Coronavirus pandemic could last for another two years, study says

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A study released Friday suggests three scenarios for the future of the coronavirus, including one where it could last for another two years with a resurgence this fall or winter.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota published the study.

The first scenario shows the coronavirus will continue to circulate with “a series of repetitive smaller waves that occur through the summer and then consistently over a 1- to 2-year period, gradually diminishing sometime in 2021.”

The worst-case scenario suggests the virus will return with “a larger wave in the fall or winter of 2020 and one or more smaller subsequent waves in 2021.” This model shows the virus could continue to circulate for another two years.

The best-case scenario shows the peak of COVID-19 cases may have already occurred. The study suggests the virus will continue with “a ‘slow burn’ of ongoing transmission and case occurrence, but without a clear wave pattern.”

“It’s very plausible to hypothesize that we’re going to see ongoing transmission for a long time…(with) a second wave, a larger wave,” said Dr. Kathryn Colborn, a professor in the departments of surgery and biostatistics at the University of Colorado Anschtuz School of Medicine, who’s also part of the Colorado School of Public Health’s infectious disease modeling team.

Colborn said the future of the coronavirus in Colorado depends on how well the relaxed restrictions slow the spread of the virus. This includes people continuing to social distance and keep their mouths and noses covered in public.

“If they’re not very effective, we’d see a pretty large resurgence quickly,” Colborn said. “If they’re somewhat effective and suppress transmission, then we’re pushing the peak out with a long, low level of transmission.”

Public health experts said – absent a vaccine – that is a good scenario because COVID-19 patients would not overwhelm the health care system.

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