According to all official statistics (at least numbers still being tallied), the global situation regarding COVID-19 seems to be as follows. essentially flat. It’s been more than a year since the world’s last confirmed daily death toll passed 10,000.almost a year and a year half It’s been three years since the public was bombarded with new concerns about Greek letters. The recent winter on Earth has had the lowest pandemic fatality rate so far. and the World Health Organization Considering lifting the declaration of a state of emergency for the new coronavirus Later this year, as the last of the pandemic measures in the United States are ready to be phased out. It wasn’t the worst winter since the pandemic began, but this spring in the United States is… in a way okay. “It’s less anxiety than it’s been in a while,” said Shweta Bansal, an infectious disease modeler at Georgetown University.
that feeling WhewBut Bansal said he felt uneasy. The evolution of coronaviruses is still unpredictable. Its effects are by no means harmless. This may be the longest period of sub-normality for humanity since the beginning of 2020, but experts say we’re at the beginning of post-pandemic stability, or it’s temporary. It is not yet clear whether we are in the middle of easing. For now we are in a hold pattern, something like an extended coda or denouement. This means that our actual experience and scientific reality may still be out of line for some time.
To be fair, we have reason to doubt that some of the current trends will stick. The mega-waves of the past season have been three-fold: weakened population immunity, genetic changes that allow SARS-CoV-2 to evade existing immunity, and increased behavior that brings people into frequent contact with the virus. It was a rough product of factors. However, almost everyone now experiences some level of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, either through infection or injection. And most Americans long ago stopped wearing masks and distancing to maintain a consistently high standard of exposure. Emily Martin, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, says viral shape-shifting is the only major wildcard. SARS-CoV-2, for example, could make an evolutionary leap big enough to recreate the Omicron wave of early 2022, but it’s been a long time since the virus achieved such a feat. Did. Virginia Pitzer, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Yale University, said experts tentatively and cautiously hope we’re finally entering “a period where the new normal really shows what it is.” Say you are.
Top American officials are already betting on that speculation. At a meeting convened by the Massachusetts Medical Association in late March, retired coordinator of the White House COVID-19 task force, Ashish Jah, said the relatively benign conditions of the winter were a big factor in the Biden administration’s decision. pointed out. US public health emergency expired. Jah said crisis response measures that were essential at the height of the pandemic “are no longer critical at this point” to keep the country’s health system alive. Americans can instead rely primarily on immunizations and antiviral drugs to stay healthy: “If you get the latest vaccines and are treated with paxlovid, even if you get infected, you can still get this.” You don’t die from the virus,” he said. . (Of course, this calculation is less true for certain vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.) A drug-only strategy would ask far fewer people. In the future, most Americans will need to increase their medication doses. The COVID-19 vaccine, like the seasonal flu vaccine, is given only once a year, in the fall.
However, it is difficult to make a comprehensive assessment at this particular time.Expert Predict Like many other respiratory viruses, the number of SARS-CoV-2 infections begins to decline as we transition from winter to spring. And although it was relatively quiet for about half a year, A relatively quiet year is just about half a year– There are too few data for scientists to conclude that the virus is seasonal or that the annual pattern is necessarily stable. Alyssa Bilinsky, a health policy researcher at Brown University, says one of the most prominent times is summer in the northern hemisphere. Over the past few years, particularly in the southern United States, waves of infections have occurred almost consistently during the warmer months as people congregate indoors to beat the heat.
SARS-CoV-2 may eventually become completely unseasonable. So far, the virus has been circulating most of the year, with irregular epidemics in winter and, to a lesser extent, in summer. “There’s a very attractive consistency to it,” Bansal told me. But many of the worst surges we’ve survived were caused by lack of immunity, which is less of an issue now. “So I want to be very careful with the seasonality debate,” she says. In the future, it is possible that the virus will emerge from the summer-winter transition. It is also not yet known how SARS-CoV-2 will continue to interact with her RSV and other respiratory viruses such as influenza. After a long hiatus, largely due to pandemic mitigation measures, these pathogens made another comeback this fall in full swing, perhaps making it more difficult for coronaviruses to find free hosts. Experts don’t yet know whether the coming winter will favor coronavirus or its competitors. Either way, scientists won’t know until they’ve collected a few more years of evidence — “I’d like at least a handful, maybe four or five,” Bansal said.
But collecting these numbers is becoming more and more difficult. data stream Withered, Martin told me. Virus monitoring systems are being dismantled. soon, hospital and laboratory No need to share coronavirus data with federal authorities. Even independent trackers have stopped updating regularly. Especially terrible is the estimate of the total number of infected people. Currently, too many people rely on home testing only, if at all, and indicators such as hospitalizations and deaths do not fully reflect when and where the virus travels. What new variants might be on the rise?
A change in the long-term approach to combating the virus could also upend this tranquil period.As tests, treatments and vaccines are privatized, people lose Medicaid coverage, the virus will once again find vulnerable parts of the country as community support programs struggle to survive.These problems aren’t just for the next few months: Children’s COVID-19 vaccination rates remains worryingly low— This trend could influence the virus’ transmission patterns over decades. And if annual COVID-19 vaccination coverage continues on its current trajectory, is worse than suboptimal U.S. influenza vaccination coverage, or falls even further, the severity rate will rise again. may start. Experts also remain concerned about the prolonged ambiguity surrounding COVID-19, with risks still unclear.
You may get lucky. Perhaps he believes 2023 will be the beginning of a genuine post-pandemic era. Perhaps the last few months really provide us with teaser trailers for the decades to come. But even so, it’s not a complete comfort.COVID-19 still remains Leading cause of death in the United StatesThe virus continues to kill around 200 to 250 people each day there, many of them among the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of the population. It is true that things are better than they were a few years ago. But in some ways this is a very unfair comparison.fatalities (number would have had It was higher when immunity was low. Vaccines, tests and treatments were in short supply. And very little was understood about viruses. “I hope the standard for saying we’re successful, we don’t need to do more, is not.” Are we in a better situation than the deadliest year in history?‘” Bilinsky told me. Perhaps a better question is why are we content with the status quo? This period of stability may be less of a comfort than a burden we carry forever.