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Experts predict U.S. COVID-19 cases will drop in summer but increase in winter

The next few months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States may seem a bit like a roller coaster ride.

The current increase in the number of cases will fall over the summer and then rise again in the winter, a health expert predicted on April 22 during an information conference sponsored by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Meanwhile, cases are expected to continue to rise globally, largely fueled by cases in South Asia, particularly in India, said Ali Mokdad, a public health researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Assessment at the University of Washington in Seattle.

As more Americans are vaccinated, daily deaths are expected to decrease, Mokdad said, from about 700 deaths a day on April 21 to about 200 deaths a day on August 1. By then, the cumulative death toll in the United States is expected by COVID-19. to reach 618,000, compared to the current 570,000.

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As with other respiratory viruses, when cold weather causes more people to return inside, cases and deaths could increase again, Mokdad said. The bad depends on whether people wear masks (SN: 12/12/21). “Winter is coming … we expect an increase in cases and we will swim upstream,” he said. "We have a problem. Please wear the mask."

If 95 percent of people wear masks, the increase in cases and deaths can be mild, he said. Vaccines, coronavirus variants, the number of people who have already had COVID-19, and the number of people interacting with other people could also change the equation.

Looking at the long term, the coronavirus is here to stay, said Amesh Adalja, a doctor in infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

"It's a mistake to think we're going to get to COVID-zero. This is not an eradicable disease," he said.

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But if enough people are vaccinated, the virus can end up looking more like a seasonal cold. “These vaccines … will change your life,” Adalja said. "These vaccines have been made to sludge or tame the virus and are doing an excellent job at it."

Some “advanced” infections have occurred among fully vaccinated people, but those infections often produce mild symptoms with few cases of serious illness or hospitalization, Adalja said. Vaccinated people are also less likely to spread the virus to others if they catch it (SN: 30/03/21).

Still, until immunity is reached at the command, people will still need to wear masks, Adalja said. But, he added, "the more people we are vaccinated, the less likely we are to think about masks again for COVID-19."

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