Coronavirus: Top scientist warns it could take until 2021 for normal to return

A top scientist is warning the public it could take as long as until 2021 for normal life to resume.

Ali Nouri, president of the Federation of American Scientists, told the world needs to develop a vaccine first, which could take a year.

"We will certainly have to continue these stay at home orders for I suspect at least through the end of May, or perhaps some time in June," the virology expert said.

"There's not going to be a time when there is a magic date and then everybody goes back to their lives as normal. That's not going to happen for a long time.

"Once June comes around, once July comes around, it's not going to be the kind of situation where people are going to be going to crowded restaurants and movie theatres. Things are going to be different, I suspect, until we have the vaccine."

Over 80,000 people have died from COVID-19 worldwide since the pandemic began, and as yet there's no known cure or vaccine for it.

The race is on to develop them however, with scientists around the world racing against the clock to develop treatments, cures and a vaccine.

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates has added his philanthropy to the effort, pledging billions of dollars to the development fight.

In an interview last week, Gates said it will take governments a few months to begin manufacturing and funding for vaccines underway. However because he has the money, his charitable foundation will start to build vaccine factories now for seven promising candidates, even though there's no undeniable proof yet any of them work.

"Even though we'll end up picking at most two of them, we're going to fund factories for all seven just so we don't waste time in serially saying 'OK, which vaccine works?' and then building the factory," he told Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

"It'll be a few billion dollars we'll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don't get picked because something else is better. But a few billion in this situation we're in, where there are trillions of dollars - a thousand times more - being lost economically, it is worth it."