Feb 24, 2021 - Health

What the post-pandemic new normal may look like


Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public health experts generally agree that the coronavirus is here to stay — which raises the question of when the pandemic will be over, The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal writes.

Why it matters: It's highly unlikely that the U.S. will vaccinate enough people to completely eradicate the virus, and even more unlikely that this will happen worldwide. That means that we have to decide what level of risk we want to live with.

What they're saying: "Fewer than 100 deaths a day—to mirror the typical mortality of influenza in the U.S. over a typical year—is an appropriate goal," Monica Gandhi, an infectious-disease specialist at UC San Francisco, told Madrigal.

  • That'd correlate with only a few thousand new cases a day.

Reality check: We're nowhere near those numbers yet.

What we're watching: It could take months for the number of Americans with some form of immunity to the virus — whether through vaccination or infection — to drive daily coronavirus deaths below 100.

  • "Until then, we'll be confronted with a different sort of risk: that, for some, the pandemic feels like it's over long before it actually is," Madrigal writes.
  • "Just as the country has never taken a unified approach to battling COVID-19, we may very well end up without a unified approach to deciding when it ends."
Go deeper