Citramag how long does it take

How long will it be?

Hotel terrace, drink in hand, the people at the next table are talking quietly, the children are playing down on the beach. In the second late winter of the pandemic, ideas like this are a place of longing - and a source of strength that helps to keep going.

Will it end this year with a relaxing holiday by the sea, with the long-planned, sociable round trip, with the family celebration that has already had to be postponed four times? Many are wondering this in view of the threatening rise in the number of infections and the flagging vaccination campaign.

Or does it change little for the better over spring and summer, into autumn and winter? House arrest with partial exit rights to shop, go for a walk, go to school or work, pale faces with white masks in shops and streets, loss of income and existential fears, suspected illnesses among friends, fear of infection?

"How long will it go on like this?" Asked DER STANDARD experts from the Corona Expert Council. The time horizons mentioned are very different, depending on the science and perspective.

Until the summer, if things go well

This year's vacation in Greece could work, says Florian Krammer, virologist and professor of vaccination studies at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai - if the corona vaccination campaign finally picks up speed in Austria. With the question of whether a large part of the population can be immunized in the near future, the chances of normalization soon would stand or fall.

"A pandemic with a respiratory virus lasts one and a half to two years, as we know from experience in the 20th and 21st centuries," says the Austrian who researches and teaches in the USA. That was - to name four examples - the time frame for the Spanish flu in the years 1918–1920, which was most devastating with an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide, for the Asian flu in 1957/1958 and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 / 1969, each of which killed around one to two million people, and the 2009/2010 H1N1 pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic is probably no exception in this regard. With more basic immunity in the population, the pathogen will become endemic, says Krammer. He will begin the massive spread of Sars-CoV-2 in January 2020, when an accumulation of cases of illness was reported from China for the first time. He expects the end this year.

But when exactly? In countries like Israel, Great Britain and the USA, "but also in Serbia, Chile or the Seychelles", which manage to vaccinate a large number of people quickly, this summer, says Krammer.

In the EU the situation is more mixed due to the current vaccination deficits. In Portugal, for example, things are not bad: "You have currently managed to come down from very high numbers of infections." In Austria the situation is more risky: "The numbers are increasing. Unfortunately, it looks like a third wave."

One problem with this is that if it is not possible to get into the summer with relatively low numbers of infections and at the same time to vaccinate comprehensively, the advantages that then exist - "more UV light, more outside, higher temperatures" - cannot be optimally exploited. Then it is more likely that the epidemic will flare up again in autumn.

Maybe decades

It's a simple calculation: for a pandemic to end, it takes herd immunity to the pathogen. According to expert estimates, in order to achieve them, 70 to 80 percent of a population must be immune. The vaccines currently available have an effect of 62 to 95 percent, depending on the study and active ingredient. "If we roughly calculate it with a protective effect of 80 percent, 100 percent of the global population must be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to occur," says physicist and complexity researcher Stefan Thurner from the Complexity Science Hub.

If the virus continues to mutate as quickly as it seems so far, the world population would have to be vaccinated again every year. "That is completely unrealistic," says Thurner. So the virus will stay - and we have to learn to "coexist sensibly" with it.

The vaccination, however, would provide basic protection. If a sufficiently large proportion of the population is immunized, the virus can no longer spread over large areas. For Austria this means: If - as Health Minister Rudolf Anschober has announced for the period from Easter onwards - 60,000 to 80,000 people are vaccinated daily, enough Austrians would have had basic immunization by the end of the year.

A large-scale outbreak would then hardly be possible. The prerequisite for this: the existing vaccines achieve sufficient effectiveness with the prevailing mutations.

In this case, too, says Thurner, we would have to prepare for a flare-up of the virus for several decades. The pathogen can be reintroduced at any time through travel. Therefore, a pan-European traffic light system with local lockdowns is needed.

In addition, the therapies for Covid must be improved and new capacities must be made available in the health system, for example in the intensive care units. "We should create resources for treating Covid cases in such a way that the normal health system is not affected," says Thurner.

For the long-term unemployed, several years

As necessary as lockdowns are for epidemiological reasons, they represent a mortgage for the economy, says Jürgen Janger, vice head of the Institute for Economic Research (Wifo). When the economy starts to pick up again, it depends heavily on the number of infections - "and this in turn depends on testing, contact tracing, isolation and vaccination speed".

At the end of March, according to Janger, Wifo will present two scenarios of the economic development to be expected in the following months; one in case of easing, another in case of continued lockdown measures. So much can be revealed: "Gastronomy and tourism would recover relatively quickly in the event of openings. Even a short consumption boom is possible if many people spend the savings accumulated during the crisis."

The forecasts for the medium-term development after the easing are not bad either. Because, according to the economist: "Compared to the economic crisis from 2008 to 2010, the banks are more stable." As a "sword of Damocles" hangs over all this, however, the risk of numerous bankruptcies after the end of the state supports.

On the other hand, if closings are necessary in the coming weeks and months, the recovery will be delayed by this period. Likewise, the fall in the number of unemployed; Currently, including those taking part in the training, more than 500,000 people are out of work. In any case, it will take a lot longer for around 130,000 long-term unemployed - plus 40 percent since the pandemic began - to have a real chance of finding a regular job depend on labor market measures, "says the Wifo deputy boss.

Maybe your whole life

If it is up to the Austrians themselves, the end of the pandemic is increasingly a thing of the past. This is what the latest results of the Corona panel survey, which the political scientist Barbara Prainsack has been carrying out at the University of Vienna for almost a year, say.

In February, 89 percent of those surveyed said the Corona crisis would last longer than six months, last April it was only 34 percent. "People are prepared for a sprint. Now it's a marathon," says Prainsack. This is problematic because many have already used up their energy reserves.

Unlike the pandemic, the end of which can be determined using epidemiological indicators, the associated social crisis is difficult to grasp. Prainsack warns against making its end solely dependent on economic indicators: "The economy can grow, and yet the perceived well-being of the population can decline." Therefore, another parameter should come into focus: the distribution of burdens and obligations. Women in particular have been hit harder by the crisis: compared to the previous year, unemployment among women rose by 40 percent and among men by 25 percent.

Family work has multiplied - most of it was done by women. During the first lockdown in spring 2020, they worked an average of 14.5 hours a day, 9.5 of which were unpaid. "The consequences of this will certainly not be over in a year. Many women may feel it for their entire life - also in the form of lower pensions." (Irene Bricker, Eja Kapeller, March 13th, 2021)