How Long Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Last?

How long will the COVID-19 pandemic last? What do experts say about this worldwide phenomenon that significantly changed people’s way of life? What factors can influence the duration of the pandemic? This article aims to answer these questions based on a review of some perspectives about the pandemic.

Wary of getting the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease COVID-19, an eager question always pop up during discussions about the pandemic: “How long will the COVID-19 pandemic last?”

But with the ups and downs of infected individuals and mortalities suffered each day in many countries worldwide during the first and second wave of the pandemic, this question remains difficult to answer. The second wave is worse than the previous one, even double the number of the first wave in some countries. It seems more surges will manifest themselves.

The Spanish flu of 1918 experienced three waves leaving a trail of devastated lives similar to a world war. In fact, it happened during World War I. The second wave proved to be highly fatal.

Apparently, the pandemic will not end soon, even with several vaccines administered in several countries that have access and the money to obtain them.

When will this scourge of humanity ever end?

While there is no straightforward answer to this question, I gathered estimates from reliable sources and the reasons behind those estimates. Here are some views about expert projections which one can take with a grain of salt as viruses can mutate fast and behave differently than their precursor. It’s like hitting a moving target.

Read on to find out and plan your future.

How long will the COVID-19 pandemic last?

The ubiquitous and highly contagious coronavirus that recently mutated into different, more infectious strains is deemed controlled once immunity is conferred to about 70% of the population – a state where herd immunity is achieved. WebMD defines herd or community level immunity when a large part of the population of an area is immune to a specific disease, i.e., COVID-19. If enough people are resistant to SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes the condition has nowhere to go and dies off.

Vaccines can help speed up herd immunity using different technologies that use weakened viruses, a part of it, or just the antigen that causes the body to react. However, it is possible that the vaccine might not confer protection from the mutated virus. It seems that the coronavirus from Wuhan, China is here to stay for years.

Here are some estimates on the number of years it would take.

COVID-19 will last at least two Years

Even with the vaccine, there is a high likelihood that the pandemic can drag for more than two years. The Spanish flu lasted more than two years—four waves of infection surge from March 1918 to April 1920.

COVID-19 will last for a long time

Some experts say that the pandemic can last for a long time. They recur when opportunity allows them to spread. And its persistence also rests on how long immunity can be conferred to individuals by the vaccines to develop antibodies that will counter the antigens of COVID-19.

Similar to other human coronaviruses in circulation, infections can surge annually for many years. This situation can occur, especially if an immunity to COVID-19 lasts for less than a year.

It depends

covid-19 pandemic last
Health workers look forward that the COVID-19 pandemic will end soon as patient to health worker ratio gets higher.

According to Megan Scudellari of Journal.com, quoting Joseph Wu, a disease modeler of the University of Hong Kong, it depends on how much social mixing resumes and what kind of prevention is being done. It all depends on how people behave, which may be traced to a country’s culture related to discipline. More disciplined people mean reduced chances of spreading the mutating virus. If most people comply with government directives to manage the spread of COVID-19, then the pandemic will not persist for a long time.

See the exciting scenarios written by Megan in the pdf file titled The Pandemic’s Future. It’s a good read that can prove helpful to planning your future. I have read it myself and understood how human behavior could be a significant factor in getting rid of the virus even without testing or vaccine.

The article predicted that 250 million people will be infected and that 1.75 million would have died by June 2021. But current statistics show that mortality is almost double at 3.30 million deaths as of May 9, 2021. In contrast, relatively fewer people are infected at 158 million as of date (World Odometers).

Not the Same Everywhere

The location of developers and manufacturers relative to the recipients of the vaccine matters. Developed countries, therefore, have better access to a vaccine that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 in their populations. Thus, herd immunity will easily be achieved in these places.

But for other countries who struggle to get the desired number of vaccines from developed countries where vaccines originate, it will take years due to the tedious process of obtaining those vaccines. Due to the high demand for the vaccines, manufacturers could not keep up with the required production volume to supply the enormous demand adequately.

The observation of minimum health standards or the general people’s compliance to desired practices like social distancing, wearing masks properly, and washing hands can spell a difference. How long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts depends on everyone’s cooperation.

© P. A. Regoniel 9 May 2021

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