When will the COVID-19 pandemic end?

IMHO and what do I know? I am a scientist and not a doctor.

The pandemic will end when either:

  • The virus stops killing people, or
  • Population immunity is achieved

The Virus Stops Killing People

The virus could mutate to a less deadly version. However, as the virus mutation rate is low, this is unlikely.

A vaccine could provide sufficient protection to stop people dying from the infection. For example, whilst, the Astra Zeneca vaccine had an efficacy rate of 70% (preventing you from getting infected), it is to reported to be 100% effective at preventing people being admitted to hospital.

If all the people who are susceptible to becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 are vaccinated then the pandemic would effectively be at an end as we would no longer need to worry about it. People would still get infected, but they would no longer end up in hospital.

Population Immunity is Achieved

If a large enough percentage of people who are susceptible to the virus come in to contact with it, either by being infected with the virus, or by being vaccinated, the virus will die out.

Population immunity or herd immunity, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a certain virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached. For example, population immunity against measles requires about 95% of a population to be vaccinated. The remaining 5% will be protected by the fact that measles will not spread among those who are vaccinated.

The population immunity for Covid-19 is estimated at approximately 60%. Population immunity threshold = 1−1/R0 (where R0 is the disease’s basic reproduction number, R0 for Covid-19 estimated to be between 2 and 3).

There is a new variant of COVID-19 in the UK which may be 70% more transmissible, its R0 could therefore be between 3.5 and 5. If this were the case the herd immunity threshold (HIT) would increase to approximately 75%.

Vaccination is Important

To ensure the Pandemic ends quickly whilst minimizing deaths it is important that as many people as possible get vaccinated against the disease as quickly as possible.

When will the Pandemic End?

For the pandemic to end everyone’s immune systems most come into contact with the virus. When this will be is currently unknown.

People can either be vaccinated, or catch the virus.

There is not an option of hoping it will go away and doing nothing. You either get the vaccine or you get the virus.