Successive Waves Of Coronavirus May Be Coming:
With lockdown protests in at least a dozen states including Michigan, California, Washington, and Minnesota,
And the upcoming spectre of those restrictions being eased, even at the pace of the White House plan,
That temporary relief could actually create a greater problem.
Many scientists have opined on the dangers of ending lockdowns too soon.
And 100 years ago, our country had almost the same exact problem…
The Pandemic Predictor Club:
So our friend and member of the illustrious Bill Gates Pandemic-Predictor Club,
Dr. Michael Osterholm and his team at CIDRAP are just one of the groups using past outbreaks as prologue to predict the future.
And except for Smallpox and The Black Death,
One pandemic from history that mirrors our own is the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918.
And it’s not just Michael and Bill doing these pattern-matches.
Steve Liewer’s monster piece over at the Omaha World-Herald talks about how lockdowns became problemmatic even back then.
Past As Prologue, People Still Act The Same:
And even though our current protests are really about jobs and financial hardship,
With a little Constitutional-Law nerdishness added on the side,
Back in 1918 people got “Cabin Fever” from being quarantined in their homes too long also.
So what did the government do?
It listened to the people and eased restrictions too soon.
And because of that and a few other factors, like lack of social distancing in the military troops fighting World War I,
Failure To Social-Distance Causes Viruses To Power-Up Horrifically:
The Influenza virus then mutated into something much more deadly.
It could now kill anybody, of any age, in 24 hours flat.
So the second wave of Spanish Flu 3-6 months later was 5x worse than the first,
Killing approximately 25 Million people alone in mid/late 1918.
195,000 of those died just in the US, just in October of that year.
Mercifully, the 3rd wave of deaths was only 1/2 the second,
And the fourth was slightly less.
Experts Start Imagining Social-Failures And A Second Wave:
So with people out there protesting in places across the country now,
And worse-yet, starting to get what they asked for,
Imagine the potential for a second wave of the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has, along with the leader of the WHO.
The former had this to say,
“So what you do if you jump the gun, and go into a situation where you have a big spike, you’re going to set yourself back,”
“So as painful as it is to go by the careful guidelines of gradually phasing into a reopening, it’s going to backfire if you don’t. That’s the problem.”
The latter, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said,
“This virus remains extremely dangerous and a resurgence may be imminent if guidelines aren’t abided-by.”
“Complacency is one of the greatest dangers we face now.”
“People in countries with stay-at-home orders are understandably frustrated with being confined to their homes for weeks on end,”
“People understandably want to get on with their lives, because their lives and livelihoods are at stake.”
“That’s what [the] WHO wants too. And that’s what we are working for, all day, every day.”
Our Only Hope Right Now Goes Against One Part Of Human Nature:
It’s possible the Number 1 hope we have for avoiding it before the magic vaccine materializes is everybody wearing high-quality face masks everywhere in public,
And something much more tricky: Rigidly-enforced social distancing.
Dr. Michael Osterholm is less optimistic.
He thinks a 2nd wave will come again in the fall,
It just depends on our preventative behavior for how severe it gets.
Because as comparisons between 1918 and the yearly Flu show, there is absolutely a difference between a Behaviorally-created 2nd wave, and Seasonally-created 2nd wave.
It could be the difference between a stronger mutation of the virus, or the one most people can still fight.
The Seasonal-wave is one that most epidemiologists agree Will occur.
The High Cost Of Herd-Immunity Hope:
Maybe that’s how long Dr. O thinks the magic of herd-immunity will take to establish, too.
Because one of his ultimate-conclusions is that coronavirus simply will not go away until 60-70% of the population has been exposed and real herd-immunity has been achieved.
Even though that type of disease originates from animals, and does have a better chance of going away than the Flu,
Michael thinks the vaccine will be just too far off in the future to matter this time.
But in his research group’s new paper, Dr. O outlines 3 possibilities,
CIDRAP & Dr. Michael’s Three Possible Coronavirus Scenarios:
Only 1 of them is optimistic, and it’s unlikely
If history is any guide, we are likely to make similar mistakes, reopen too soon, and get at-least 1918-style second wave.
In-fact, he also guesses we could just repeat the whole pattern again and have at least 4 also.
Even safety-conscious Singapore is already experiencing a 50x resurgence, just after they thought it was beaten, as new people bring in the disease.
Also out on the horizon is something more sinister as we’ve discussed before.
The possibility again of asymptomatic-carriers who are ignorant of their condition, bringing the disease back to other places,
Coronavirus’ Second Wave Is Like Pitbull. A Disease Looping Around The Globe:
Which they are sure to visit or return-to, once lockdowns and travel-restrictions are lifted.
-Just like travelers and soldiers did 100 years ago.
And this is what could create the 2nd Mutation, the same way the Spanish Flu virus looped twice around the world back then.
I think part of this idea is foreshadowed inside one more of Mr. Ghebreyesus’ statements:
“Most countries are still in the early stages of their epidemics,”
“[And] some places affected early in the pandemic have started to see a resurgence in the number of cases.”
Dr. Birx Knows It’s Also A Fight Against Some Part Of Human Nature:
The White House’s Dr. Birx also had a great idea by suggesting that social-distancing should persist at-least through the summer.
It’s particularly-clever, because that’s the exact time when people are absolutely-dying to get outside.
Which will unfortunately make her idea a tough-sell, because of people’s inherent need to congregate.
I guess this amounts to yet another “Introvert Advantage”, eh?
Because unlike Florida beachgoers, Introverts are great at it.
There Are Theories Out There More-Daunting Than Michael’s:
But wait, it gets worse!
In an even-less-optimistic case than Dr. Osterholm’s,
Harvard has just come out with a thought-piece suggesting that social-distancing will have to persist for at-least 2 years,
Because they, along with the director of the CDC believe the virus will continue nag us for that length of time.
This would suggest Michael’s idea of the eventual 4 waves of the 1918 Spanish Flu is the more-likely outcome.
Worse-still according to CDC’s Redfield, this means the seasonal second-wave this year and maybe next will also coincide with the seasonal Flu.
So strangely-enough, though our diagnostic and health-systems are a little better than they were 100 years ago,
Much of the tools we have to fight uncured pandemics are still the same.
Especially with governors like Andrew Cuomo and Greg Abbott leading the charge for statewide and maybe nationally-mandated face-masks in public for the next year or so.
So if even an oldey-timey police officer from 1918 can wear a mask in public, so can you!
Staying safe out there might involve a much longer timeline than those early rollbacks may suggest,
So be careful of the possible coronavirus second wave this fall and beyond until we get that vaccine!