End of COVID-19 pandemic? Not in near future

  • Unless vaccination of the entire world population is done, the coronavirus may not go away

  • Anti-virals and immunity driving drugs could come sooner than the vaccine which may help contain the virus for now

The world is gripped by the coronavirus panic with the persistent question -- When will this end? Of course, there are no definite answers but there are probabilities of answers since the situation is still not under control. surely, this won't just get off us soon, at least for a year's time as the vaccine would probably take that much time, say experts.

Scientists say that COVID-19 would slow when those who are infected do not pass it on to others. "Basically, if I infect one other person or more ... then the epidemic can take off. If I infect less than one person and everybody infects less than one person, then the epidemic will decline," said Elizabeth Halloran, a researcher at the University of Washington, reports Associated Press.

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Understanding it

How COVID-19 could spread depends on data about population dynamics, demographics, health care capacity and other factors, said Rebecca Katz, a public health expert at Georgetown University. Scientists say that if each infected person infects about 2 or 3 others, it would lead to an exponential growth of the virus. Antivirals and drugs for immunity could stop the exponential growth.

Assuming that nothing has been done to break such transmission and if the virus makes a jump to new person every two to five days, scientists calculate that a single infected person could lead to 4,142 total infections within a month. Estimates say that between 40 and 80 percent of the global population could become infected this way.

Further findings say that majority of new infections are transmitted by people with mild symptoms, or those who are asymptomatic – those who may not even know they are ill. If most people recover, as in China, scientists estimate that about 14% of those infected require hospitalizations, even then, that would put great strain on the whole healthcare system.

Doctors then, would have to decide on who should live, as it happened in Italy. Breaking the chain then, would mean we are in a direction of controlling the situation.

The ending

Mark Jit, a disease researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, "It's not like a Hollywood movie with a clear ending where everyone is saved, or everyone dies, quickly... The best-case scenario is that we have vaccine in 12 or 18 months and then our lives go back to normal," Jit said.

"In the worst-case scenario it takes a long time for a vaccine to be developed, and the world is really changed and our lives aren't the same again," he noted, reports AP

One theory says that once the number of cases comes down to a threshold, then schools, offices and restaurants could reopen. If the cases spike, restrictions would be reinstated. China has seen a fall in daily cases, this theory could be put to test there. But not a final solution but postponement until a solution is found.

Thus, if a vaccine is developed, it should even involve those who are asymptomatic spreaders, meaning that everyone in the affected countries should be given the vaccine, after an year. Or else, in another scenario, people should develop natural immunity to the coronavirus. This means, all should get the virus before becoming immune. Such 'herd immunity' is almost two years away, if it is feasible. But the novel coronavirus could reinfect, as it happened in China.

Anti-virals and immunity driving drugs -- which could come sooner than the vaccine -- for now could be the right choice to gradually contain the virus until a vaccine is found.

Related topics : Coronavirus