The length of the current wave of coronavirus pandemic might last for 18-24 months, according to a recent research report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months as herd immunity gradually develops in the human population” the report states. The research warns that even after the stipulated time period, hotspots would pop up periodically in diverse geographic areas.
It says that at the current rate of transmission, around 60-70 per cent of the global population may need to be immune to reach a critical threshold of herd immunity to halt the pandemic. “This will take time, since limited serosurveillance data available to date suggest that a relatively small fraction of the population has been infected and infection rates likely vary substantially by geographic area.” According to the researchers, the virus may be harder to control than influenza because of its ability to spread from people who do not appear to be ill.
"As the pandemic wanes, it is likely that COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the human population and will synchronize to a seasonal pattern with diminished severity over time, as with other less pathogenic coronaviruses,"
However, the research paper, published by CIDRAP director Michael Osterholm and medical director Kristen Moore, Tulane University public health historian John Barry, and Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, warn that the said timeline “could be complicated by the fact that we don’t yet know the duration of immunity to natural COVID infection.” The immunity induced after contracting the viral infection could be as short as a few months or as long as several years. “Based on seasonal coronaviruses, we can anticipate that even if immunity declines after exposure, there may still be some protection against disease severity and reduced contagiousness, but this remains to be assessed for COVID-19. The course of the pandemic also could be influenced by a vaccine; however, a vaccine will likely not be available until at least sometime in 2021,” the research paper adds.