Academics from top US universities have outlined four possible ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic could end.
In a new article called ‘Potential COVID-19 Endgame Scenarios,’ scholars from Emory and Brown universities highlight the following scenarios that could spell out how the world moves past the pandemic: Eradication, elimination, cohabitation, and conflagration.
The first scenario, eradication, outlines the possibility of reducing the prevalence of the virus to zero.
“To realize such an outcome, sufficient herd immunity would have to be achieved through vaccination and prior infection,” the article states.
But the challenges of achieving a sufficient level of herd immunity may be too much to bear, the authors admit, given the fact that the virus mutates and can be passed on easily.
The second scenario, elimination, may be more realistic. This would involve eliminating the disease in certain regions, rather than completely eradicating it, much like measles and rubella.
Israel is an example of a country where the vaccine has nearly been eliminated, the authors say, as cases are at 0.7 percent of their all-time-high.
New Zealand’s handling of the virus also suggests that elimination can be achieved in certain areas, given the island nation’s low case load in August 2020, before vaccines were rolled out.
Cohabitation would involve learning to live with the virus as, over the long term, “the disease symptoms experienced may come to resemble those of the common cold, which is brought about by seasonal coronaviruses.”
Booster shots of vaccines would be needed and there would be higher outbreaks in certain areas.
Finally, conflagration would involve the virus continuing to be spread throughout the population at a moderate level.
If not enough vaccines were administered, or they were not effective enough, the virus could simply continue to circulate through its human hosts, the article says.