The average daily incidence of COVID-19 and hospitalization continues to decline in the United States, suggesting that the resilience of the omicron variant is declining across the country.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the total number of confirmed cases reported on Saturday barely exceeded 100,000, down sharply from about 800,850 five weeks ago, on January 16th.
In New York, the number of cases has dropped by more than 50% in the last two weeks.
“I think the decline is certainly affected by the fact that omicron is starting to lack people to infect,” said Dr. Thomas Rousseau, professor and head of infectious diseases at Jacobs University’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Buffalo University.
According to the COVID-19 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 fell from the national average of 146,534 on January 20 to 80,185 for the week ending February 13.
Health experts say they hope an even bigger decline lies ahead and that the country is moving from a pandemic to an “endemic” that is more consistent and predictable. However, many have expressed concern that vaccine growth in the U.S. is still below expectations, fears exacerbated by the lifting of restrictions against COVID-19.
Dr William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine said on Sunday that the reduction in cases and hospitalizations was encouraging. He agreed that this was probably due to the immunity of the herd.
“There are two sides to the Omicron coin,” he said. “The bad thing is that it can spread to many people and make them easily sick. It is good that it can spread to many people and make them mild diseases, because by doing so, he has created a great natural immunity.
However, Schaffner said it was too early to “raise the flag of the mission.” As a health expert, he said he would be more comfortable if the downturn continued for another month or two.
“If I have a concern, it is that lifting interventions, restrictions can happen with a little more enthusiasm and speed than I am comfortable with,” he said. “My own saying: it’s better to wear a mask for too long than to take off the mask a month too early and suddenly get another tide.”
Officials in many states are cutting back on restrictions, saying they are moving away from considering the coronavirus pandemic as a public health crisis and instead moving to prevention policies.
During a news conference Friday, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox announced that from April the state will move to a “steady state” model when Utah closes sites for mass testing, reports that COVID-19 cases are rarer. and advises residents to make personal choices to manage the risk of contracting the virus.
“Now, let me be clear, this is not the end of COVID, but this is the end – or rather the beginning – of COVID treatment, as we do other seasonal respiratory viruses,” the Republican said.
Also Friday, Boston repealed a city policy that confirms vaccination, which required visitors and indoor staff to show evidence of vaccination.
“This news underscores the progress we have made in our fight against Covid-19 through vaccines and boosters,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said on Twitter.
Dr Amy Gordon Bona, a primary care physician in Nashville, said it was not time to reduce vaccination efforts, but to double them. In the spring of 2021, as vaccines became more affordable, the U.S. “tried to declare COVID independent,” she said. Then there were delta and omicron jumps.
Bono, who attended medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans, said the U.S. should approach COVID like Hurricane Season.
“You have to learn to live with COVID, and you have to learn from that,” she said.
One problem is that each region has a unique landscape, she said. In South America, for example, many restrictions were lifted for a while or did not exist at all. However, it is also a region with relatively low levels of vaccination.
“We have suffered so much, and if there is a way to alleviate future suffering, it is to have a more inculcated community,” she said.
In Buffalo Rousseau said he sees two possible next results. First, the U.S. is a fairly quiet spring and summer while immunity is still strong. He said that in such a scenario, immunity is likely to weaken, and in the cooler months during the flu season there will be a large number of new cases, but hopefully there will be no major surge.
In the second – concerning health experts – a new option is developing and evading the wall of immunity, which was created from both omicron infections and vaccinations.
“Can such an option develop – a big question, right?” he said. “This is the concern we need to sort out. Omicron was the first version of this, and there is a saying that “well, over time viruses evolve and become less harmful,” but that’s not the case. Viruses are evolving to infect us. ”