"Americans could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter if the country is unprepared"
Experts have predicted that a second round of Covid-19 is likely to hit United States in the fall as people increasingly try to resume regular life and more states ease or lift their stay-at-home orders.
The coronavirus pandemic may have slowed down in many countries of the world because of social distancing efforts but it will take time to go back to the normal life again, reported CNN.
"The virus won't be a thing of the past any time soon," according to experts.
"I'm almost certain it will come back, because the virus is so transmissible and it's globally spread," said Dr Anthony Fauci during an Economic Club of Washington webinar earlier this week.
Americans could be in for "a bad fall and a bad winter" if the country is unprepared, said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Why in the fall?
There are many aspects of the virus that remain unknown for scientists but older viruses are offering some clues.
People usually get infected by four common coronaviruses that were first identified in the mid-1960s, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And those tend to peak in the winter months.
Dr Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic, said that SARS-CoV-2, the technical name for the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19, is likely to follow that pattern.
If that happens, a second wave of the virus would return just in time for the start of flu season. The flu has been a constant threat for Americans and devastating in recent years. The CDC estimates there were at least 39 million cases of the flu in the US and at least 24,000 deaths during the 2019-2020 season.
Poland, the director of the Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group, says the combination of a second wave of Covid-19 with flu season could create "a lot of confusion" because of their overlap in symptoms and put a heavy strain on the health care system.
It wouldn't be the first pandemic to come back in force. In 2009, the US experienced a wave of cases of the H1N1 influenza virus, known as swine flu, in the spring. Months later, a second wave was reported in the fall and winter, the CDC says.
"Often, not always ... often the second wave of a pandemic is worse," Poland said, adding that the coronavirus pandemic spread in the US well into the flu season.
Another example is the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed 50 million people globally and about 675,000 Americans. At the time, there was an initial mild spring wave in the US but a lethal second wave hit the country in September.
It appears that the novel coronavirus is likely to keep spreading for at least another 18 months. There are several possible scenarios for the course of the pandemic but the worst of them is a second wave of infections just like the 1918 influenza pandemic, according to a report by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
"This thing's not going to stop until it infects 60 to 70 percent of people," said Mike Osterholm, the CIDRAP director, in an interview with CNN.
"The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology."
Osterholm coauthored a CIDRAP report released Thursday that recommended the US prepare for a worst-case scenario that includes a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter.