Defining a time frame: from the pandemic, to the intermediate pandemic to the post-pandemic

I thought this was really interesting in Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live. I’m not sure I completely agree with these categories from Nicholas Christakis but I think it’s a useful undertaking to begin to conceptualise the contours of this transition. From pg 248-249:

The pandemic:

Let’s first establish a time frame. If we are able to make a safe and effective vaccine, distribute it rapidly and widely, and get large numbers of people to take it, we might shorten the duration of the pandemic. But even if we are able to clear all of the hurdles for such a rollout, the vaccine still might not arrive before we achieve herd immunity. That is, since we are likely to reach an attack rate of roughly 40 to 50 percent by 2022 no matter what we do, unless the vaccine becomes widely available in early 2021 (which would be the fastest a vaccine had ever been developed by far), it will not make much of a difference in the overall course of the pandemic (though even then, the vaccine would still be enormously valuable to protect uninfected people).

The intermediate pandemic period:

Either way, until 2022, Americans will live in an acutely changed world—they will be wearing masks, for example, and avoiding crowded places. I’ll call this the immediate pandemic period. For a few years after we either reach herd immunity or have a widely distributed vaccine, people will still be recovering from the overall clinical, psychological, social, and economic shock of the pandemic and the adjustments it required, perhaps through 2024. I’ll call this the intermediate pandemic period

The post-pandemic

Then, gradually, things will return to “normal”—albeit in a world with some persistent changes. Around 2024, the post-pandemic period will likely begin.

As he warns on pg 282, the effects will linger with us for a long time: “After the intermediate pandemic period ends, in about 2024, there will still be normative, social, technological, and economic aftereffects of the virus and our responses to it.”

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