What is intermittent social distancing and will it work for COVID-19? Experts weigh in

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Harvard University researchers say an on-again, off-again approach to social distancing could be a more effective strategy to avoid overwhelming hospitals and to build herd immunity against the novel coronavirus — but other experts aren’t so sure.

An April study, conducted at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, championed intermittent social distancing — measures that are periodically reimposed when cases reach certain levels.

Christine Tedijanto, a PhD student who co-authored the study, told Global News it will take at least two more years to reach “sufficient levels of population immunity for the disease to stop spreading.”

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According to the researchers’ modelling, as long as social distancing occurred between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of the time, the world could both build immunity and keep the health-care system from overloading.

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“If we believe that COVID-19 will confer at least some immunity to the infection, for some period of time, then it means that those that have already gotten the infection are protected,” she said, noting that the exact immunity level remains under research.

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