UNITED States may have to endure social distancing measures — such as stay-at-home orders and school closures — until 2022, unless a vaccine becomes quickly available.
This projection was made by researchers yesterday.
According to a panel, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who published their findings in the journal Science, those findings directly contradict research being touted by the White House that suggests the pandemic may stop this summer.
Noting that long-term social distancing may be traumatic, the researchers expect people to put up with it.
The Harvard team’s projections also indicate that the virus would come roaring back fairly quickly once restrictions were lifted. The team at the Harvard School of Public Health used what’s known about Covid-19 and other coronaviruses to create possible scenarios of the current pandemic.
An author on the study and epidemiology professor at Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Marc Lipsitch, told reporters that social distancing is a critical care measure.
“Intermittent distancing may be required into 2022 unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or a treatment or vaccine becomes available,” they wrote in their report.
“Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.
If intermittent distancing is the approach that’s chosen, it may be necessary to do it for several years, which is obviously a very long time,” he said.
But he listed potential challenges to include finding a reliable test to determine who has antibodies for the coronavirus, establishing the level of immunity conferred by previous infection and how long it lasts, and the capacity of overstretched health systems to carry out reliable, widespread antibody tests in the general population.
His views were shared by Director of Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), Robert Redfield.
According to him, social distancing is one of the most powerful weapons against COVID-19.
“If we can just maximize that social distancing, we can limit this virus’s ability,” he said.