This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say

Data analysts from Bloomberg have a new prediction.

Throughout the COVID pandemic, there's been one constant question we all want the answer to: When will things be back to normal? The new vaccines offer a route to something close to normalcy for many of us, but the wider question of when will the pandemic be fully over—rather than it just being managed—is harder to answer. Now, a new expert assessment from Bloomberg has examined all the variables and worked out an estimation. Unfortunately, it may not be what you want to hear. Read on to find out how much longer the pandemic will be with us, and for more on the latest vaccine news, check out The CDC Says These 3 Side Effects Mean Your Vaccine Is Working.

A new analysis from Bloomberg projects the pandemic will be around for another five years.

man getting vaccinated

Bloomberg's estimation is based on vaccination rollout. The site has built what they claim is "the biggest database of COVID-19 shots given around the world," charting the delivery of more than 186 million shots as of Feb. 17. They are measuring the progress of different countries around the globe via their vaccine tracker, and based on their latest estimations, it'll take a little under five years—4.9, to be exact—for the COVID pandemic to end.

"U.S. science officials such as Anthony Fauci have suggested it will take 70 percent to 85 percent coverage of the population for things to return to normal," the outlet explains. This is the level at which enough of the population is vaccinated so that the virus cannot continue to freely circulate.

"Globally, the latest vaccination rate is 6,337,917 doses per day, on average," Bloomberg says. "At this rate, it will take an estimated 4.9 years to cover 75 percent of the population with a two-dose vaccine." And for insight into when numbers could spike again in the States, check out This Is Exactly When We'll See the Next COVID Surge, Experts Warn.

These are projected to be the first and last countries to reach herd immunity.

Beautiful happy young woman wearing protective medical facial mask for virus protection during Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Young woman putting/removing her mask outdoors in the city.

In the best-case scenario, according to Bloomberg's report on Feb. 4, Israel is on course to vaccinate 75 percent of its population in just two months. By current rates, the U.S. is on track to hit this percentage at the very end of 2021. However, China, Chile, and Canada are all tracking to take nearly five years to reach this total. And for more regular COVID news sent to you directly, sign up for our daily newsletter.

We can only fully end the pandemic on a global scale.

Doctor filling out yellow vaccination card for COVID vaccine
Leonsbox / iStock

Viruses mutate and adapt over time, and are more likely to have a chance to do so in places where they are left untreated, or where large numbers of people have the virus circulating in them. In short, the more people who have the virus, the higher the chance of a rogue version developing that's resistant to existing vaccines and treatments.

The resumption of normal global travel will heighten the risk of one of these strains being imported back to a country that thought it was clear of COVID. That's why GAVI, the worldwide vaccine alliance, is stressing the need for the virus to be eliminated everywhere, on the principle that "nobody is safe until everyone is safe." They warn: "If we fully return to the way people used to travel in a pre-pandemic world without a vaccine being widely administered, we will possibly see an unrelenting progression of COVID-19." And for more vaccine guidance to follow, check out The CDC Is Warning You Not to Do This Right Before You Get Vaccinated.

However, there's a lot that can change.

Johnson & Johnson COVID

Bloomberg's researchers stress that in these relatively early stages of the vaccination process, the data is volatile and certain factors could shorten the time frame: Canada's vaccination program is currently slowed down due to delayed shipments, but it has contracts in place to buy more vaccines per citizen than any other country. Meanwhile, huge manufacturing hubs for vaccines are only just becoming available in Mexico and India, two-thirds of countries have yet to even begin their vaccine programs, and the new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is showing positive results when given as just one shot, rather than requiring two with a waiting period in between.

Additionally, a natural level of herd immunity could develop from both people who have had the disease and recovered, along with those who have been vaccinated before 75 percent of the population gets their shots. So, with luck, it may take the world less than five years to fully conquer COVID-19. But it's a reminder that this is a worldwide effort, and a vast challenge. In the meantime, the advice to stop COVID from spreading remains the same: wash your hands, wear a mask, socially distance, and take the vaccine when your chance comes. And for more on the latest news on the new vaccine, check out This Is Who Should Wait for the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine, Experts Say.

John Quinn
John Quinn is a London-based writer and editor who specializes in lifestyle topics. Read more
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