Infectious disease researchers at Harvard say, social distancing may be needed until 2022. This needs to be done to prevent new waves that might threaten.

In an analysis published Tuesday in the Science Journal, the researchers said after the initial wave, they predicted COVID-19 would return in the winter, and could recur.

“To avoid this, long social distancing may be needed until 2022,” the researchers quoted Business Insider as saying on Wednesday (4/15/2020).

In fact, if the virus seems to disappear, the researchers suggest extensive testing should be continued. Because the revival of transmission can be possible until the end of 2024.

“The test will help health officials correctly adjust the interval so that the number of patients in critical care does not exceed capacities,” they added.

Therefore, the researchers recommend that countries focus on finding COVID-19 treatment and increasing the capacity of critical care systems. These steps will help countries prepare for future waves of the virus.

“To shorten the SARS CoV-2 epidemic, ensuring adequate care for critical patients, increasing critical care capacity and developing additional interventions are an urgent priority,” the researchers explained.

“New therapies, vaccines or other interventions such as aggressive contact tracing and quarantine can reduce the need for strict social distancing,” they added.

Increasing the capacity of critical care to handle more patients can also help the population get herd immunity protection more quickly.

A population has herd immunity when enough people become immune, so that the virus has little chance of moving to another person. However, how the virus spreads over the next five years largely depends on how long a person’s recovered immunity lasts. If a person becomes vulnerable to re-infection only one year after recovering from the disease, it will take longer to build herd immunity and end the spread of the virus.

Therefore, Harvard researchers say countries can implement longer periods of social distancing or lockdown. “Social distancing steps may need to be months in order to effectively control transmission and reduce the likelihood of awakening,” concluded Harvard researchers.

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