I’ve been infected with COVID three times. Once during the Alpha wave, once during the Delta wave and just recently, a few weeks ago, during the Omicron wave. I am vaccinated and boosted, AstraZeneca primary dose with Pfizer booster, and I mask as often as possible. I only put off my mask for the briefest of moments when blowing nose or drinking for example.

The only prolonged period of time that I’ve remained unmasked is during a brief trip to the seaside — half way through which I developed symptoms of COVID. I’ve personally had relatively mild cases, but I’ve had family members who passed away. My Uncle and Aunt passed away first, and then my cousin — he was several decades younger than me and this was a significant shock to me.

I have two kids who are barely 2 years old, and one 4 year old. The first two times I got COVID, I successfully isolated and so none of them got it from me. This time though, we all got it. My youngest kids, the 2 year old twins, had it the worst. I was very worried about them — consistent fever close to 40C that refused to go down with all conventional antipyretics. I had to resort to an antipyretic that is not recommended, I don’t know what it’s called in English, but the Arabic roughly translates to “dolphin”.

As previously mentioned, I have been doing my best to protect my family — even having strong arguments with my significant other when she, in my opinion, did something that I thought exposed us to unnecessary risk. And yet I got the disease three times and my wife and kids got infected during the Omicron wave.

I’ve been recently asking myself, “when will this be over?” My oldest is going to pre-school this year, and that probably means that we will all be exposed to daily risk. But I can’t destroy her education and future because of this disease. I’ve been virtually isolating us and we still managed to get infected.

When will this be over? When can we resume going to restaurants, normal schooling, normal socializing, without the risk of getting infected? I have no problem with getting yearly shots, like I do for the flu, but I need some sort of baseline safety guarantees. Will doing everything right provide reasonable protection for my kids who are too young to get vaccinated — at least given the shots we have here in Egypt? How about my mother, who is above 70 years old? How can I protect them while not destroying their mental health at the same time?

I know “when will this be over?” is a difficult question to answer, but without at least some estimate of when it will be safe, I find it very difficult to manage expectations. When my wife tells me she is fed up with the safeguards I have in place and asks when she can visit her family regularly without worrying, I have no answer. When my kids want to go out to play in public areas and I tell them not now, and my eldest asks me when, I have no answer.

When my mother wants to see the kids and I have a bit of a sore throat — something that happens quite often as I have chronic sinusitis and I am recovering from fungal sinusitis surgery, I tell her not to come see them. This hurts her emotionally and she keeps asking me, “when will I see them?” — to which I have no answer.

I think if the rate of hospitalization and death from COVID approaches that of the flu, then at least we can go back to some semblance of normality. But when will that happen? Many countries have stopped even reporting statistics — how will we know when it will be safe?

I want to say it’s over and to get on with my life, but I know very well that it isn’t. It is very frustrating to live in this limbo state, not knowing when we will get back to normal. If anyone has any answers, I would be very happy if they let me know.

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