Here's How the Second Wave of Coronavirus Could Be Even Worse

Experts are already predicting that a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic could hit harder.

Although we've yet to have a reprieve from the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, experts are already trying to make predictions about a second wave in an effort to be more prepared. While many scientists and doctors are confident that a second wave will arrive—meaning new cases will be on the rise again—they are only able to hypothesize what that might look like. Using their understanding of the virus and the trends of infectious diseases prior to COVID-19, experts are trying to make predictions. Unfortunately, many believe the second wave of coronavirus will be worse.

"There's a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through," CDC director Robert Redfield told the Washington Post. Theoretically, we should be more prepared because we have already experienced one round of the virus, but the knowledge we've gained during this time might be unable to keep up with the coronavirus as it potentially mutates and continues to travel.

Anthony Fauci, MD, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) told MSNBC, "It's inevitable that the coronavirus will return next season … When it does, how we handle it, will determine our fate." As for when the second wave will hit, Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, believes new transmissions will peak in November, and confirmed cases will peak in December.

Woman in a hospital bed during coronavirus

One of the biggest concerns surrounding the second wave of the coronavirus is the effect of "quarantine fatigue." By the time fall rolls around, many people may grow apathetic toward social distancing protocols right as the second wave starts to hit. Rajnish Jaiswal, MD, tells Best Life that he is worried "people are subconsciously going to feel that things are back to normal because the government wouldn't allow things to be open if it wasn't. And the relaxation of social distancing, hand sanitization, facial mask compliance, etc., will go down, making conditions ripe for another outbreak." Many communities are already showing signs of quarantine fatigue, causing many of these protective measures to fall away.

Historically, second waves tend to be more devastating than their predecessors. The 1918 influenza that killed more than 50 million people globally occurred in three waves, the second wave being the deadliest. According to History, "the second wave of the Spanish flu exhibited what's called a 'W curve'—high numbers of deaths among the young and old, but also a huge spike in the middle composed of otherwise healthy 25- to 35-year-olds in the prime of their life." Doctors at that time were shocked the virus was claiming people of all ages the second time around. As the virus adapts, we could see significant changes to which populations it affects most, making the second wave more complicated.

Additionally, "there is a chance that the peak of the second wave will coincide with the upcoming flu season," says Jaiswal. "That potentially could be catastrophic for the public and might overwhelm the healthcare resources again." With two outbreaks at their height simultaneously, the healthcare system could experience more strain than it did during the first wave of coronavirus cases.

And to make sure you're staying safe, avoid these 7 Coronavirus Mistakes You're Making That Would Horrify Your Doctor.

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