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Scientists are warning the population and governments of the north hemisphere that the third winter coronavirus pandemic is imminent.
The United States could see up to a million cases of infection per day in the winter according to Chris Murray, the head of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent modeling group at Washington University that has been following the pandemic. It would be nearly twice the daily average.
Scientists have predicted a series of COVID wave in Europe and the United Kingdom. People will spend more time indoors during colder months with almost no social distancing restrictions or masking.
Although cases could rise again in the next months, experts say that hospitalizations and deaths are unlikely to increase with the same intensity. This is due to booster drives and vaccinations, milder infections, and the availability of COVID treatment.
Murray stated that people who have never been infected are most at risk.
AS THE BA.5 OMICRON SUBVARIANT SURGES, VACCINE EXPERTS URGE HIGH RISK PEOPLE TO GET COVID-19 BOOSTER NOW
These forecasts raise fresh questions about when countries will move from the COVID emergency stage to a state endemic disease. In this situation, communities with high vaccination rates experience smaller outbreaks, perhaps on a season-to-season basis.
Many experts predicted that the transition would start in early 2022. But, the Omicron coronavirus mutation disrupted their expectations.
“We must forget about the notion of ‘is there a pandemic?’,” Adam Kucharski of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is an epidemiologist. He sees COVID becoming an endemic risk that still causes high levels of disease.
He said that endemicity was when life gets worse.
The wildcard is whether there will be a new Omicron subvariant that can compete with the current dominant Omicron.
A variant that causes more severe diseases and is more likely to be able to evade previous immunity would also be considered the worst-case scenario, according to a WHO Europe report.
“All scenarios (with different variants) indicate that there is the potential for an enormous future wave at a level that’s as bad, or worse than the 2020/2021 outbreak waves,” stated the report. This was based upon a model by Imperial College of London.
Many of the experts in disease that Reuters interviewed said it is now more difficult to forecast COVID because many people rely upon rapid at-home tests, which are not reported to government officials. This can obscure infection rates.
BA.5, an Omicron subvariant that causes infections to spike in many areas, is highly transmissible. This means that patients admitted for other illnesses could test positive and be included among the severe cases.
Scientists said other unknowns complicating their forecasts include whether a combination of vaccination and COVID infection – so-called hybrid immunity – is providing greater protection for people, as well as how effective booster campaigns may be.
David Dowdy, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, stated that no one can predict the outcome of this pandemic.
Experts are also closely monitoring developments in Australia where a resurgent flu season and COVID are overwhelming hospitals. It is possible that Western countries could experience a similar pattern following several flu seasons.
“If it happens in another country, it can also happen here.” John McCauley, Director of the Worldwide Influenza Centre at The Francis Crick Institute in London, said: “Let’s prepare for a flu season.”
The WHO has said each country still needs to approach new waves with all the tools in the pandemic armory – from vaccinations to interventions, such as testing and social distancing or masking.
What you need to know about BA.5, the VACCINE-RESISTANT OMICRON VARIANT
Israel’s government stopped routine COVID testing for travelers at its international Airport. However, Sharon Alroy Preis, the head of the country’s public health service, stated that the government is open to resume the practice “within a few days” if it faces a major surge.
“When there are waves of infections, we have to put on masks and test ourselves,” she stated. That’s COVID.
Source: Fox News