COVID-19: What's a Realistic Timeline?
There are a lot of questions about the timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic. When is it going to be over? How will we know? These are hard questions.
This is a brand new virus. A virus that we have not seen before, and it doesn't appear to have been in humans before. We really aren't seeing any evidence that this is a virus or a type of virus that we've dealt with before, so our immune systems don't know anything about it, which is why we are having a hard time containing it.
For more discussion of these questions, watch the video below from Dr. David Pong, and read on for a brief recap.
When Will The COVID-19 Pandemic Be Over?
Unfortunately, for this pandemic to be over, I think we will need to have a lot of the population immune to the virus — perhaps 60-70%.
Right now, if we do studies in places where there has been a lot of infection, say New York or Boston, random studies show perhaps only 20% of people on the street have any evidence at all of having seen the virus. We think we need to be up around 70% of the population in order to have the herd immunity that would allow the virus to come into a group and have a higher probability of not infecting anyone.
When Can We Expect a COVID-19 Vaccine?
If we don't have immunity for exposure, then we need to get it from a vaccine. Right now, we are at least a year away from being able to see an effective vaccine. And that's really just to get it to the point where it's available and we know it's effective and safe. After that, there are all the hurdles of distribution and providing the vaccine. There are many challenges to being able to vaccinate enough of the population.
How Are We Making Progress Against COVID-19?
The reason we are seeing any headway against COVID-19 is because of what we are doing in terms of wearing a mask, keeping our distance from others, washing our hands, and paying attention to what we are doing with our hands (keeping them away from our face). We need to keep doing that. It's May of 2020, and I think we've just been practicing for what we will need to do for the next perhaps 18 months.
Of course, the side benefit of social distancing is that we are seeing far fewer colds, far fewer bad allergies and sinus infection right now because that same use of social distancing and masks is effective there.