In a new study from Penn State, researchers found the worst of the pandemic may finally be over.
The team’s COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub projects that COVID-19 cases will decrease across the United States, barring the emergence of any new variants or major changes in behavior.
This projected decline in cases could be due to a number of factors, including the availability of vaccines to children ages 5 to 11, which may be available in the next few weeks, and the increasing number of people that are now immune due to either vaccination or natural exposure to the virus.
The researchers combined nine different mathematical models from different research groups to project the trajectory of the pandemic over the next six months.
The team specifically examined four potential scenarios, including whether childhood vaccine uptake will be high and whether a more infectious new variant will emerge.
The most likely scenario is that children aged 5 to 11 will be approved for vaccination and that no new super spreading variant will emerge.
In this case, by March 2022, COVID-19 infections across the United States could slowly and steadily drop from about 140,000 per day today to about 9,000 per day, and deaths could decline from about 1,500 per day today to fewer than 100 per day.
These numbers are similar to those that characterized the US in March 2020 when the virus was just starting to spread throughout the country.
They are also lower than the numbers seen in the US earlier this summer after the vaccines had been available for several months and before the Delta variant had begun to gain the upper hand.
The team notes that, at the state level, however, the team’s results suggest significant variation in projected cases.
Vaccine availability to children ages 5 to 11 is also expected to contribute to a drop in COVID-19 cases, with several thousand fewer deaths and tens of thousands of fewer cases across the US.
And if a new, more transmissible variant appears, the drop could comprise hundreds of thousands of fewer cases and a similar relative decrease in hospitalizations.
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One researcher of the study is Katriona Shea.
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