The U.S. may have to endure social distancing measures — such as stay-at-home orders and school closures — until 2022, researchers projected on Tuesday. That is, unless, a vaccine becomes quickly available.
That’s according to researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who published their findings in the journal Science on Tuesday. Those findings contradict research being told from the White House that suggests the pandemic may stop this summer.
The team at the Harvard School of Public Health used facts about Covid-19 and other Coronaviruses to create possible scenarios of the current pandemic ravaging the US and the entire world.
“Intermittent distancing may be required into 2022 unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or a treatment or vaccine becomes available,” The Harvard School of Public Health 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.”
The Harvard teams research also indicate that the virus would come back fairly quickly once restrictions were lifted. plus whether people become immune to the new Coronavirus after they have been infected is not yet known.
“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,” Dr. Marc Lipsitch, an author on the study and an epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told reporters.
”Social distancing is one of the most powerful weapon against COVID-19, said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If we can just maximize that social distancing, we can limit this virus’s ability,”
According to a CNN report on the findings of the researchers;
”Potential challenges 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. ”
”There’s also the difficult social questions around immunity certificates, which have been floated as a possibility in the UK. Would they create a kind of two-tier society, where those who have them can return to a more normal life, while others remain locked down? ”
”The study researchers say they are aware that such prolonged distancing, even if intermittent, would likely have “profoundly negative economic, social, and educational consequences.”
They hope their research will help identify likely trajectories of the epidemic under alternative approaches, identify complementary ways to fight it, and to spur further thinking about ways to get the pandemic under control. ”