Social distancing necessary until 2022: Study

Social distancing necessary


Prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary even until 2022 to prevent future COVID-19 seasonal outbreaks, a new study has said.

Researchers from Harvard University, led by Stephen Kissler, used estimates of seasonality, immunity, and cross-immunity for two beta coronaviruses from time-series data from the United States, to inform a model of COVID-19 transmission.

Recurrent wintertime outbreaks of COVID-19 "will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave," researchers wrote on in the study 'Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post-pandemic period', published in the online journal Science.

The researchers added that without a vaccine or other interventions, "prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022."

Noting that "a key metric for the success of social distancing is whether critical care capacities are exceeded," the study said that "additional interventions, including expanded critical care capacity and an effective therapeutic, would improve the success of intermittent distancing and hasten the acquisition of herd immunity."

Longitudinal serological studies are urgently needed to determine the extent and duration of immunity to the virus, the researchers said.

Even in the event of apparent elimination, COVID-19 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024, according to the study.

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