When will the outbreak end and life get back to normal?
Published : 21 Mar 2020, 13:30
It is an unparalleled global response to a disease. But when will it end and when will we be able to get on with our lives?
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he believes the UK can "turn the tide" against the outbreak within the next 12 weeks and the country can "send coronavirus packing".
But even if the number of cases starts to fall in the next three months, then we will still be far from the end.
It can take a long time for the tide to go out - possibly years.
It is clear the current strategy of shutting down large parts of society is not sustainable in the long-term. The social and economic damage would be catastrophic.
There are essentially three ways out of this mess:
-enough people develop immunity through infection
-or permanently change our behaviour/society
Each of these routes would reduce the ability of the virus to spread.
Vaccines - at least 12-18 months away
A vaccine should give someone immunity so they do not become sick if they are exposed.
Immunise enough people, about 60% of the population, and the virus cannot cause outbreaks - the concept known as herd immunity.
The first person was given an experimental vaccine in the US this week after researchers were allowed to skip the usual rules of performing animal tests first.
Vaccine research is taking place at unprecedented speed, but there is no guarantee it will be successful and will require immunisation on a global scale.
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