An article published this month in the Scientific American suggests that it's people, and not science, who decide when a pandemic is over.
Put simply, a pandemic is over when people stop caring about it - a point in time that can arguably only be identified or pinpointed many years after the fact.
The 1918 flu pandemic, for example, had three waves, the second being the deadliest and most infamous.
There was in fact a fourth wave, even deadlier than the second, but by then immunity was high and hardly any restrictions were being imposed.
Everyone was fed up. By 1921, it was all but over.
It's been exactly two years this week since life changed forever. The ACT, in line with NSW and Victoria, entered its first lockdown and no one knew what to expect.
We had watched anxiously for the last few months, as cities around the world were plunged into chaos. We knew we were next, but we had no idea what it would look like.
It felt like dominoes at first, large-scale events cancelling, institutions closing doors, like shutting down gradually, and then all at once.
None of us could have imagined that, two years later, we're still raw from the experience.
Lockdowns, in some form or another, are still drearily familiar, masks are common, travel in all its forms is still, for many, a prospect laden with anxiety.
And, crucially, cases are still rising, both here and throughout the world.
Tens of thousands of people have COVID at any given time in Australia, and experiences of infection range from dire - hospitalisation and/or days of being bed-ridden and ill - to those of the mild cold/barely know I've had it variety.
Children are now largely vaccinated in Canberra, but a fourth vaccine dose is now well and truly on the cards as we ease into autumn, with winter in sight.
Case numbers are still being recorded and reported daily in these pages, and public opinion varies as to whether we can afford to relax and start putting the pandemic behind us.
But the fact that our lives are still very much ruled by COVID, whether we like it or not, means that it is definitely not over.
Surely no historian, decades into the future, will look at this period we're in and decree that the public had moved on.
Certainly the signs are that we are headed in that direction. There's no talk now of large-scale lockdown or school closures, and early fears of mass absences in schools have not been realised in most schools.
We have, as the catchphrase now goes, learnt to live with COVID in a way we never could have foreseen back in March, 2020, although the trauma it has inflicted on families, front-line health workers and legions of others will last for many more years.
But it may one day look like a distinct period - punctuated by other seismic events, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the war in Ukraine, the NSW floods - that eventually petered out into something else. It will one day be in the past.
But for the moment, we are not at the point where we have stopped talking about it.
Exhausted and fed up, yes. Willing to accept the costs of returning to normal, yes.
But when the news is still peppered with case numbers, death counts, fourth jabs and an economy still teetering, we are still well and truly in the pandemic phase.
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