At the level of the individual human, coronavirus is an acute episode: contagion, infection, replication, symptoms, immune response, recovery/death. Granted, some of those who’ve contracted the virus continue to experience symptoms for an extended duration, and some suffer permanent organ damage even after recovering from the disease. But those are the exceptions: for most, corona constitutes a short-term interruption of ordinary life.
/——————-( )——— . . .
That’s the lifeline of a corona survivor: pre-infection — (infection) — post-infection. But a year ago the coronavirus didn’t even exist. Before the virus evolved there was no sense of anticipation — will I or won’t I catch it, will it be a bad case or a mild one, will I beat it or will it beat me? Even imagining the possibility of catching the virus had an acute onset, a bracket on the timeline that opened up in early 2020:
/—————-[–( )——— . . .
One day, maybe even during our lifetimes, an effective vaccine might be invented, not only eliminating the personal risk of infection but also eradicating the virus altogether from the planet.
/—————-[–( )—-]—— . . .
Though the coronavirus era will have come to an end, the individual’s memory — of having contracted the virus, having suffered symptoms, having recovered — will outlive it. The details will fade, or even degrade entirely in dementia; even the antibodies might forget. Even after every person who was ever infected by covid dies off, the covid era will persist in the collective memory banks of human history, in its impacts on science and the economy, in its disruptions of family lineages.
I suppose the same could be said of our species: it evolved, it persists for an interval, likely it will be extinguished; some traces of it will remain, if not in the historic archives of our posthuman successors then in the ruins we leave behind. But that’s not my concern right now.