It might not be until 2022 when the world can begin thinking about returning to "pre-Covid" life, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief science officer at the World Health Organization in Geneva, said Tuesday.
"We're looking at 2022 at least before enough people start getting the vaccine to build immunity. So for a long time to come, we have to maintain the same kind of measures that are currently being put in place with physical distancing, the masking and respiratory hygiene," said Swaminathan, speaking to reporters during a virtual meeting hosted by the United Nations Foundation.
"Those will have to continue after the vaccine starts getting rolled out, because we need 60% to 70% of the population to have immunity before you will start seeing a dramatic reduction in transmission of this virus," Swaminathan said. "We also don't know how long these vaccines will protect for -- that's the other big question mark: How long does immunity last? And it's possible that you will need a booster."
Swaminathan added that health officials are currently looking to control the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, rather than eliminate it at this point.
While a timeline remains uncertain and difficult to predict, "I think it's safe to say that it could be 2022 when we will start thinking about going back to pre-Covid normal life," Swaminathan said.
Swaminathan added that she doesn't think the coronavirus will become a seasonal virus as time goes on, but instead we could expect to see "ups and downs" in cases and transmission.