(AmericanPoliticalDaily.Com)- Unless scientists can develop, test, and approve a COVID-19 vaccine soon, social distancing measures could be in place until 2022, if a new study by Harvard University researchers is to be believed. Academics from the university’s School of Public Health claim that social distancing could be necessary for years to avoid the uncontrollable spread of the Chinese coronavirus.
The study, published on Tuesday by Science Magazine, outlined findings that suggest intermittent social distancing will be necessary to avoid huge and quick spikes in hospital admissions as a result of the virus. At this stage, it is virtually impossible to control the virus and studies like this are focused on securing ways to avoid too many people contracting the disease at the same time.
In a tweet, Science Magazine reported that COVID-19 could stick around until 2025, but that its potential to do so depends on the duration of human immunity to it.
The recurrence of #COVID19 to 2025 will depend greatly on the duration of human immunity to the virus, a new modeling study reports. Social distancing may need to be maintained on and off into 2022 to avoid exceeding hospital care capacities, results show. https://t.co/3g0R4ZSCa9 pic.twitter.com/AB3KuacoSX
— Science Magazine (@ScienceMagazine) April 14, 2020
“Social distancing may need to be maintained on and off into 2022 to avoid exceeding hospital care capacities,” they wrote.
According to the study, even by implementing a period of social distancing of between eight and 12 weeks, humans will remain susceptible to the virus. The measure can successfully “flatten the curve” of infections, but doesn’t stop people being vulnerable to the virus when life returns to normal. All it takes is one person who is infected to spread the virus and the process starts again.
“In the absence of other interventions, there could be a resurgence of COVID-19 among this susceptible group, which would require further intermittent periods of social distancing until enough of the population develops immunity, either through becoming infected or through a vaccine,” the study explains.
This reflects the idea of “herd immunity,” which refers to a human population becoming immune to a disease when a majority of people have already developed antibodies to resist the virus. If enough people are resistant to the virus then it means it cannot be transmitted.
Researches admitted, however, that prolonged periods of social distancing will have drastic effects on the economy and mental health. Their goal, they sai, is to “identify likely trajectories of the epidemic under alternative approaches, identify complementary interventions such as expanding ICU capacity and identifying treatments to reduce ICU demand, and to spur innovative ideas to expand the list of options to bring the pandemic under long-term control.”
Right now, President Donald Trump is working with a second Coronavirus Task Force that is dedicated to reopening the U.S. economy in as safe a way as possible.