As the number of coronavirus cases worldwide continues to climb, we’re hearing more and more concerns about a second wave. One thing that hasn’t been discussed alongside those concerns is the possibility that the second wave will be worse than the first.
Widespread lockdowns to fight COVID-19
He noted that much of Europe was in lockdown at the time he was writing, and he predicted that the U.S. would be entering a lockdown before long. This week, about three-quarters of Americans were under some level of stay-at-home order.
He also said widespread testing is needed to get ahead of COVID-19, pointing to Singapore as a case in point. The country was able to avoid extreme lockdown measures by testing early and often, although he noted that most countries wouldn’t be able to repeat such widespread testing. It is very labor intensive and not feasible when the number of infections is in the hundreds of thousands.
In the U.S., nearly 200,000 cases of the coronavirus have been identified so far.
A second wave of the coronavirus after the lockdowns?
He also said the question that now remains is what will happen after the lockdowns are lifted. It’s possible that a second wave of the coronavirus will occur. In fact, he said there could be wave after wave until a vaccine is developed. On the other hand, COVID-19 could disappear after the lockdowns are lifted.
He called attention to some computer simulations run by researchers at Imperial College London. One of the conclusions from the study was that the more successful strategies are at temporarily suppressing the virus, “the larger the later epidemic is predicted to be in the absence of vaccination due to lesser build up of herd immunity.”
Of course, it’s shocking to think that the second wave of the coronavirus could be worse than the first, but Grice said suppressing the virus is about buying time. More time means more ventilators, more hospital beds and more testing kits will be available. If enough time is bought, a vaccine may even surface. All of these elements will help deal with the second wave of the coronavirus.