Few World Leaders, Noble laureates, bio scientists, astrologers around the world have tried predicting, when will coronavirus end? The truth is, no one is able to say anything for sure except for astrologers of-course. But scientifically, no one will be able to answer that definitively either right now or in the foreseeable future.
Experts Predict When Will Coronavirus End?
- Michael Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist predicts that the end of coronavirus is near. Though he does not put a definite date to it but says it will gradually come to a halt. What’s interesting is, Mr. Levitt’s statistics based predictions about China in Feburary came out to be almost correct. He predicted 80,000 number of confirmed cases in China with about 3,250 deaths. And the forecast is very close to the actual numbers. (Source: Business-Standard)
- Astrologer predictions on end of Coronavirus:
- Indian Astrologer Acharya Vinod Kumar in an Instagram post has predicted that coronavirus will end in India between September and November.
- Another UAE-based astrologer, Acharya Sandeep Bhargava, has predicted that the Coronavirus pandemic will end this year globally by May 11. (Source: Deccan Herald)
- Upendra Shastri, another Dubai-based astrologer has also claimed that things will have a positive turn from May onwards. (Source: Deccan Herald)
- Different Research Institutions have predicted Coronavirus peak numbers and have estimated timelines for individual countries based on statistical models.
All these predictions from astrologers, of-course have no scientific basis and cannot be relied upon. Scientifically, there are no concrete estimations, mostly these predictions in Individual countries are based on mathematical models and co-relation with Chinese numbers. They can be far from reality.
Also, if it took China 3 months to control the virus, doesn’t mean it will take others also 3 months. The onset of virus has been different in each country, the demography of each country is different and they are responding differently too. So, it may be less than 3 months and more than that.
While predictions regarding the end of coronavirus using the statistical models have surfaced for few countries, I could not find any such predictions for majority of the countries. Also, we are experiencing the first wave of the virus, the possibility of re-emergence of new waves of virus in the future, cannot be ruled out. When will coronavirus end from the world, is absolutely unknown. But probably, it is not happening any time soon.
Exit Strategies for Coronavirus
So, how are we going to get rid of this virus? The current strategy of massive lockdowns is clearly not sustainable in the long-term. The social and economic damage would be catastrophic. What we need is an exit strategy but no country in the world has an exit strategy as of now. As per Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, there are only three ways out of this pandemic (Source: BBC):
- Herd Immunity Approach
- Permanent change in Society Behavior with unknown scientific developments
Coronavius Vaccine (12-18 months away at best)
Coronavirus Vaccine research is taking place at extraordinary speed. Atleast US, Israel, China and Australia have developed some kind of prototypes and started the tests. But even if everything goes smoothly, a vaccine could still be 12 to 18 months away. And there is no guarantee that it will be successfully developed in this time frame.
Herd Immunity Approach for Coronavirus (will take years)
Whenever a new virus emerges, at first we try to contain the virus to where it originated or to a limited area, as done with SARS and MERS. So that, it is controlled and dealt with, minimizing its effect. But with COVID-19 we are way past that, it has spread all over the world and is extremely contagious. If we fail to contain the virus, the next step could be to develop the Herd Immunity.
In Herd immunity approach we try to expose a proportion of population to the virus, so they can naturally build immunity against it. Once enough people are immune, the virus is caught up in the walls of immunity, and the outbursts can be arrested. Scientists call this proportion of population the herd immunity threshold.
If you want to achieve this threshold fast, you don’t impose much lockdown and let the virus spread. Atleast UK, Sweden and Netherlands adopted this approach to fight coronavirus and did not impose strict lockdowns.
Experts and WHO have pointed out that the herd immunity may not work against COVID-19 because of three reasons:
- Coronavirus is extremely contagious, due to which cases rise exponentially, overwhelming the healthcare system. This eventually leads to huge number of deaths.
- COVID-19 is more threatening for the old.
- It is still not clear, whether COVID-19 can reinfect a person. Most virologists suggest that reinfection is very unlikely even in case of COVID-19, but there are no studies to back that.
UK quickly realized this and took a U-turn on herd immunity. In Netherlands, this approach seems to be failing, with a heavy death toll compared to other countries. Sweden is still adamantly following the herd immunity approach. This approach can be disastrous for countries with weak healthcare system and high population like India. Probably no one should even think about it.
If herd immunity approach is followed with some limited lockdowns or limited restrictions, it could take years to reach the threshold. The economy will bleed for a long long time. So, if we adopt the herd immunity cautiously, the answer to ‘when will coronavirus end’, isn’t what anybody would like to hear. May be even we would get a vaccine before that.
Alternatives – Hope in the Dark
As the Coronavirus has been extremely unpredictable, may be it will end in an unpredictable way too.
- US Researchers led by Gonzalo Otazu, assistant professor of biomedical sciences at NYIT, has expressed a possibility of a link between BCG Vaccine to slow spread of the virus. Such studies, could bring in some new element that can kill/ weaken/ slow-down the virus.
- Being cautious could also be the key. Active cases in China is reducing everyday, life is coming back to normal. Same will happen in other countries, eventually. May be the countries will then run with some international travel restrictions, isolating the symptomatic and testing a lot. Social distancing could be the new normal in the society.
- Or the virus will just vanish “from an act of God”.
Until then, stay safe, stay at home and practice social distancing. If you are optimistic about ‘when will coronavirus end’ and think it will be soon, do check out my travel blog posts. And also please don’t forward fake news. Check the WHO’s myth busters.
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