Earlier this year, America was pretty optimistic that COVID-19 would achieve an endemic status by the end of 2022. States like California and Colorado have relied on this optimism to transition from a pandemic to an endemic response, focusing on preventing future health emergencies. Federal health and safety protocols have also begun to relax, relieving mask mandates in most areas.
While we’ve seen signs of endemicity in the last couple of months, it looks like we have to take a step back from the vision of a COVID-free world as new variants have emerged and threatened the return of pre-COVID normalcy. The tides have shifted drastically, and now, the White House is warning of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases later in the year.
Expected Surge of COVID-19 Infections Later in 2022
In a background briefing, a senior administration official revealed that the U.S. might experience a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall and winter seasons this year. The case counts are expected to spike and land at 100 million, which would double America’s overall reported cases.
Researchers have also been noticing modeling patterns that point to an increase in COVID-19 infections. According to a research paper published by COVD researcher Dr. Arijit Chakravarty, COVID-19 is projected to infect 300 million people annually, which accounts for 80% of the U.S. population. This modeling is based on the gradual loss of immunity from viral RNA.
The recently discovered BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, which are suspected to be able to evade vaccine immunity and super immunity, can further cause the increase of projected COVID-19 case counts in the U.S.
Can We Avoid the Expected Surge?
While the U.S. is gearing up for a COVID-19 wave expected to come later this year, that doesn’t mean we are completely hopeless. Data on the fall and winter surge assume that the new BA.4 and BA.5 variants continue to dominate throughout 2022. But the numbers can change if a new variant emerges or extra mitigation efforts are put in place.
We still have a chance to turn things around and prevent a new surge of COVID-19 infections. Health authorities are considering the return of mask mandates and are drawing up new health and safety plans.
But we have a role to play too. Small protection measures, such as wearing a mask, limiting social interaction, and getting vaccinated or boosted can change the game for the U.S. If everyone does their part in curbing the COVID’s spread, we still have a chance of putting the expected surge to a halt.