Coronavirus pandemic ‘will go on for TWO YEARS’ – as virus continues it’s deadly spread – The Sun

THE coronavirus pandemic could last for two more years, top experts are warning. 

A group of infectious disease scientists in the US have predicted the deadly virus is likely to keep spreading for 18 to 24 months – until 60 to 70 per cent of the population has been infected.

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And, writing in a new report, they warned nations to prepare for a worst-case scenario that includes a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the autumn and winter.

It comes as the number of worldwide cases of coronavirus has risen to over three million – with the death toll standing at over 234,000.

A team of infectious disease researchers led by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, used data on past pandemics, and published reports about the medical details of Covid-19 to make their prediction.

They wrote: "The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months, as herd immunity gradually develops in the human population."

The scientists added that this is because Covid-19 is a new disease, and no one has any immunity.

This thing's not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 per cent of people

And Professor Mike Osterholm, who directs CIDRAP, told CNN: "This thing's not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 per cent of people.

"The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology."

The team also pointed out that pandemic infections don't tend to die down in the summer like the seasonal flu does.

"Because of a longer incubation period, more asymptomatic spread, and a higher R0, Covid-19 appears to spread more easily than flu," they wrote in the report.

R0, or R nought, refers to the average number of people that one infected person can expect to pass the coronavirus on to.

"A higher R0 means more people will need to get infected and become immune before the pandemic can end," they add.

"Based on the most recent flu pandemics, this outbreak will likely last 18 to 24 months."

They said Government officials should stop telling people the pandemic could be ending and instead prepare citizens for a long haul.

They revealed that there are three possible scenarios for the future:

Scenario one: 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 one-to two-year period, gradually diminishing sometime in 2021.

Scenario two: The first wave of Covid-19 is followed by a larger wave in the autumn or winter and one or more smaller 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," they wrote.

"This pattern is similar to what was seen with the 1918-19 pandemic."

Scenario three: A "slow burn" of ongoing transmission.

Government officials should develop concrete plans, including triggers for reinstituting mitigation measures

They said: "This third scenario likely would not require the reinstitution of mitigation measures, although cases and deaths will continue to occur."

In particular, the scientists recommend Governments should plan for the worst-case scenario which is scenario two.

"Government officials should develop concrete plans, including triggers for reinstituting mitigation measures, for dealing with disease peaks when they occur," they advised.

Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who is also a top expert on pandemics, was involved in the report – and admitted he was surprised by the decisions many territories are making to lift restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.

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"I think it's an experiment. It's an experiment that likely will cost lives, especially in places that do it without careful controls to try to figure out when to try to slow things down again," Lipsitch said.

On top of this, he said that some states in the US are choosing to lift restrictions when they have more new infections than they had when they decided to impose the restrictions.

He added: "It is hard to even understand the rationale."

The report said a vaccine could help – but not quickly.

They wrote: "The course of the pandemic also could be influenced by a vaccine; however, a vaccine will likely not be available until at least sometime in 2021.

Vaccine hopes

"And we don't know what kinds of challenges could arise during vaccine development that could delay the timeline."

British scientists are currently working on a coronavirus vaccine – and have said they will know by early summer if it works.

Human trials of the Oxford University jab began last week.

Now, the team has struck a deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca for a huge roll-out of the vaccine at cost price.

The company has pledged to produce 100million doses this year if the trials prove positive.

And it has promised to put the UK at the front of the queue for early access to millions of jabs.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University, said several hundred volunteers had already been given the experimental injection.

He said the team should get a “signal about whether it's working by the middle of June”.

A successful vaccine is crucial to ending restrictions and life returning to normal.

Lead researcher on the Oxford project Professor Sarah Gilbert has previously said she is 80 per cent confident it will succeed.


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