Coronavirus: Social distancing may need to last until 2022, Harvard study shows

Researchers also say virus could reemerge as late as 2024 even after ‘apparent elimination’ 

Rory Sullivan
Wednesday 15 April 2020 17:43 BST
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Social distancing in the US may have to last until 2022 to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, a new study by researchers at Harvard has suggested.

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health, whose research was published in the journal Science on Tuesday, said that “intermittent distancing” may be required for the next few years.

The study comes as the US recorded more than 2,200 deaths from the virus on Tuesday, the highest daily number of fatalities in the world. This brought the country’s death toll to 28,300.

In their findings, the Harvard researchers said: “Intermittent distancing may be required into 2022 unless critical care capacity is increased substantially or a treatment or vaccine becomes available.”

Citing South Korea and Singapore as examples, the study believes distancing measures could ease the burden on health care systems and allow for effective contact tracing and quarantine.

The researchers acknowledged this would have a negative impact on the economic, social and educational wellbeing of the US.

The study added even after its “apparent elimination”, the virus should be monitored because it could reemerge as late as 2024.

The WHO has said that the number of infections has “certainly” not yet reached its peak, with 2 million global infections reported so far and more than 124,000 deaths from the virus.

The US has experienced more deaths from coronavirus than any other country.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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