What we can learn from history
Stunningly, despite technological and medical developments, the measures against the pandemic today are practically the same as those that were enacted during the “Spanish flu” 100 years ago: Social distance, masks, staying at home.
Although we are in a context of much more advanced medicine, these preventive measures are the only ones that have an effect to reduce the impact of the virus until the population got vaccinated.
Typically, pandemics like the Black death, the Russian flue (1889-1890), the Spanish flue (1918-1920) and others occurred in waves over 1-3 years. The shape of the deflection is decisive for the strength of a next wave. In the Spanish flu, the second wave was much worse than the first.
Each pandemic has its own historical context, but two reasons are valid for all contexts: The second waves gain strength (i) by the mutations of the virus itself, and (ii) by the excessive relaxation of people in the face of the danger of contagion.
Worldwide experts call the aim of the preventive measures “flatten the curve”. With the measures imposed, we will be able to keep the curve of new infections low, so that everyone can, if necessary, have medical treatment of the health system. A lower curve means on the one hand fewer deaths, a more controlled course of the disease, but on the other hand also more time of pandemic.
Conclusion: There is just no other way than a well-considered, progressive, organized and safe way out of the pandemic, until the vaccines will protect everyone.