This modeling study reinforces the need to plan ahead for future efforts to control COVID-19 long into the future.
While our focus right now is on social distancing and flattening the curve, we still need to understand the future of COVID-19 transmission. Researchers used estimates of seasonality and immunity from time-series data to model SARS-CoV-2 transmission. They projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave.
The key metric for the success of social distancing is whether hospital care resources are exceeded. To avoid that, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary well into 2022. We may also need to consider additional interventions, including expanded critical care capacity and effective treatment. We also need serological studies to determine immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Even with success, surveillance may need to happen indefinitely, as a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.