What is a Pandemic & When Does an Epidemic Become Pandemic?

Pandemic is a global outbreak of a disease and there are numerous examples of it, the most recent being COVID-19 pandemic. A pandemic spreads to several countries, continents and affects a large percentage of the population.

What is a Pandemic?

According to Center of disease control and prevention (CDC), there is a difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and pandemic.(1)

An Outbreak is an increase in the number of cases of disease than expected, in a particular area. In the 2019 Ebola virus affected a large number of people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As it was contained there itself, it was declared as an outbreak.(3)

An Epidemic is an outbreak in a larger region. It differs from an outbreak only in degree. In 2013 and 2016 the Ebola had spread across Western Africa and was described as an epidemic.

A pandemic is an epidemic that spreads to several countries and affects a large percentage of the population. There was a Zika virus outbreak that began in Brazil in 2014 and had spread further to the Caribbean and Latin America and was known as an epidemic.

According to the U.S department of health and human services, there were a high number of deaths caused by the drug that was known as the opioid epidemic.(2) COVID-19 began as an epidemic in china making its way all through the world and becoming a pandemic.

It is not necessary that every epidemic becomes a pandemic.

An endemic infection is the one that remains stable in a way that it only infects an expected number of hosts in a way that is fairly understood. Parasite schistosomiasis can lead to severe infection but is usually contained within the tropical region in numbers that do not vary much.

When Does An Epidemic Become Pandemic?

When there are cases that involve travelers who get infected in a foreign country and return to their home country and those who have been infected by these travelers, it does not make an epidemic a pandemic. There needs to be a person to person spread throughout the community for it to be a pandemic.

Once a pandemic is declared, community spread would happen eventually and the government and healthcare professionals need to be prepared for the same.

SARS coronavirus infection that was identified in 2003, was not declared as pandemic as it had affected China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Canada. It spread was contained quickly.

What Are The Key Areas That Must Be Addressed In A Pandemic?

There are four key areas that need to be addressed by the government:

  • To be prepared and ready
  • Detect, protect, and treat the condition
  • Reduce its transmission
  • Innovate and learn

As COVID-19 has been declared as a pandemic, it is important for the countries to activate and sell up the emergency response mechanism to communicate the risks involves and inform the citizen about the ways they can protect themselves from contracting it.

It is an infectious disease and health officials need to isolate, test, and treat every case. They must also ensure that health workers are protected and trained to deal with the novel coronavirus.

There is not a need to panic in case of any pandemic. You just need to follow the advice given by the health authorities.

Avoiding crowds, using disinfectants on the areas that are touched the most, and keeping the hands clean by using sanitizer and washing, and avoiding touching face can help prevent the spread.

Is COVID-19 Worse Than Flu

The seriousness of flu varies every year. In most of the flu cases, the risk of death is 0.5 percent to .1 percent. COVID-19 is a more serious flu, the risk of death is running 3-4 percent and is, therefore, more serious than the flu that occurs every year.(4)

It is also recommended to use telemedicine whenever possible to avoid the risk of exposure to the healthcare system.

The risk of death from COVID-19 is more for elderly people and those with cardiovascular diseases and respiratory disease.

Pandemic is used for the disease with a worldwide spread. COVID -19 has been declared as a pandemic. Instead of panic, one should follow the guidelines given by the health officials to avoid getting infected.

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