Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no.
September 6, 2022 - Is the coronavirus on its way out?
You might think so. New, updated booster shots are being rolled out to better protect against the variants circulating now. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dropped COVID-19 quarantine and distancing recommendations. And more people have thrown off their masks and returned to pre-pandemic activities.
But scientists say no. They predict the scourge that’s already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future.
One reason it’s lasted this long? It’s gotten better and better at getting around immunity from vaccination and past infection. Scientists point to emerging research that suggests the latest omicron variant gaining ground in the U.S. — BA.4.6, which was responsible for around 8% of new U.S. infections last week — appears to be even better at evading the immune system than the dominant BA.5.
CDC director Rochelle Walensky said Tuesday that up to 100,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations and 9,000 deaths could be prevented if Americans get the updated booster at the same rate they typically get an annual flu shot this fall. About half of Americans are typically vaccinated against the flu each year.
People can also keep protecting themselves by taking other precautions like, for example, wearing masks indoors when COVID rates are high.
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