It's been a while since we saw a study projecting an extremely dire endgame for the coronavirus outbreak.
Yet, as the battle over whether to reopen immediately or wait a few more weeks becomes almost universally-partisan, a non-peer-reviewed study out of the midwest projected that the virus could kick around for another 2 years, and that the outbreak won't subside until more than 60% of the global population is immune, Bloomberg reports.
According to the research from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, the coronavirus pandemic is likely to last as long as two years and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune.
The report was written by CIDRAP director Michael Osterholm and medical director Kristen Moore, Tulane University public health historian John Barry, and Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch, whose name has appeared on other important coronavirus research and commentary.
Furthermore, because so many of those infected by the virus are asymptomatic or mostly asymptomatic, lockdowns and other aggressive measures might not be enough to stamp it out completely. This 'invisibility' is what makes SARS-CoV-2 such a challenging virus to contain.
This might help explain why Sweden's approach has been so popular, while offering perhaps the best argument yet for why states might as well reopen. According to the researchers, the virus will likely keep on coming in waves perhaps until the end of 2022, or even longer, as drug companies scramble to develop a vaccine, or a cure.
Because of its ability to spread from person to person without the presence of symptoms, the virus will likely be much harder to control than the flu. The virus is deadlier than the flu, too - and certain mutated strains have been found to be significantly more virulent.
According to the report, people might actually be at their most infectious before symptoms even start to appear.
"Risk communication messaging from government officials should incorporate the concept that this pandemic will not be over soon," they said, “and that people need to be prepared for possible periodic resurgences of disease over the next two years."
That's the last thing equity traders probably want to hear on Friday.