This Is How Likely You Are to Get Coronavirus This Year, Doctor Says

Your chances of getting COVID-19 by 2021 could be much higher than you think.

Throughout the country, many officials have put measures in place to prevent citizens from getting COVID-19, from laying stickers on the floor to encourage social distancing to mandating face masks in public. However, all of these preventative protocols may not prove successful due to many Americans' unwillingness to abide by them. With numbers rising, a top physician now estimates that a significant portion of the population will have had COVID-19 by 2021—meaning they will get coronavirus this year, if they haven't had it already.

Former FDA commissioner and physician Scott Gottlieb, MD, seems confident the community spread of the virus is already out of hand. On June 29, Gottlieb told CNBC, "By the time we get to the end of this year, probably close to half the population will have coronavirus, and that's if we just stay at our current rate." He points out that cases are accelerating rapidly, and that the doubling rate—how many days it takes for the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, or deaths to double—is down to 40 days, which he predicts will drop even lower.

Many of the cases the U.S. is currently seeing are concentrated in the sunbelt states. Gottlieb noted that there are "about 30 states right now that have a reproduction number that's above one, so they have an expanding epidemic, so it's a worsening picture."

People wearing masks on train

A reproduction number determines the potential for an epidemic spread at a specific time. According to JAMA Network, a reproduction number of one means one secondary infection is caused by the initial infections, whereas a reproduction number of two means two secondary infections are caused by the initial infection, and those infected continue on and affect an average of two people.

Due to higher reproduction numbers in more than half of the states, the virus is mounting faster than we can control it. While some states have rolled back reopenings, Gottlieb said he does not feel that will be enough to save states reporting a significant spike in cases due to the pervasive community spread that has already occurred. Measures such as pausing reopenings and closing bars are "too incremental." According to Gottlieb, the states will have to take "more dramatic" measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

"For every infection that they're diagnosing, there are at least 10 or 15 infections behind it," Gottlieb said. "So they have tens of thousands of infections down there [in the southern states] that are circulating in the communities."

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One potentially positive aspect of half of the population contracting the virus, according to Gottlieb, is that fewer people will need to get vaccinated as a result. While he is fairly confident there will be a vaccine in early 2021, he believes we won't need "to vaccinate the entire population because a lot of people will have already had this by the time we get to a vaccination." And for more expert opinions on the state of the country, a Top U.S. Official Warns Our "Window Is Closing" to Control Coronavirus.

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