The COVID-19 pandemic exposed deep cracks in the health-care delivery system that have been patched up a bit to prevent and treat coronavirus but remain fundamentally in place, Parmet says.

The pandemic is taking the lives of 500 people on a daily basis still, and low-income people and those with underlying health issues will remain at highest risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, she says.

“There are going to be a lot of people who fall through the hole” in the health-care delivery system, Parmet says.

COVID-19 “might not be the emergency it was, but it is still an infectious disease,” she says.

“If I can’t afford to get tested, and I can’t afford to get vaccinated, and I walk around with COVID and I spread it to you, you may be more vulnerable.”

“You not only hurt the person who can’t get tested, you hurt the people they interact with. So it affects population level risk,” Parmet says.

The country is in a period of transition now in regards to the pandemic, Maniar says.

“Unfortunately, we will face future pandemics so we can’t take our eye off the ball. There are a lot of things we learned over the course of this pandemic and a lot of areas for improvement that were identified,” he says.

“This is our opportunity to address those things to ensure that when the next pandemic arrives–because it’s not an if it’s a when—we will be far more prepared than we were this time around,” Maniar says.