New Pandemic Peril? Pretending It's Over as Case Numbers Rise
Is COVID pandemic really over? Why we are seeing rise in number of cases?
@indresh Just because many people seem more than ready to put the COVID-19 pandemic behind us doesn't mean it's really over. In fact, case numbers are rising again – with new infections reported in about 95,000 Americans each day – and hospitalizations are up 20% as well.
It's yet another reminder of the dangers that remain from a virus that has now killed more than 1 million Americans.
There needs to be clear communication to the public for people to understand that the virus is still a threat.
How many people will die is very much up to us and our ability to stay up to date on vaccinations, mask up when in a high-risk area, get people who need it rapidly diagnosed and treated, and implement public health and social measures when needed," he said.
The Department of Health and Human Services, meanwhile, is reacting to the new COVID-19 picture by extending its emergency order beyond its expiration date of July 15. The order allows Americans to access medications, vaccines, and more with no out-of-pocket costs part of an emergency use authorization.
The daily average of hospitalizations has reached 3,000, an increase of 19% over last week, and daily deaths are hovering at 275.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, acknowledged that while these numbers are far lower than those seen during the first Omicron spike, "Nearly 300 deaths a day is still far too many," she said during a White House media briefing Wednesday.
Concern in Europe
It's not just the U.S. on high alert. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently designated Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 "variants of concern."
In Portugal – a country that has seen climbing COVID-19 case numbers in recent weeks – BA.5 made up around 37% of positive cases as of May 8, according to the Portuguese National Institute of Health.
First identified in South Africa early this year, BA.4 and BA.5 are now the dominant variants in the country.
Because BA.4 and BA.5's daily growth advantage over Omicron strain BA.2 in Portugal (13%) is similar to what was previously reported in South Africa (around 12%), European officials predict BA.5 will be Portugal's dominant variant in the coming days.
The organization says the high growth rate is due to the variants' "ability to evade immune protection induced by prior infection and/or vaccination, particularly if this has waned over time."
While the presence of BA.4 and BA.5 in most parts of Europe remains low, the European CDC predicts the variants could cause a spike in COVID-19 case numbers and could ultimately become the dominant variants in Europe in coming months.
But early research does not suggest that BA.4 and BA.5 are more dangerous, compared to other Omicron strains.