A team of epidermiologists at Harvard University in the US published a study on Tuesday in the journal Science about the need for social distancing to continue till 2022 while warning that a one-time lockdown will not lead to a halt in the spread of the novel coronavirus. The researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health have warned in their assessment of the global crisis about COVID-19 and other coronaviruses saying the situation is critical considering a vaccine is yet to be found.
The report said that social distancing measures such as closure of schools, stay-at-home orders and bans on public gatherings will most likely have to continue for the next two years. The researchers stated, "Absent other interventions, a key metric for the success of social distancing is whether critical care capacities are exceeded. To avoid this, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022."
The researchers also added that it is vital to find out if the coronavirus can be eradicated completely like the 2003 SARS outbreak, which was on the verge of turning into a pandemic as well. In the event it is not wiped out, the Harvard team said the virus like other and more common coronaviruses could re-emerge every winter. Their report stated, "Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained since a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024,".
The coronavirus pandemic has led to governments around the world ordering a complete shut down of operations with billions of people ordered to stay at home and follow social distancing. Although efforts for confinement and containment of the fatal disease are being made, the numbers are shooting up globally with the passage of each day since COVID-19's outbreak in Wuhan in China last year. Over 2.1 million people around the world have tested positive for the coronavirus with the dreaded disease claiming the lives of more than 146, 291 deaths to date, according to data recorded by the John Hopkins University.
The decision to move out of the lockdown phase is slowly being adopted by a few European countries after being forced to undertake social and economic restrictions for many weeks. With the U. S. seeing the most number of casualties due to the coronavirus pandemic, May 1 is being considered as a possible date for the restrictive measures on the lockdown to be lifted in the country at a gradual basis.
The Harvard researchers in their report stated that social distancing for a prolonged duration could likely lead to "profoundly negative economic, social, and educational consequences,". In their study, they emphasized that it is vital that we understand if people can become immune to the COVID-19 virus once they get affected while also making it clear that the situation is as yet unknown.
In a recent statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they have gathered information from several countries across the globe, which has given them a "clearer picture about this virus, how it behaves, how to stop it and how to treat it." Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the United Nations Health Agency at a press briefing a few days back said, "Our global connectedness means the risk of re-introduction and resurgence of the disease will continue." He did go on to issue a warning saying, "Ultimately, the development and delivery of a safe and effective vaccine will be needed to fully interrupt transmission,".
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