‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ as Spanish poet George Santayana said, and thus every introvert in the US and Europe started reading ‘the great influenza’ during the stay-at-home orders and lockdowns which are now gradually being lifted. If there is one thing that John M. Barry’s book, which in this manner got pushed to the top 10 of New York Times bestsellers, teaches us, then it is that the second wave of a pandemic has, at least in the past, always been more deadly than the first.
And thus, people are wondering: will there be a second corona wave?
Even people in the Middle Ages knew that the Black Death came in waves. From 1300 until 1500 AD the bubonic plague always repeated itself in the fall of winter in the year it first showed up.
The Spanish flu of a century ago, labelled as being ‘Spanish’ as it was the only neutral country during WWI able to report freely on it from a press point of view, also came in waves, and the second one is generally stronger than the first.
Of course, healthcare systems in 1918 are not comparable to those of 2020, and social distancing guidelines have shown us that the disease can be kept under control. Still, the question lingers, if there is a second wave, how bad will it get?
Not if, but when
This is because the virus still simmers in people and although it retreats during the warmer summer months, it is estimated that it could come back with a vengeance during the fall of 2020, heightening further during the dark winter months.
The question is, according to most scientists, not whether there will be a new wave of contamination, but when and how heavy.
When we look at the properties of this virus, and what we see in different countries in terms of immunity figures, that is not exactly spectacular. Because of the lockdown measures, the spread of the virus has been largely halted and the immunity rate now ranges from anywhere between 2 to 14 percent in developed western economies, which still predisposes 85 to 90 percent of the population. The virus is all around us, much more so than in January and February.
The severity of the second wave could remain limited if people strictly adhere to the regulations, but it is clearly to be seen that people all over Europe and the US are not doing that. Citizens, who have been locked inside for so long, are increasingly letting go of the rules and regulations.