Here is the Imperial College Report that has been the basis of the UK government response.
The model looks very reasonable, in fact a bit on the optimistic side with some of the values used. The conclusions are not just bad but actually catastrophic. There is a very good reason why Boris looks so worried. In fact Macron in his speech to the nation last night looked very seriously rattled.
The lock downs only buy us time. Nothing else. It just dampens the first infection wave. But the moment the lock down is relaxed then the wave builds again to original strength in about 90 to 120 days. And will keep returning every 60 / 90 days or so, peak on a slow decay curve, until first population saturation point is reached, about 60% / 70% of the population. Or a vaccine goes into widespread deployment.
Limited deployment maybe 150/180 days away but 10’s millions of shots will be another 180 days away at lest. And this will be for a very experimental vaccine which will have major side effects. That is a given.
So governments are facing a very stark choice. The long term economic viability and survival of their countries or the deaths of up to 10% of their over 65 population in the next 18/24 months… Because a country cannot be on permanent lock down for the 12 / 18 months needed for a vaccine to have a major impact. If the first vaccines are effective.
The current lockdowns cannot last for more than 60 to 90 days without serious political and social unrest and they will cause immense economic damage. Much worse than 2008. When the next wave of infections start building late summer / early autumn the ability and political will to do the same kind of lock down in most countries is unlikely to be there. So the really big wave of deaths will start in the autumn. And continue to ebb and flow till a reliable vaccine comes online.
So the world you have lived in since 1989 of loose borders , hassle free travel and wide trade networks is over. For good. For a start those countries which have been very successful with suppression like Singapore and Taiwan will demand either a current SARs 2 test result or proof of vaccination before issuing a visa. That is just one example of how its going to return to the old pre globalization way of doing things. There will be many more. In every area.
I was just thinking of a conversation I had just after the collapse of the Soviet Union with a friend who was old enough to remember 1917. He had seen a lot of the world in his 90 plus years and he was musing that he had seen both the birth and demise of Communism. The two most important events of the 20’th century. I think when the history of the post 1989 world is written in the future 2020 will be considered as much an era defining date as 1917 and 1989. Our world just changed fundamentally. We will not be returning to the pre pandemic world.
So it looks like we are in for a really really awful year or two.