Comfortable and Furious

The Risk of Opening the Economy: Will There Be A Second Wave?

Guy D McCardle not only writes for Ruthless Reviews, but he has 20+ years as a Board certified Infection Prevention Practitioner

There is more than a chance. It will happen. Bookmark this answer and come back to it in about six months or so and see how right I am. It is inevitable. I don’t want it to happen, but it will to some degree.

** The folks at Harvard Global Health Institute worked out this “what if” scenario.

Right now, there are thousands and thousands of Americans out there who have been infected with the coronavirus and don’t know it. You might be one of them. Many of these people may have mild symptoms of the disease or no signs and symptoms at all.

That’s not where the real problem lies. If those people would stay home or maintain good social distancing, they wouldn’t have much chance of infecting others.

You might remember being a kid going to a public pool in the summers. At public pools, they would have what they called “adult swims.” During these 15 minute or so periods, adults would enjoy the pool without being bumped around by kids or having to duck the huge splashes made by their cannonballs.

When adult swim was over, the lifeguard would blow a whistle, and the kids would run and jump in there like a plague of locusts. It will be the same way in some places when the government blows the whistle and says it’s safe to go back in the pool.

Some people will be cautious, but many will jump right in there with more zest than ever before. In a way, I don’t blame them. I’m going a little stir crazy myself. Bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and theme parks will be full of people dying to burn off pent up energy.

But the virus doesn’t care. All it knows how to do is replicate. If we introduce it into crowds of people again, that is precisely what it is going to do. I don’t envy government officials. I really don’t. They have some enormously hard decisions to make.

There are only so many courses of action we can take. We can maintain social distancing and minimal contact with others until the number of infectious individuals is quite small, or we can throw caution to the wind and accept that a certain amount of people are going to get sick and die. This will be the price we pay to jump-start the economy.

We could wait until an effective vaccine is available, but who knows when that will be or how effective it will be when it gets here?

We could do mass antibody testing and only allow those with antibodies (and presumed immunity from reinfection) into public gatherings where social distancing isn’t possible. The problem there is we don’t know if developing antibodies makes one immune to future bouts of illness.

Here is what I think is going to happen. I think we are going to carry on with an endemic rate of coronavirus for a long time to come. It will be like a second influenza, and people will get used to having it around as one of our many killer infectious diseases.

Until recently, most people didn’t realize that tens of thousands of Americans die each year from the flu, and we have a vaccine for that. It rarely made it on the news and certainly didn’t make headlines.

My hope is that we knock COVID-19 out with an effective vaccination plan and relegate it to the history books like smallpox and polio.



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