Expert Warns 40 To 70 Percent Of World Will Be Infected With Coronavirus In Next Year: ‘It’s Not Containable’

Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch says most cases will not be severe, but infection will be widespread.

Men wear masks to protect against coronavirus.
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Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch says most cases will not be severe, but infection will be widespread.

A Harvard epidemiology professor is warning that the spread of the coronavirus will be impossible to contain and is predicting that between 40 and 70 percent of the world will become infected sometime in the next year.

Marc Lipsitch said in an interview with The Atlantic that the disease will continue to spread quickly despite the efforts undertaken to stop it. In China, the government has gone to extreme measures to attempt to arrest its spread, including forbidding people from leaving their homes and even using drones to find people who had left. The government later moved to going door-to-door in affected regions, attempting to find people who had been infected so they could be quarantined. The disease has still spread, with infections being reported in more than two dozen countries now.

Despite the efforts of China and other countries to contain the disease, Lipsitch said he believes that the spread will be impossible to stop and that somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of the world will be infected with the virus that causes the disease officially known as COVID-19. But he stressed that it will not be severe in all cases and that it will often look like the common influenza virus where people can endure without medical care and some without even developing symptoms.

“It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,” he said.

“I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable,” Lipsitch added.

The report noted that other experts have warned that the disease will become widespread around the globe and could eventually become a seasonal disease that strikes every year, much like the cold and flu.

“If [coronavirus] follows suit, and if the disease continues to be as severe as it is now, ‘cold and flu season’ could become ‘cold and flu and COVID-19 season,’ ” the report noted.

Health officials in the United States are already warning that Americans should begin preparing for the likely spread of the disease in communities here. As NBC News noted, the officials warned that the spread of coronavirus is likely out of their hands, and the best they can do is prepare for it when it arrives in larger numbers.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a media briefing on Tuesday.