COVID19: Harvard Study Warns ‘Intermittent Periods’ Of Social Distancing Until 2022

Social Distancing graphic from CDC.

A new Harvard study released Tuesday on the novel coronavirus is evoking a feeling of disbelief at the possibility that strict social distancing measures may be required to combat the disease for years to come.

Well, at least it is for me.

Look at the study below and ask yourself, can you socially distance for years in an effort to fight this virus if no vaccine or therapeutic treatment works?

The new modeling study warns that ‘intermittent’ periods of social distancing may be required until the year 2022 in the United States, in order to combat any surge in the virus that could overwhelm the health care system.

“To avoid this, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022,” states the studies abstract. “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 SARS-CoV-2. 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 research was published Tuesday in the journal Science. It examined various scenarios for how the SARS-CoV-2 virus will spread over the next five years.

From The Study: 

Intensive testing and case-based interventions have so far formed the centerpiece of control efforts in some places, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Many other countries are adopting measures termed “social distancing” or “physical distancing,” closing schools and workplaces and limiting the sizes of gatherings. The goal of these strategies is to reduce the peak intensity of the epidemic (“flatten the curve”), reducing the risk of overwhelming health systems and buying time to develop treatments and vaccines. For social distancing to have reversed the epidemic in China, the effective reproduction number must have declined by at least 50-60%, assuming a baseline R0 between 2 and 2.5. Through intensive control measures, Shenzhen was able to reduce the effective reproduction number by an estimated 85%. However, it is unclear how well these declines in R0 might generalize to other settings: recent data from Seattle suggests that the basic reproduction number has only declined to about 1.4, or by about 30-45% assuming a baseline R0 between 2 and 2.5 . Furthermore, social distancing measures may need to last for months to effectively control transmission and mitigate the possibility of resurgence.

To read the full Harvard study Go Here.