Duke, UNC doctors talk possibility of second wave of coronavirus outbreak

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- There's a new concern about what a second wave of the coronavirus would look like.

In a study published by the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) on Friday, the pandemic could last up to two years.

"We can't expect there to be a time in the next six to 12 months when we're COVID-free," said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease specialist at Duke University Hospital. "That's a reality."

He is optimistic about the next wave though now and believes you will see streets in the Triangle open again in a month's time.

"Will there be people out and about? Yes, there has to be," said Dr. Wolfe. "Will people be out doing activities? Will the universities be opening up? Will sports games be back running? Yes to all those but will they look like they did a year ago? I don't think they will."

Dr. David Weber, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at UNC School of Medicine, believes it's not a question of when we'll have more peaks but how big they are.

"We don't know if you've had the infection whether you're truly immune," Dr. Weber said, who likes Dr. Wolfe worries about opening the state too soon and not being close enough to a vaccine.

Dr. Weber said it will take time to gather data as the state starts to loosen social distancing restrictions.

"We're not going to know for two or maybe four weeks whether opening things up at this time leads to a big new peak because it won't occur until mid-May or the end of May," Dr. Weber said.

A lot of modeling for this pandemic comes from the 1918 Spanish flu that came in three waves.

"How can we coexist here with COVID and get back to a situation where the Durham streets are not deserted?" Dr. Wolfe said. "I hope it changes in a way that looks a bit different and that we don't get a second wave as a result."
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.