The Last 4 Years of the COVID Pandemic


Approximately 4 years of COVID-19…




Just as there is no clear date for when the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, there is no clear date for when it ended, for it has not! Yet, at least for me, March 15, 2020, is as good as any to try to put the COVID years in some social psychiatric perspective because at least the current danger has become much less by today—March 15, 2024. The social lockdown, with all its controversy and conflict, has disappeared, as has most masking. Vaccinations, especially boosters for those over 65, are still involved. We can learn from history, but not if we forget about it.

One of my clear and striking memories is that I had no good idea about what we were facing. I was at an emergency Board of Directors meeting at our local Jewish Community Center, and as the only physician, suggested that it likely would be about over in 3 to 4 weeks. It turned out to be 3 to 4 years and counting. So much for hubris and my prophetic abilities.

Since I was retired from clinical care, I was fortunate in one sense to avoid the need to provide live clinical care in a hospital or online with Zoom. Yet, I felt much ambivalence and some guilty regret that I could not contribute to the unique clinical needs. Instead, I did what I could when the opportunity arose in Psychiatric Times to provide a weekly brief video on psychiatry and society starting in October of 2020, as well as an ensuing weekday daily column on similar subjects that started in September of 2021. Although COVID has wound down, the collection of other social psychiatric challenges has not.

Although live social interactions, which I much prefer, were drastically cut down, I also had the benefit of being at home with my wife of over 50 years. It was an opportunity that only provided benefits as we navigated our external limitations but internal relationship closeness and possibilities.

Inevitably, such unanticipated risks to life evoke spiritual and religious attention, and so that emerged for me too. My participation on interfaith psychiatry and societal platforms increased. My colleagues and I decided to continue with our edited series of books on psychiatry and religions, adding a volume on Christianity and Psychiatry as well as one in process about the Eastern Religions, Spirituality and Psychiatry to add to the prior ones on Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism, all for Springer.

Despite cautionary behavior, I did get infected twice, with the first time feeling I might die, but gratefully without long COVID aftereffects. Yet, even if COVID-19 dissipates more, there will be other pandemic risks in the future. Bird flu, via the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, is already posing a big threat to the world’s wildlife, and even to some humans in Asia.1 There is a preventive measure to take, which is ending worldwide poultry farms.

Taken all together, the uncertainly for the future and extreme risks to health led to greater appreciation for what I took for granted and what gave meaning to our lives. The 4 prior COVID years are not ones that should be ignored and repressed, but a message for better preparation and appreciation for what could be lost. At least it was for me. What has it been for you and your patients?

Dr Moffic is an award-winning psychiatrist who specialized in the cultural and ethical aspects of psychiatry and is now in retirement and retirement as a private pro bono community psychiatrist. A prolific writer and speaker, he has done a weekday column titled “Psychiatric Views on the Daily News” and a weekly video, “Psychiatry & Society,” since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. He was chosen to receive the 2024 Abraham Halpern Humanitarian Award from the American Association for Social Psychiatry. Previously, he received the Administrative Award in 2016 from the American Psychiatric Association, the one-time designation of being a Hero of Public Psychiatry from the Speaker of the Assembly of the APA in 2002, and the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in 1991. He is an advocate and activist for mental health issues related to climate instability, physician burnout, and xenophobia. He is now editing the final book in a 4-volume series on religions and psychiatry for Springer: Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, Christianity, and now The Eastern Religions, and Spirituality. He serves on the Editorial Board of Psychiatric Times.


1. Plaza PI, Gamarra-Toledo V, Eugui V, Lambertucci SA. Recent changes in patterns of mammal infection with highly pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus worldwide. Emerg Infect Dis. 2024;30(3):444-452.

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