A Medical Expert Gives Commedian Joe Rogan His Estimate Of How Long The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Last

Vaccine specialist Dr. Peter Hotez explains why it's so difficult to pin down a coronavirus timeline.


Philip Ellis |

With South Africa now over three weeks into isolation in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve, a definitive timeline is still out of our grasp. Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., an expert in infectious diseases and vaccine development, is the latest medical professional to appear on The Joe Rogan Experience in an effort to dispel myths and bring as much clarity as possible to what remains a highly uncertain situation.

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During their conversation, Hotez gave his best answer as to how long people can expect to continue sheltering in place or living in quarantine, and what the future might look like once lockdown ends.

“How long can we go?” Asked Rogan. “Let’s take economics out of it… If there was no concern whatsoever about economic loss and the damage to the economy, what would you recommend, purely from a medical perspective?”

“Hopefully by the summer this is not going to be a huge problem, but we don’t know,” said Hotez. “And then we also don’t know if this thing’s coming back, so what do the out years look like? Even if it goes down in the summer, does it come back up again in the fall?” [Ed’s note – Hotez is referring to the American summer, which is our winter – our flu season, so the trends could be very different.]

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He went on to explain that our current lockdown might temporarily be interrupting the transmission of coronavirus, but that we could face another outbreak once people leave quarantine. He also addressed the possibility that there could be an element of seasonality to the virus, citing studies which have found that infections don’t appear to be as severe in areas with higher temperatures and greater humidity.

Hotez drew parallels with the influenza virus, which peaks in winter months. “It never really disappears, but it goes down,” he said. “But then in the southern hemisphere it’s the opposite; peak flu season is our summer, their winter in places like Australia (or South Africa)… Potentially the virus could start showing a pattern like that. ” He adds that should this be the case, once a vaccine has been created, it won’t be used to deal with the 2020 pandemic, but “will be used in the out years if the virus starts to come back on a regular basis.”

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He acknowledged, however, that speculation as to whether the virus will be seasonal, and potentially come back year after year like the flu, is a “soft call” at present, with insufficient data to say for certain.

Ultimately, the medical and scientific community can only only do so much, Hotez says, quoting the Coronavirus Task Force’s Dr. Anthony Fauci: “The virus makes the decisions, we don’t make the decisions.”

This article originally appeared on menshealth.com

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