I’ve followed the reinfection discussion very closely. The consensus among trained professionals at this point seems the following:
- Controlled studies in primates showed no reinfection potential in the short term.
- It is likely that getting over it will convey short term resistance against it.
- It is unlikely that getting over this will create permanent antibodies against it, but the antibodies of SARS lasted several years. This will probably be similar.
- Because the antibodies don’t last, any vaccine will have to be a “booster shot” sort of thing, and because of mutations it might not be a universal thing either. It could end up being more like the flu shot. Holding out hope for a vaccine is not an option.
We need to balance disease risk with economic risk, of course, but, rather than quarantining the old people while the rest of us have a giant chicken pox party, we need to continue pushing the curve as far down and right as possible in order to minimize cases prior to potential vaccine development.
I agree no chicken pox parties, because those are likely to overload ICUs and force us into triage choices that are almost impossible to make ethically, especially within the modern Social Justice framework. If you go by a pure “save who is most likely to live” metric, you might end up with racial disparities in triage choices. If you go with racial triage quotas, you might end up with healthier people dying. Either of those options, no matter which one you choose, will create a social reaction that is very very bad, with our country in a state that’s very fragile to begin with socially. The most likely outcome of heavy triage is going to be violent civil unrest.
But the most likely outcome of prolonged economic destruction is food shortages, and those will also cause violent civil unrest.
The violent civil unrest component could vastly exceed the number of people saved by any policy, and that’s the most important thing to mitigate in my opinion.
The only way I see out of this predicament is to begin to transition to “normal” economic activity with very heavy social distancing attached to that transition, and hope that keeps the curve pretty low. I think it could. I think Sweden has the thing right.