JOURNAL ARTICLE

Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the postpandemic period

Stephen M Kissler, Christine Tedijanto, Edward Goldstein, Yonatan H Grad, Marc Lipsitch
Science 2020 May 22, 368 (6493): 860-868
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It is urgent to understand the future of severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission. We used estimates of seasonality, immunity, and cross-immunity for human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43) and HCoV-HKU1 using time-series data from the United States to inform a model of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. We projected that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after the initial, most severe pandemic wave. Absent other interventions, a key metric for the success of social distancing is whether critical care capacities are exceeded. To avoid this, prolonged or intermittent social distancing may be necessary into 2022. Additional interventions, including expanded critical care capacity and an effective therapeutic, would improve the success of intermittent distancing and hasten the acquisition of herd immunity. Longitudinal serological studies are urgently needed to determine the extent and duration of immunity to SARS-CoV-2. Even in the event of apparent elimination, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be maintained because a resurgence in contagion could be possible as late as 2024.

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