What Will Covid Do to Life in 2021? New Modeling of Variables (Efficacy, Use, and Masks)
Are you wondering about the joint effect of the possible variables of vaccine effectiveness, distribution of them, and mask wearing? A new open access preprint paper at medRxiv provides some projections from modeling; the authors are supported by some top research groups. The answer of course is that it all depends, but it's plain that mask wearing will not go away any time soon, and mask wearing does make a big difference. And, let's hope the vaccines are both safe and highly effective when they do arrive so that distribution and uptake will be wider.
The abstract states:
"Results: Without a vaccine, the spread of COVID-19 could be suppressed in these states by maintaining strict social distancing measures and face mask use levels. But relaxing social distancing restrictions to the pre-pandemic level without changing the current face mask use would lead to a new COVID-19 outbreak, resulting in 0.8-4 million infections and 15,000-240,000 deaths across these four states over the next 12 months. In this scenario, introducing a vaccine would partially offset this negative impact even if the vaccine effectiveness and coverage are relatively low. However, if face mask use is reduced by 50%, a vaccine that is only 50% effective (weak vaccine) would require coverage of 55-94% to suppress the epidemic in these states. A vaccine that is 80% effective (moderate vaccine) would only require 32-57% coverage to suppress the epidemic. In contrast, if face mask usage stops completely, a weak vaccine would not suppress the epidemic, and further major outbreaks would occur. A moderate vaccine with coverage of 48-78% or a strong vaccine (100% effective) with coverage of 33-58% would be required to suppress the epidemic. Delaying vaccination rollout for 1-2 months would not substantially alter the epidemic trend if the current interventions are maintained. Conclusions: The degree to which the US population can relax social distancing restrictions and face mask use will depend greatly on the effectiveness and coverage of a potential COVID-19 vaccine if future epidemics are to be prevented. Only a highly effective vaccine will enable the US population to return to life as it was before the pandemic."