Will COVID-19 Be Over In 2021?

Earlier this week we had two notably contrasting outlooks on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview, Bill Gates said that it was unlikely for it to be over by at least well into 2022.

On the other hand, the CEO of BioNTech (BNTX) (which developed the first vaccine with Pfizer (PFE)), said he expected normalization early in 2021.

Hand Disinfection, Disinfection

Image Source: Pixabay

So, who is right?

Well, we won’t know until 2022, unfortunately. But, even though history doesn’t necessarily predict the future, we can look at prior patterns to get some good clues.

And the current pandemic has been progressing along similar epidemiological events with respiratory diseases.

For example, the second wave typically starts in October and is worse than the first wave. Many experts warned this could happen based on past experience. What does history say would happen next?

We Are in Uncharted Waters

The thing is, developing a vaccine so quickly is unprecedented.

We overcame prior pandemics with significantly less technology – and quite a lot more deaths.

The 1918 Spanish Flu, often cited for comparison, is estimated to have killed 39 million people. It also infected well over 500 million people. That is an order of magnitude more than the current pandemic.

Also, the 1918 flu was much more deadly. Based on the most reliable estimates we have, it had a mortality rate of around 4.0%.

This compares to the latest estimate from the CDC showing that SARS-CoV-2 has a mortality rate of just 0.65%.

Since 1918, we have managed to drastically reduce the mortality of influenza viral infections, which also helps reduce the death rate for COVID patients.

And new techniques as well as medications are coming online to reduce mortality even further.

Did Past Pandemics Go Away?

That’s the thing that worries many epidemiologists.

The strain of influenza that caused the flu epidemic in 1918 (H1N1) is still around.

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