If a vaccine is never found for covid-19 then the cost benefits are drastically changed.
In this article I want to talk about the worst case or really close to the worst case. I estimate that there is between a 50% and a 90% chance that a vaccine for covid-19 will NOT be found in the next 5 years. This is my “close to worst case” that I want to talk about.
There are several other corona viruses that effect humans. IIRC, 3 cause strains of the “common cold”. There is no vaccine for any corona virus as of now. Some say we almost had one for SARS, but the research was dropped when SARS faded away.
The Bible is evidence that humans have a cultural memory of reoccurring pandemics. The book “Plagues and Peoples” talked about 2 or 3 waves of epidemics that hit the Roman Empire from 50 AD to 250 AD. This is more such evidence. We also have the case of the Native American die off when the Spanish introduced new germs into the Americas. From 1521 to 1590, 90% of the population around what is now Mexico City (i.e., the heart of the Aztec Empire) died. The Spanish new land owners saw almost all their Indian “peons/serfs” die from diseases. [Yes, the Spanish stole the land and enslaved the Indians.]
The human immune system has a range of variation like most traits. For any given germ, some people are pretty much immune (but maybe can still spread the germs around), some people will die if exposed to the germ, and most are between those 2 exteems. In the current covid-19 case it seems like about 40% are pretty much immune but some can spread the germs. It seems like about 5% will die if exposed to the germs. This leaves us with about 55% in the middle. These are rough estimates.
My close to worst case also assumes that the best treatment we find in the next 5 years only decreases the deaths and lingering disabilities by about 50%.
So, I'm assuming covid-19 will remain like the common cold is but will remain much more deadly.
From a layman's POV there are actually 2 sorts of herd immunity. The instant kind and the very slowly developing kind. All the current talk is about the instant herd immunity kind. The case of the Native Am. die off illustrates the slow developing kind. The Spanish had a sort of immunity to smallpox and other diseases. They got sick, but mostly didn't die. The Native Am. OTOH, mostly died. And many of the survivors had a Spanish father.
. . . IIRC, smallpox hit the Roman Empire in 180 AD and stayed in Europe until the 20th cent.. Over those 1800 years Europeans who died of it didn't reproduce and those who lived did reproduce. Gradually, everyone's immune system came to be good enough to keep you from dying but not good enough to keep you from being disfigured by the disease. The Native Am. mostly just died.
So, what will happen over the next 5 years with all the above assumptions taken as true? My predictions are ---
1] Almost everyone will get covid-19 at least once.
2] Some (40%?) will have very mild case and will be able to spread the germs.
3] Almost all the 5% who are likely to die if they get it will therefore die.
4] Most people will get it several to many times, but recover with no long lasting effects.
5] Maybe 5% to 10% (=8%?) will get it several times and will have life long disabilities as a result.
If the US has 330M people, then ---
5% X 330M X 50% = 8,000,000 = 8M Americans will die over the next 5 years.
8% X 330M X 50% = 13M will be disabled.
40% X 330M = 132M will have it like a common cold or be asymptomatic. And.
47% X 330M =155M will get it several times and be more sick than just a bad cold.
Please remember, this is a “close to worst case” scenario. It is also a very rough guess of the different percentages. They all can easily be plus 10 percentage points or minus 2 or 3 OR minus 10 percentage points.
So, what happens over the 10 years after the 1st 5 years? I think that the deaths and disabilities will have mostly stopped except for the very young. So, 46% of the people of America will have it like a common cold or be asymptomatic. And, about 54% of the people of America will get it several times a decade and be more sick than just a bad cold. The deaths among the very young will be less than 1% of the total population.
This situation will continue over the next hundreds of years, but getting gradually better over time.
It *all* changes IF a very effective vaccine that gives life-long immunity is found.
[Some nations (like Japan and South Korea) may avoid all this because they beat the virus quickly. America didn't and this is the unavoidable result *IF* a vaccine isn't found.]
Remember, I'm just a well informed layman. After 5 years we can see if I'm close to right.