Despite the fact that promising and fairly quick vaccine development projects are ongoing in China, Europe and the USA, only the biggest optimists can expect that effective injections will be ready this year. If everything happens as most experts believe, and an effective vaccine does not appear by the end of the year, we will have to coexist with coronavirus for another year or even longer, Bloomberg writes.
Success will not be determined by a return to life as it was in 2019. The goal is to gain time and to maintain the strength and political flexibility to limit destructive opportunities during the expansion of the pandemic until medical instruments for effective treatment and immunization appear.
“People are tired. They mistakenly feel that everything will pass,” said Cameron Wolf, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at Duke University. “We need to find a way to live with this,” he added.
The situation is complicated by the fact that the perception of the threat differs in different areas, not to mention countries. Much depends on the severity of local outbreaks and the effectiveness of testing, contact tracing, social distance, medical systems. Leaders such as U.S. President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaru have experienced serious disruptions in their support due to COVID-19 infection and deaths in their countries. In many places, the message from above clashed with expert advice or jammed useful instructions from government departments. This provoked bewilderment and distrust.
But not all news is gloomy. In the first half of the year, governments around the world took extreme measures, forcing businesses to stop, people to stay home and not gather in crowds. All this helped to slow down infections, save lives and gave leaders time to stock up on medical equipment and everything necessary. However, unemployment rose, and trillions of dollars had to be paid for fiscal and monetary stimulation. Governments are unlikely to go to the next full quarantine, unless a catastrophe occurs.
Bloomberg writes that the ability to coexist with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will increasingly depend on how people assess risks. Amesha Adalgea, Senior Researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center in Baltimore, said it was important what risk people would be willing to take.
The problem is that coronavirus acts unnoticed. Countries such as China and South Korea, which were able to suppress local outbreaks, are now facing other waves. Beijing closed schools this week and limited international flights after a new outbreak spread to neighboring provinces. In Germany, which managed to avoid as many deaths as in other large European countries, new clusters of infection appeared.
In the US, an epidemic swept the states of the so-called “sun belt,” such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona, after a hard-won victory over the coronavirus in New York. In Latin America, the pandemic is becoming devastating. Brazil, with densely populated cities and rural areas without adequate medical services, is becoming a new epicenter. The rising incidence of infections in China and the United States shows what happens when regions begin to lift restrictions, says Seth Berkeley, executive director of the Gavi Vaccination Alliance.
“This has not ended anywhere. It is absolutely clear that if we just open all the gates and try to fully return to normal, then the coronavirus will continue to spread,” he said.