The Coronavirus has disrupted all our lives, one way or another. From isolation to quarantine, and then to social distancing, we’re facing the consequences at some level. Governments all around the world are on high alert, and that has deeply impacted our lives. However, recent warnings from scientists suggest that this could go on for at least a year, or maybe more.
Scientists tell us for how long we’re in this fight
Renowned epidemiologist Adam Kucharski, who works at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, recently talked to Vox. He said that we’re wrong if we think that closing schools for a couple of weeks will bring life back to normal. This social distancing will last for much longer. He further emphasized his point, saying:
This virus is going to be circulating, potentially for a year or two, so we need to be thinking on those time scales. There are no good options here. Every scenario you can think of playing out has some really hefty downsides. … At the moment, it seems the only way to sustainably reduce transmission are really severe unsustainable measures.
This is the only way we’ll be able to “flatten the curve”. Now, what this means is that we have to maintain social distancing and quarantine to ensure that the Coronavirus spreads slowly. Remember, the keyword here is slowly. Since COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease, it will spread to a large population. But, what we can do is slow down the outbreak, which results in less pressure on our health care facilities. With fewer patients showing up at hospitals at a time, doctors will be able to treat them more effectively.
But again, the question remains, why such a long time?
One more year of this?! Why?
To put it simply, there are just two ways to end this virus. It’s either a vaccine (which would take more than a year to approve, and until then we have to keep up with social distancing) or herd immunity. Now, herd immunity is when a sizable number of people have been infected by the virus, and become immune. As a result, it slows down the spreading. However, there’s a lot we don’t know about herd immunity.
For instance, what if we lose immunity after a few months? Or, if the virus can re-infect us? Plus, it would only be achieved at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. That’s just a cost too big to pay. It’ll put the elderly and the sick in a lot of jeopardy. Recent research has argued in this favor. It says that Social Distancing and Quarantine of entire populations will save many more lives. And it also warns that,
Transmission will quickly rebound if interventions are relaxed.
All of this is coming at a huge cost to our societies. The economy is down the drain, and so are people’s livelihood and mental health. But, this is the only way we can save hundreds of thousands of lives. For that reason, social distancing is the best solution to fight the Coronavirus until a vaccine arrives.