Projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post-pandemic period

12 Apr, 2020
The Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases  and the Department of Epidemiology of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health write this article projecting the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 through the post-pandemic period.


A man wearing a mask in a Tokyo district

There is an urgent need to project how transmission of the novel betacoronavirus SARS-CoV-2 will unfold in coming years. These dynamics will depend on seasonality, the duration of immunity, and the strength of cross-immunity to/from the other human coronaviruses. Using data from the United States, we measured how these factors affect transmission of human betacoronaviruses HCoV-OC43 and HCoV-HKU1. We then built a mathematical model to simulate transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the year 2025. We project that recurrent wintertime outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 will probably occur after an initial pandemic wave. We summarize the full range of plausible transmission scenarios and identify key data still needed to distinguish between them, most importantly longitudinal serological studies to determine the duration of immunity to SARS-CoV-2.