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In this modeling study, a group of researchers from Harvard predicts recurrent COVID-19 outbreaks every winter (although COVID-19 could cause an outbreak at any time of year), with potentially necessary social distancing in various phases until 2022. The authors urge that serological antibody testing be used to better understand duration of immunity.
This article provides very important modeling predictions for COVID-19.
– Andrea Dotson, MD, MSPH
This abstract is available on the publisher's site.
It is urgent to understand the future of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission. We used estimates of seasonality, immunity, and cross-immunity for betacoronaviruses OC43 and HKU1 from time series data from the USA to inform a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. We projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave. 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. 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.