'Are we there yet?' Scenarios for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic

Is this the beginning of the end?
Maybe in 2022 (says WHO)
Different rates of vaccination
Global normality will not occur until 2024
The US wants to celebrate its independence from Covid on July 4
Will COVID-19 disappear?
What is herd immunity?
What about variants?
Continue to wear masks for total safety
70% of the population immunised: on course to normalcy
Uncertainty remains
Mutations came while we celebrated vaccines
Wall Street hopes for speedy recovery
The Roaring Twenties
Dangers ahead: more pandemics
Transmission from animals
Undiscovered viruses
Stay positive
Is this the beginning of the end?

The world wants to see an end to the pandemic. Vaccination has opened a chapter that may prove to be the denouement of the disaster we are living through. But questions remain: can mass re-infections bring us back to square one, how do the coronavirus variants work, and when will we reach so-called "herd immunity"? We take a look at what science (and policymakers) are predicting about when the final end of the global pandemic will come.

(Image: Macau Photo Agency / Unsplash)

Maybe in 2022 (says WHO)

The World Health Organisation insists that, despite substantial improvements in some countries with vaccination, there are still unacceptably high numbers of infections and deaths in most affected nations. "The virus remains in control," said Michael Ryan, director of the WHO's emergency programme. He added: "It would be unrealistic to think that we are going to end the pandemic before the end of this year. 2022 would be the horizon for hope.

Different rates of vaccination

Depending on the pace of vaccination, the world will wake up from the nightmare. For example, Israel is close. But the pace of immunisation varies: according to a study published by The Conversation, rich countries will have vaccinated their entire population by early 2022 but poor countries will have to wait until 2023.

Global normality will not occur until 2024

Unless a large majority of the world's population is vaccinated, there can be no return to normality. According to The Conversation study, we will have to wait until 2024 for trade, tourism, etc. to return to the way things used to be.

The US wants to celebrate its independence from Covid on July 4

But there are those who see things much more positively. President Joe Biden is pushing a gigantic effort on vaccination. And that has prompted the president to say: "It's very likely that on the 4th of July you and your family and friends will be able to have a backyard barbecue." In small groups, though, he added, not in massive celebrations. But his main idea is that on such a symbolic date the pandemic can be considered a thing of the past in the US.

Will COVID-19 disappear?

Whether this summer or between 2023 and 2024 (as predicted by experts - less optimistic than political leaders), there seems to be a consensus that the pandemic will subside. Does this mean that the virus will disappear? Probably not. COVID-19 will most likely remain present among us as a form of influenza.

 

What is herd immunity?

Vaccination will change the situation completely though. It is expected to create a "herd immunity" that will prevent the virus from spreading. Most people will not become infected after vaccination. And if they do, they will only suffer a mild disease. COVID-19 will become a form of influenza that doesn't fatally threaten us as a species.

What about variants?

The different variants of COVID-19 are of concern to the scientific community. However, for the time being, they are considered to be controllable. Current vaccines protect against some variants or mitigate the disease in case of infection. And future vaccines will be "reprogrammed" to combat new variants.

 

Continue to wear masks for total safety

Despite all that, of course, the risk continues to exist of a variant getting out of control. For that reason, precautions like masks and distancing must remain in order.

70% of the population immunised: on course to normalcy

According to the most optimistic scientific estimates, once 70% of the population is vaccinated, the virus will be kept at bay and life can (more or less) be as it was before the pandemic.

Vaccines against COVID-19: which ones are available and how do they work?

Uncertainty remains

There are also experts who prefer not to put a date on the end of the pandemic because the coronavirus has plunged us into uncertainty. They believe it may take years before this very dangerous enemy is eliminated.

Mutations came while we celebrated vaccines

Just when the world was enjoying the feat of having achieved a vaccine in record time, different mutations of the coronavirus arrived. In Brazil, this irruption of new variants has placed the country in a dramatic situation. It has more than 3,000 deaths per day.

Wall Street hopes for speedy recovery

Certain economic agents want to return to normality so much that they are clinging to positive signs. They are even betting on an optimistic scenario for the end of the pandemic. As an example, an analyst of JP Morgan is betting that by April 2021 (right now) we should be back to normal.

The Roaring Twenties

The dream of ordinary people, businesses, investors and even political leaders is a decade of the 2020s that resembles the "Roaring Twenties" of the last century: a time of partying and without cares after a period of deaths and anguish. This scenario will also help the economy through consumption, promote tourism, etc.

Dangers ahead: more pandemics

The party can go on as long as no other viral dangers emerge. And that's where some scientists have doubts. They speak of an "age of pandemics" in which one disease rapidly follows another.

 

 

Transmission from animals

Zoonosis, or the leap from an animal disease to humans, is easier nowadays because of the bio industry. We have penetrated deeper into nature by exploiting it and placing species in close proximity to large human communities with which they had no contact before. It's possible that this COVID-19 crisis is just the beginning.

Undiscovered viruses

There are 1.7 million undiscovered viruses in the animal world, of which 850,000 could potentially be transmissible to humans. This what experts from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) say.

Stay positive

Be that as it may, the survival of the human race lies in the expectation and pessimism should be banished. Sooner or later the pandemic will end as other pandemics have ended. The 1918 flu raged for two terrible years. We shall see how long this pandemic lasts.

COVID-19: one of many pandemics in the past century

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