Coronavirus social distancing may last for ‘TWO YEARS until 2022′ to stop new surges, Harvard experts warn – The Sun

SOCIAL distancing may be needed well into the year 2022 to stop the coronavirus surging again, Harvard researchers have said.

If self isolation measures are lifted all at once, the pandemic's peak could simply be delayed, and potentially be more severe when it does hit, scientists warned in a piece published in Science Mag.

"We projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave," the scientists wrote.

"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."

The Harvard researchers used computer models to simulate how the pandemic could evolve in the future.

In one of the models, scientists found that 20 weeks' worth of social distancing measures were followed by a peak that was as great as an uncontrolled spread.

"The social distancing was so effective that virtually no population immunity was built," the scientists wrote.

On the same day as the scientists published their findings, Dr Anthony Fauci, the US' coronavirus adviser, said the nation did not have  he critical testing and tracing procedures in place that are needed to begin reopening the economy.

"We have to have something in place that is efficient and that we can rely on, and we’re not there yet," Fauci said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Fauci said President Trump's target of May 1 is “a bit overly optimistic”, adding: "I’ll guarantee you, once you start pulling back there will be infections."

He continued: "If you mean [the cases] goes way down and then come September, October, November, we have another peak, I have to say I would not be surprised.

"I would hope that if and when that occurs, that we jump all over it in a much, much more effective way than we have in these past few months.”

The FDA has warned the US is "very close to its coronavirus peak" as many states are set suffer their highest numbers of new cases in coming days.

Impacts from the virus are far from over, however, as one model shows a deadly second wave of the virus may not end until March next year.

Experts and officials have said tentatively that parts of the country may be able to begin to open again in May and June, as coronavirus cases soared past 540,000, with more than 21,000 deaths.

"The models do show that we are very close to the peak," FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn told ABC's This Week on Sunday.

"This has been a really fast-moving outbreak, so we really have to take this day by day," he added.

"This has been a really fast-moving outbreak, so we really have to take this day by day," he added.

A new model shared by the Financial Times shows that the Coastal areas will peak in coming days, and a few weeks after, the states in the middle of the U.S. will peak.

It then shows a second peak beginning around mid-November, and lasting through March of next year.

Hahn's comments came just the day after the U.S. overtook Italy with the most coronavirus deaths in the world, as more than 2,000 Americans died of COVID-19 in just 24 hours on Friday – a staggering world record.

Italy has seen more than 19,000 deaths, with over 156,000 cases of coronavirus.

The U.S. remains the global epicenter for COVID-19, with 572,689 cases and more than 23,134 deaths.

While some people – including President Donald Trump – are eager to open the country as soon as possible, experts and health officials have warned that if social distancing measures are lifted too soon, there could be a quick second wave of COVID-19 cases.

If the measures are lifted too early, it could cost hundreds of thousands of lives, the Department of Homeland Security warned in a report obtained by the New York Times.

"It is a target and obviously we're hopeful about that target but I think it's just too early to be able to tell that we see light at the end of the tunnel," Hahn told ABC of a May 1 goal to begin opening the country.

"I think it's just too early for us to say whether May 1 is that date," he added.

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