Coronavirus Cases Will Decline Through March, Researchers Say

A nurse takes a swab at a Covid-19 Drive-Through testing station for NHS staff on March 30, 2020 in Chessington, United Kingdom. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has spread to many countries across the world, claiming over 30,000 lives and infecting hundreds of thousands more. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Researchers say the coronavirus pandemic may be steadily on the wane through March of next year when cases will allegedly drop to 9,000 a day.

A “consortium of researchers” advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) combined nine different mathematical models to project how the pandemic will progress over the next six months depending on a variety of factors, from childhood vaccinations to the emergence of a more contagious variant, according to NPR.

“Any of us who have been following this closely, given what happened with delta, are going to be really cautious about too much optimism,” Justin Lessler from the University of North Carolina said. “But I do think that the trajectory is towards improvement for most of the country.”

Lessler said the most likely scenario will be childhood vaccinations and no deadly variant, which would lead to cases dropping from 140,000 a day to just 9,000 a day by March; deaths would also drop from 1,500 a day to fewer than 100. Lessler acknowledged a “moderate” surge is a possibility in the coming winter

“We have to be cautious because the virus has shown us time and time again that new variants or people loosening up on how careful they’re being can lead things to come roaring back,” Lessler cautioned.

William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cautioned against interpreting the models in an “overly optimistic fashion” while agreeing the pandemic will be “comparatively under control by March”:

Both Hanage and Lessler note that there will be regional variation with some states continuing to surge for possibly a few weeks. Essentially, things could still get worse in some places before they get better.

Lessler says he is especially worried about Pennsylvania, for example, and he notes that in some Western states like Idaho and Utah, there’s a risk of resurgence. Hanage notes that places with cold winter weather may be susceptible to some increase in cases later in the year.

And hospitals are going to continue to get flooded with patients for a while before infections taper off, and many are already being pushed past the breaking point.

Should the U.S. get hit with an even stronger variant than Delta, the models predict cases will fall just below 50,000 cases per day by March.

“I think a lot of people have been tending to think that with this surge, it just is never going to get better. And so maybe I just need to stop worrying about it and take risks. But I think these projections show us there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Lessler.

“The biggest driver is immunity,” he added. “We’ve seen really big delta waves. The virus has eaten up the susceptible people. So there are less people out there to infect.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in April that the pandemic could be over by spring 2022.

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