The world watches as a number of economies begin, or plan, to lift certain lockdown measures that were earlier put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

China may have been the first to do so last week when it reopened Wuhan, the industrial city of 11 million that was ground zero for the novel virus, though life there is still far from normal.

This week, Italy began allowing small shops such as clothes retailers to reopen, with strict distancing guidelines still in effect, while Spain has allowed manufacturing and construction to resume operations. Germany is set to start gradually reopening its economy next week.

The government of Quebec added mining to its list of essential services, giving producers such as Agnico Eagle, Eldorado Gold, Glencore, IAMGOLD, Yamana Gold and others the go-ahead to restart operations.

As for the U.S.—which saw a record 4,591 coronavirus deaths in the 24-hour period ended Thursday night—President Donald Trump unveiled guidelines for “Opening Up America Again,” a three-phase approach to be executed by state and local officials. Some governors—among them Ron DeSantis of Florida, Tony Evers of Wisconsin and Brad Little of Idaho—have already expressed interest in easing restrictions sooner rather than later.

On Friday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott set a path to lift some restrictions on retail shopping, provided that customers order ahead of time and pick up purchases curbside. U.S. retail sales plunged 8.7 percent in March from the previous month, the biggest one-month drop since the Census Bureau began tracking the data in 1992.

Other governors and mayors, meanwhile, are tightening restrictions, even requiring face masks to be worn in public. Starting today, the rule applies to all 19.5 million residents of New York. On Monday, everyone in San Antonio—home to U.S. Global Investors—will need to wear a face mask while in public, or else face a possible $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.

Over 30 Million Infections Globally Over the Next 12 to 18 Months, CLSA Predicts

This all comes as new daily COVID-19 cases are believed to be peaking worldwide, though I should add that it’s still too early to celebrate or to call an end to the Great Lockdown. Even if we somehow managed to get the number of new cases down to zero, it’s likely that the virus would return in additional waves.

Two additional waves, to be more exact. That’s the projection, at least, of quantitative analysts at CLSA, working in conjunction with professors at the University of Toronto. In a research report dated April 17, the group, led by Head of Quantitative Research Jon Barden, states that until a vaccine is developed, the coronavirus could continue to reseed itself in human populations, with the second wave to peak in late August and the third in early 2021.

CLSA estimates of global weekly new COVID-19 cases, in three waves
click to enlarge

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, the common flu returns every year.

The most shocking part of CLSA’s forecast is that more than 30 million people could contract the virus over the next 12 to 18 months. CLSA believes this could be the case since “current reported new cases do not yet include nearly 80 percent of the world’s population.” As I write this, the total cumulative number of confirmed cases tops 2.2 million, but the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.

The biggest contributors to the global infection rate over the long-term, says CLSA, will be Brazil, India and the U.S.
In late March, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro suggested that people in his country are naturally immune to the virus—which probably came as news to the more-than 30,000 infected Brazilians.

Unlike Bolsonaro, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears to be taking the virus seriously, but the problem, as CLSA sees it, is that a large percentage of its people live in extremely dense and poor areas, making it difficult to implement controls quickly and broadly.