. assign international bodies to control the flow of supply)? Do you think countries that receive greater supplies of vaccines should be held accountable? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What has changed two years after COVID-19 started in your country? In your experience, did the pandemic have unexpectedly positive effects? Discuss.
  • Sehgal mentioned that eventually, every country will have to learn to live with COVID-19. Do you agree with his statement? Why or why not? How do you think this will be possible (ex. always require masks, redesign public facilities)? Discuss.