Some forms of social distancing may be needed until at least 2022 to stop the spread of coronavirus and to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed, a new Harvard study has found.
The modeling study on COVID-19 warned that sporadic periods of social distancing could be needed for another two years to prevent new surges in infections.
The researchers warn that lifting social distancing measures all at once could just delay the peak and make a second surge in infections more severe, according to the study published on Tuesday in the Science journal.
They warn that a single period of social distancing measures - like the ones currently in place - will not be sufficient.
Current social distancing measures in the United States are due to expire on April 30 but health experts are urging for continued social distancing measures to defeat the coronavirus.
The study says a number of factors will play a role in the trajectory of the coronavirus over the next few years, including if it is seasonal and the extent of immunity.
Those questions are among those currently being weighed by health officials and lawmakers as they work on deciding when the US should reopen again.
Health experts think it is unlikely that COVID-19 will follow its closest cousin, Sars-CoV-1, and be eradicated by intensive public health measures after causing a brief pandemic. Instead, the transmission could resemble that of pandemic influenza by circulating seasonally.