A group of scientists was asked by iRozhlas for their take on when COVID-19 will end. Here’s what they say. 

Epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar says that he can’t predict when COVID-19 will end because it depends on the number of “mutations” that appear. 

“What’s for certain is that the coronavirus will not stop spreading this year or the following years, but it’s not possible to say for sure whether it will be five, seven, or ten years. If new mutations occur more frequently, making vaccinations or immunity after getting the virus ineffective, the coronavirus may be with us to some extent forever.”

Maďar also adds that wearing masks will probably be necessary “for a long time.” 

Epidemiologist Petr Smejkal, slightly less depressing in his forecast, believes ordinary life will “certainly” come back, potentially by late spring or early summer. The only thing that could stop it is a new mutation that renders the vaccines useless. However, as Smejkal notes, that hasn’t happened yet. 

Virologist Ivan Hirsch believes that COVID-19 will probably be around forever, just like the flu. 

“We could significantly reduce the pandemic by the end of this year. To do this, most importantly, effective vaccination will be needed, plus testing, tracing, and isolation of infected people.” 

He also believes that to avoid over-isolating everybody, that only the infected and their direct contacts should be forced into quarantine. Sadly, solving the societal effects of the COVID-19 restrictions, which some would argue are worse than the virus itself, will be a long-term job. 

“I am afraid that even after conquering the health aspect of the pandemic, solving societal problems will be long-term.”

Evolutionary biologist and parasitologist Jaroslav Flegr believes COVID-19 will be around for 20-30 years and everyone will have to wear masks for at least 5 years, or potentially forever. He also believes it may be necessary to get “regular revaccinations” each year for at least 70-80% of the population. 

When asked if things would ever get back to the way they were, Flegr said life would return to normal, but “normal” will have a different meaning. We can presume this means “no.”

“Life will return to normal, but ‘normal’ will look much different than it did before the pandemic. It will be better in many ways, and worse in others.”

Here is the full report with each expert’s response to the survey.