Here in the United States, we are currently in the grip of this idea that somehow we are almost at the end of this after a month long lockdown that has mitigated the virus and that life is about to return to normal after “Reopening America” in May, but all the evidence suggests not really.
“(CNN) The new coronavirus is likely to keep spreading for at least another 18 months to two years—until 60% to 70% of the population has been infected, a team of longstanding pandemic experts predicted in a report released Thursday.
They recommended that the US prepare for a worst-case scenario that includes a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter. Even in a best-case scenario, people will continue to die from the virus, they predicted.
“This thing’s not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people,” Mike Osterholm, who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, told CNN.
“The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology.
“Osterholm has been writing about the risk of pandemics for 20 years and has advised several presidents. He wrote the report along with Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who is also a top expert on pandemics; Dr. Kristine Moore, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who is now medical director for CIDRAP; and historian John Barry, who wrote the 2004 book “The Great Influenza” about the 1918 flu pandemic. …”
In February, Donald Trump and the GOP decided to “ride it out” and treat it as “just the flu” and go for herd immunity. Unlike New Zealand or Australia, it is probably too late now to put the genie back in the bottle in the United States. China was right to crush the curve to avoid this ordeal.
Where do we go from here?
“Scenario 1: The first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 is followed by a series of repetitive smaller waves that occur through the summer and then consistently over a 1- to 2-year period, gradually diminishing sometime in 2021. The occurrence of these waves may vary geographically and may depend on what mitigation measures are in place and how they are eased. Depending on the height of the wave peaks, this scenario could require periodic reinstitution and subsequent relaxation of mitigation measures over the next 1 to 2 years.”
“Scenario 2: The first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 is followed by a larger wave in the fall or winter of 2020 and one or more smaller subsequent waves in 2021. This pattern will require the reinstitution of mitigation measures in the fall in an attempt to drive down spread of infection and prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed. This pattern is similar to what was seen with the 1918-19 pandemic (CDC 2018). During that pandemic, a small wave began in March 1918 and subsided during the summer months. A much larger peak then occurred in the fall of 1918. A third peak occurred during the winter and spring of 1919; that wave subsided in the summer of 1919, signaling the end of the pandemic. The 1957-58 pandemic followed a similar pattern, with a smaller spring wave followed by a much larger fall wave (Saunders-Hastings 2016). Successive smaller waves continued to occur for several years (Miller 2009). The 2009-10 pandemic also followed a pattern of a spring wave followed by a larger fall wave (Saunders-Hastings 2016).”
“Scenario 3: The first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 is followed by a “slow burn” of ongoing transmission and case occurrence, but without a clear wave pattern. Again, this pattern may vary somewhat geographically and may be influenced by the degree of mitigation measures in place in various areas. While this third pattern was not seen with past influenza pandemics, it remains a possibility for COVID-19. This third scenario likely would not require the reinstitution of mitigation measures, although cases and deaths will continue to occur.”
Well, that sucks.
Note: Read the full report, “The future of the COVID-19 pandemic: lessons learned from pandemic influenza.”