A new study conducted by Harvard scientist who modelled the Covid-19 pandemic’s trajectory says periods of social distancing may be necessary into 2022 to curb the spread of the Covid-19. It may be necessary to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed with suspected positive patients. The study is conducted as the US recorded the peak of its Covid-19 cases.
The Harvard team assumed that Covid-19 will become seasonal with higher transmission rates
The Harvard team’s computer simulation assumed that Covid-19 pandemic will become seasonal, like closely related coronaviruses that cause the common cold, with higher transmission rates in colder months. However, the level of immunity acquired by previous infection and how long it last remains unknown.
People are suggested to practice social distancing such as avoiding hugs and handshakes
Sociologists also suggested that people should practice social distancing methods such as avoiding hugs and handshakes beyond the end of the pandemic.
“What seems to be necessary in the absence of other sorts of treatments are intermittent social distancing periods,” said lead author Stephen Kissler.
Under the computer-modeled scenarios, the social distancing was so effective that virtually no population immunity is built – proving the need for an intermittent approach.
Social distancing would give hospitals time to relax and increase critical care capacity to cater for the Covid-19 patients
On and off distancing would give hospitals time to increase critical care capacity to cater for the surge in cases that would occur when the “lockdown” measures are eased. Furthermore, the duration and intensity of lockdowns can be relaxed as treatments and vaccines become available.
The best guesses based on the Covid-19 cases are that the virus will confer some immunity for up to about a year
However, the scientists acknowledged a major drawback in their model is current limited information about how strong a previously infected person’s immunity is and how long it lasts. But one thing that is almost certain is the virus is here to stay.
The team said it was highly unlikely that immunity will be strong enough and last long enough that Covid-19 will die out after an initial wave, as was the case with the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003.
According to the report, there have been nearly 2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection worldwide
The researchers say a better understanding of immunity to the virus is key. Antibody tests that have just entered the market and look for whether a person has been previously infected will be crucial in answering these vital questions about immunity. Scientists however believe that a vaccine remains the ultimate weapon.