It’s the topic that everyone is sick and tired of hearing about. Yet we can’t seem to shake it. Even after the Omicron variant began to subside we are seeing another spout of COVID-19 cases rising. However, the interesting part about this round is that we aren’t seeing a large rise in hospitalizations and deaths.
This slow climb in hospitalizations and deaths can be connected to the fact that the US has done a very good job of getting vaccinations and booster shots out to its citizens. This makes it so if they contract the virus with the shots that effect of the virus will be much lower than if they didn’t have the vaccine. This is why officials believe that there isn’t a huge jump in hospitalizations even with more people testing positive.
Another large reason that cases are on the rise has to do with the lifting of mandates. At this point, almost everywhere has lifted their mask restrictions and vaccine cards are being asked for less and less. This means we aren’t taking the same measures we were originally taking in the pandemic which is contributing to this new rise. Epidemiologist David Dowdy of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health said “In some ways, this is encouraging, in that we’re starting to see a divergence between the number of cases and the number of hospitalizations and deaths. But it’s also a little bit discouraging that we’ve been through all this and we’re still seeing a flat line and an uptick in the number of people getting admitted to the hospital and in people dying.”
Even with this rise though the numbers aren’t near as close to what we saw at the height of the pandemic. While we should be concerned with wrapping this wave up, people should remain reassured that it is not near as bad as it was.
When it comes to vaccines, scientists have begun to notice that its effects begin to fall off after only a couple months. This is why we are seeing the push for booster shots, to make sure we keep herd immunity. The different variants found amongst COVID-19 have also proved difficult with vaccines. They have been able to sneakily bypass the immunization and still infect people. Jacob Lemieux, an infectious diseases physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been tracking these variants. He claims that they still don’t know why the variants are doing this, “…but it’s raising a lot of really important scientific questions.”
If scientists are able to start answering these questions, it will allow us, as a society, to better understand how to deal with the virus. Being able to kick the virus once and for all would be a miracle, and until then scientists are going to have to keep working. But it is still important to recognize the rise in cases and take effective measures to keep you and others safe. We’ve been at it for two years, so we should be experts at it by now.