After months of social distancing and trying to flatten the COVID-19 curve you may find yourself asking: when will this pandemic end?

Are we destined to spend the rest of our lives in quarantine?

At some point, the world health organization(WHO) will declare the global pandemic emergency to be over, but individual countries might have already beaten them to the the punch, while some other might still be battling the outbreak. According to doctors, Pandemics actually have two types of ending, a medical ending and a social ending.

Before we can talk about how pandemics end, we first have to understand what the “pandemic actually means”. A pandemic is defined as “an epidemic occurring worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people.

To find out, lets take a look back in time at how how some past pandemic have ended and see if there’s any hope of easing up on social distancing before 2020 is over.

Plague of Justinian

The Plague of Justinian is the first and the best known outbreak of the first plague pandemic, which continued to recur until the middle of the 8th century. Some historians believe the first plague pandemic was one of the deadliest pandemics in history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 25–100 million people during two centuries of recurrence, a death toll equivalent to almost half of Europe's population at the time of the first outbreak. As to how the plague ended, the best guess is that the majority of people in a pandemic somehow survive, and those who survive have immunity.

Black Death

Social Distancing and Quarantine Were Used in Medieval Times to Fight the Black Death. Starting in 1348, soon after the plague arrived in cities like Venice and Milan, city officials put emergency public health measures in place that foreshadowed today's best practices of social distancing and disinfecting surfaces. Black Death is strictly related to plague and dates back to 1377, when the Rector of the seaport of Ragusa (then belonging to the Venetian Republic) officially issued a 30-day isolation period for ships, that became 40 days for land travellers. 

The most popular theory of how the plague ended is through the implementation of quarantines. The uninfected would typically remain in their homes and only leave when it was necessary, while those who could afford to do so would leave the more densely populated areas and live in greater isolation.

The Great Plague of London

The Great Plague, lasting from 1665 to 1666, was the last major epidemic of the bubonic plague to occur in England. It happened within the centuries-long Second Pandemic, a period of intermittent bubonic plague epidemics which originated from Central Asia in 1331, the first year of the Black Death, an outbreak which included other forms such as pneumonic plague, and lasted until 1750.

Smallpox

After first contacts with Europeans and Africans, some believe that the death of 90–95% of the native population of the New World was caused by Old World diseases. It is suspected that smallpox was the chief culprit and responsible for killing nearly all of the native inhabitants of the Americas. Although The last known natural case was in Somalia in 1977. Since then, the only known cases were caused by a laboratory accident in 1978 in Birmingham, England, which killed one person and caused a limited outbreak. Smallpox was officially declared eradicated in 1979.

Cholera

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe watery diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and even death if untreated. It is caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae. 

Cholera requires immediate treatment because the disease can cause death within hours. Rehydration. The goal is to replace lost fluids and electrolytes using a simple rehydration solution, oral rehydration salts (ORS). The ORS solution is available as a powder that can be made with boiled or bottled water.

Whatever, happens, we’re going to need to learn to live with the disease and manage its spread while we wait for a medical ending to the pandemic. Learning to live in a world with COVID-19 doesn’t mean permanent quarantine. We can live our lives with a few modifications.