Why is ‘Pandemic Fatigue’ On the Rise?

Pandemic fatigue
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When the coronavirus was declared a public health emergency back in spring, there was widespread panic in people around the world. In the midst of the coronavirus-anxiety, people took drastic steps in order to prevent catching the infection. However, pandemic fatigue has now changed worldwide attitudes towards the virus significantly.

Prior to the end of lockdowns in many countries, the majority hoarded everyday necessities and piled up on food in order to avoid going outdoors for any activity. Ways to disinfect houses, groceries, and different items overflowed the internet and social media websites.

The fear of having the infection even made some people believe unverified and bogus remedies, many of which landed them in the emergency rooms of the hospitals.

Every other day, doctors reported treating cases of poisoning from disinfecting houses to those in which people ended up drinking disinfecting cleaners in order to avoid catching the coronavirus.

Over time, warnings and prevalence of verified guidelines about the prevention of coronavirus reduced the occurrence of these events. However, in addition to fewer incidents of people believing false remedies, the number of people following actual instructions has also gone down.

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Why is this so? According to human behavioral experts, the lack of willingness to follow guidelines in people, which is becoming more and more common with the passing time is nothing new.

People tend to develop pandemic fatigue and stop being as careful as they used to be before. Human reaction to a crisis begins with anxiety-ridden decisions and taking drastic measures such as buying a lot of food just in case of becoming neutral and then being afraid at all within time.

Usually, it takes six months on average for people to develop fatigue. This has not only happened in coronavirus pandemic. Scientists have noted such behaviors when it comes to all health guidelines.

This also includes switching to a healthier lifestyle by changing diet and going to the gym. Initially, people will follow a strict routine. Within a few weeks, their adherence to the new routine will decrease and six months later they are likely to engage in their old habits or experience a ‘relapse’.

Pandemic fatigue is, therefore, normal and expected human behavior. Typically, many also justify their behavior using their risk of susceptibility as a reason.

This means that people analyze their chances of catching an infection and risk of developing a severe form of it by looking at the latest trends and research. With coronavirus, scientists were able to estimate the exact number of cases and bring down its overall mortality rate with time.

So, people are currently aware that while the US has the highest number of cases, the rate of death is only three percent and only a small portion of the population has actually been infected.

Keeping these factors in mind, most people assume that their own risk of catching and dying from the coronavirus is also low. However, this is true to only an extent.

Health experts state that even if the risk of developing coronavirus complications in a person is low, following guidelines is still fundamental as it also protects other people.


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