Social distancing may be needed until 2022 to contain the coronavirus pandemic, study finds

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The world may need to continue its social distancing practices until 2022 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic unless hospital capacity is increased or an effective vaccine is developed, according to a new study. In the study, published in the journal Science Tuesday, Harvard TH Researchers at the Chan School of Public Health predicted that several small COVID-19 outbreaks could follow the most severe pandemic.

They determined that extended periods of social distancing may be necessary to control transmission and prevent health facilities from being overwhelmed. The researchers used data from the United States to model the transmission of other coronaviruses and to project possible scenarios of COVID-19 infection until 2025.

Based on the current capacity of the global health system, researchers say the pandemic could last until 2022, requiring measures of social distancing between 25% and 75% of the time.

According to the study’s author, ad hoc measures of social distancing could push the peak of the epidemic in the fall of 2020.

“Less effective ad hoc distance efforts can lead to a prolonged single-peak epidemic, with the extent of pressure on the health system and the required duration of distance depending on effectiveness,” the authors wrote. the study. “Intermittent distance may be required in 2022 unless the capacity for intensive care is increased substantially or treatment or vaccine is available. “

An effective vaccine can take months or years to develop and test, and until then, non-pharmaceutical methods like distancing are the only way to stop transmission of the coronavirus.

The coronavirus at the center of the global pandemic is new and it is important to recognize that the research and recommendations surrounding the virus are likely to change and evolve.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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