Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s upsetting omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point situations may start dropping off dramatically.
The reason: The variant has proved so wildly contagious that it may already be running out of people to infect, just a month and a half after it was first detected in South Africa.
“It’s going to come down as fast as it went up,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle.
At the same time, experts warn that much is nevertheless uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic might unfold. The plateauing or ebbing in the two countries is not happening everywhere at the same time or at the same speed. And weeks or months of misery nevertheless lie ahead for patients and overwhelmed hospitals already if the drop-off comes to pass.
“There are nevertheless a lot of people who will get infected as we descend the slope on the backside,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, director of the University of Texas COVID-19 Modeling Consortium, which predicts that reported situations will peak within the week.
The University of Washington’s own highly influential form projects that the number of daily reported situations in the U.S. will crest at 1.2 million by Jan. 19 and will then fall severely “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected,” according to Mokdad.
In fact, he said, by the university’s complicate calculations, the true number of new daily infections in the U.S. — an calculate that includes people who were never tested — has already peaked, hitting 6 million on Jan. 6.
In Britain, meanwhile, new COVID-19 situations dropped to about 140,000 a day in the last week, after skyrocketing to more than 200,000 a day earlier this month, according to government data.
Kevin McConway, a retired professor of applied statistics at Britain’s Open University, said that while situations are nevertheless rising in places such as southwest England and the West Midlands, the sudden increase may have peaked in London.
The figures have raised hopes that the two countries are about to undergo something similar to what happened in South Africa, where in the span of about a month the wave crested at record highs and then fell considerably.
“We are seeing a definite falling-off of situations in the U.K., but I’d like to see them fall much further before we know if what happened in South Africa will happen here,” said Dr. Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at Britain’s University of East Anglia.
Differences between Britain and South Africa, including Britain’s older population and the inclination of its people to use more time indoors in the winter, could average a bumpier sudden increase for the country and other nations like it.
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