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When will this pandemic end?
Focusing on an opinion piece for a change
I am trying my hand at an opinion piece for a change rather than moaning about myself. Well, come to think of it, everything I write is one person’s opinion.
Everyone wants the pandemic to end, but just wanting it to end, is not going to end it. I want to write this piece publicly so that I come back to it six months or a year later to see how my ability to see patterns in this complex pandemic is.
To answer the question of when the pandemic would end, we need to set some criteria on what end is:
People stop wearing masks and social distancing is given up.
Travel and global trade are fully or near fully open.
There is some kind of normalcy that people have now got accustomed to without the fear of the virus.
Next, I would like to ask a series of questions and answer it to the best of my knowledge to see where we are with this criteria:
Herd immunity from the rate of 70% - this varies from country to country? This varies from country to country and could be the end of 2021 for several developed countries expanding to 2023 for underdeveloped countries. What this means for the variants no one knows.
Overall vaccine reach? US, UK, and some countries are ahead. So 2021 for them. 2022 for several. Perhaps up to 2023 or later for others depending on the country, especially the poorer ones.
Opening up from isolation? Australia and New Zealand have a travel bubble open. But their vaccination rates are low and slow. Perhaps 2022 to open borders for several countries
Do the vaccines cover variants that are around? What about the ones that might appear this year and next? No one knows.
Variants? The UK, South-African, the Brazilian, the Indian double-triple mutation. This is the big question. How many variants and mutations will be there over the next 2-3 years? And from where? Will the vaccines be effective for these variants? No one knows.
How many waves will be there still in countries like Brazil or India? And along with it how many new variants? No one knows.
How long is the efficacy of the existing vaccines? No one is sure. 6 months perhaps?
Do we need booster shots? Perhaps, the trials are going on. Most likely will do.
Will we have to take different vaccines for the new variants? Don’t know.
Can we get the virus even after we have the shots? Yes, absolutely, though the impact might be lower.
Will youth and children be carriers or impacted by other mutations or variants? Yes at least to the first part, don’t know for the second.
When will the children and youth be vaccinated? 2022 perhaps, 2023 or later globally?
With borders opening up slowly will it bring new variants that we are unprotected for? Surely, expect based on known ability to respond quickly most governments have failed their citizens on it.
With these kinds of open questions with limited answers to potential scenarios, it is difficult to put an end date on the pandemic. For several countries, I would like to say potentially 2022, but then again complacency has brought us additional waves and more spread. The politicians are capable of politics not strong decisions - we can see that all over. The virus is going to be surprisingly more intelligent than the so-called “human” race counterpart. That is for sure.
The virus is still chugging along as you can see from the graphs below. When you look at the data globally there are no waves, it looks like one big never-ending wave. When it slows down somewhere, it catches up somewhere else to compensate. With that in mind, if I picked a date, not that I want to say it, I would still say “2024”. Now all I have to do is wait and then check back in six months’ time to write an update on my predictions. And, I hope that I am wrong, wrong by a large margin.