– George Santayana

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way we interact with the environment. As rules become lax and individuals profit from spreading disinformation, we are in another rising wave of COVID-19 cases. The spread of new variants adds fuel to the fire as it begins to poke holes in our already thin defenses. Will we ever see the end of this pandemic, or will it linger and become part of the global zeitgeist? This pandemic has led us to re-evaluate what we believe to be important, and in this issue of IMMpress Magazine, we consider its effects in this new post-pandemic world.

This issue begins with an infographic tracing the path left by COVID-19 in 2021, and the progress of the Canadian and global vaccination campaigns (p. 8). We follow this with a look into mRNA vaccines, from their discovery to their versatility (p. 10). We then discuss long COVID, its symptoms and epidemiology, and its lasting effects (p. 12). Those of us fortunate enough to not have contracted COVID-19 are nevertheless not spared from the disease, as it has undoubtedly affected our mental, if not physical, health (p. 22). This is doubly true for children who had to endure a quarantine during a critical growth period (p. 14). For adults, the shift to working virtually is changing how, or at the very least bringing into question the way in which, we work (p. 20). One consequence of returning to work is the implementation of vaccine passports and contact tracing as a way to keep everyone safe. However, it is important to consider the ethical and legal implications of such policies (p. 21, 25). As we in Canada are considering re-opening, we need to understand that many low-to-middle income countries are still unable to acquire or make their own vaccines (p. 24). Looking back on how we could improve our responses to the pandemic, we discuss Canada’s lack of vaccine production capacity (p. 26), our lockdown protocols compared to those worldwide (p. 28), and the inequalities in our healthcare system that were thrust to the forefront during the pandemic (p. 30).

We would like to extend our utmost gratitude to our team of writers, designers, and editors for their tireless work on this issue. To highlight the resilience of our community, we feature an exclusive interview with current Department of Immunology students, detailing how they dealt with the pandemic and what they are looking forward to once the pandemic is over (p. 34). Please make sure to give it a read! Finally, we would like to welcome Philip Barbulescu as the incoming Co-Editor-in-Chief to replace Pailin Chiaranunt, who has put in tremendous time and effort in ensuring each issue is the best it could be.

While COVID-19 may not be over, let us remain optimistic for the future and what may come of it. The pandemic may have forced us apart physically, but it has also brought many of us closer together. Undoubtedly, this pandemic has highlighted how we are all in this together and that our actions have lasting impacts on others.

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