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(Photo : Photo by Mark Claus from Unsplash) Harvard University researchers claim social distancing might be essential until 2022, not unless a vaccine is soon discovered.

Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in a report that intermittent distancing might be necessary until 2022 unless critical care capacity is largely increased or an effectively-proven treatment or vaccine becomes accessible.

The findings to the group's research were published in the journal, Science, on Tuesday. The conclusion from the data gathered differs from President Trump's belief that the United States might have to keep dealing with the pandemic situation until the stretch of summer.

Information that is already known about COVID-19 and other coronaviruses became the basis for the study and were used to create possible scenarios of the current pandemic situation. Researchers added that even when the virus seems to have been eliminated, SARS-CoV-2 surveillance should be provided since a comeback in infection could still be possible even as late as 2024.

The Harvard researchers also predict that once restrictions were lifted, positive coronavirus cases would once again shoot up as people return to their normal everyday lives. Dr. Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told reporters that if intermittent distancing is the chosen approach to battle the pandemic, people might have to continue doing it for the several years to come. 

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Social Distancing Works

As hard to believe as it is, this might be the 'new normal' for quite some time. How long? It's too early to tell. Much is still left to be discovered about the virus, and for the time being, what works is staying away. 

Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, described social distancing as 'one of the most powerful weapons' again COVID-19. He believes that if social distancing is maximized, the coronavirus's ability can be restricted.

Researchers claim to be aware that such prolonged social distancing would most likely emit negative social, economic, and educational consequences. They hope to find alternative approaches and identify complementary ways to fight the virus without having to compromise other factors.

Even though cases in the US continue to increase, social distancing seems to be helping. It aids doctors, researchers, government officials, and other frontliners buy some time in keeping the virus under control. 

Will immunity to coronavirus bring people back to work?

Lives have temporarily come to a halt due to the virus. The answer to when all of this will be over remains to be pretty dim. Another crucial factor experts consider is whether or not people become immune to the new coronavirus after they have been infected.  

Experts say the body's response to an antibody, triggered by the virus, means it is unlikely for patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to get re-infected so soon after catching the virus. According to Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch, antibodies are produced in the body around seven to 10 days after initial contact with the virus. 

Antibody tests for the virus are currently being tested and produced in the hope of finding answers about this matter. Immune persons may be able to return to work safely, some experts believe. It would be especially important to know which health care providers are protected from getting infected and could continue to care for those still suffering from the virus.

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