Know your enemy: Expert report predicts up to two more years of pandemic misery

Epigraph:

Every human life is precious and sacred and saving one is like saving the whole of humanity. (Al Quran 5:32/33)

fauci and trump

President Trump and Dr. Fauci. Suggested reading by the Muslim Times: Dr. Fauci: ‘Remdesivir should now be the standard treatment’

(CNN) The new coronavirus is likely to keep spreading for at least another 18 months to two years—until 60% to 70% of the population has been infected, a team of longstanding pandemic experts predicted in a report released Thursday.

They recommended that the US prepare for a worst-case scenario that includes a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter. Even in a best-case scenario, people will continue to die from the virus, they predicted.

“This thing’s not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people,” Mike Osterholm, who directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, told CNN.

“The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology.”

Osterholm has been writing about the risk of pandemics for 20 years and has advised several presidents. He wrote the report along with Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, who is also a top expert on pandemics; Dr. Kristine Moore, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention epidemiologist who is now medical director for CIDRAP; and historian John Barry, who wrote the 2004 book “The Great Influenza” about the 1918 flu pandemic.

Waiting for herd immunity

Because Covid-19 is new, no one has any immunity, they said. “The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months, as herd immunity gradually develops in the human population,” they wrote.

Their predictions are different from models presented by groups such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington or the models produced by Imperial College London, whose report predicting millions of deaths in the US and UK helped galvanize responses by both governments.

The CIDRAP-led team used those reports, historical data on past pandemics, and published reports about the medical details of Covid-19 to put together their forecast.

“I have said for a long time that when you are trying to understand how infectious disease is going to unfold, you should rely on history as well as models,” Lipsitch told CNN. For instance, pandemic infections don’t tend to die down in the summer, like seasonal flu does., he said.

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