How Might the Pandemic Play Out in 2021

Giuliana Maselli, Lion's Roar Staff

It is now June 2021. For a year and a half, the world has been in pandemic mode. During a slow burn, the virus continues to spread; the new normal is intermittent lock downs. Six months of protection is offered by an approved vaccine, but international deal-making has slowed its distribution. Worldwide, an estimated 250 million people have been infected, and 1.75 million have died. Scenarios like this one, imagine how the pandemic of COVID-19 could play out.

Epidemiologists around the world are building short- and long-term projections as a way of preparing for the spread and impact of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and potentially reducing it. While their forecasts and timelines differ, modellers agree on two things: COVID-19 is here to stay, and the future depends on many unknowns, including whether individuals develop lasting immunity to the virus, whether the spread of the virus is affected by seasonality, and, perhaps most importantly, the decisions made by governments and individuals. A lot of places are unlocked and there aren’t a lot of places. But, Director of Department of Health, Nicole Alexander-Scott, is still unsure what the near future holds for RI. Joseph Wu, a disease modeler at Hong Kong University, says, “The future will very much depend on how much social mixing resumes, and what kind of prevention we do,”

Recent models and evidence from successful lock downs suggest that if most, but not necessarily all, individuals comply, behavioral changes may reduce the spread of COVID-19. If immunity to the virus lasts less than a year, similar to other human corona viruses in circulation, annual surges in COVID-19 infections could occur through to 2025 and beyond. Here, Nature explores what science is saying about the coming months and years. RI we got this! Stay safe and continue to wash your hands and practice social distancing.