First, the bad news:
But the highly transmissible omicron variant threatens to obliterate that benchmark. If models of omicron’s spread prove accurate — even the researchers who produce them admit forecasts are difficult during a pandemic — current numbers may seem small in just a few weeks. Disease modelers are predicting total hospitalizations in the 275,000 to 300,000 range when the peak is reached, probably later this month.
As of Monday, Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, Maryland and Virginia had declared public health emergencies or authorized crisis standards of care, which allow hospitals and ambulances to restrict treatment when they cannot meet demand [The Washington Post].
In the U.S., 840,000 confirmed deaths and 1,700 every day (almost all of whom are unvaccinated). However:
Scientists are seeing signals that COVID-19′s alarming omicron wave may have peaked in Britain and is about to do the same in the U.S., at which point cases 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 still uncertain about how the next phase of the pandemic might unfold. . . . And weeks or months of misery still lie ahead for patients and overwhelmed hospitals even if the drop-off comes to pass.
“There are still 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 cases will peak within the week.
The University of Washington’s own highly influential model projects that the number of daily reported cases in the U.S. will crest at 1.2 million by Jan. 19 and will then fall sharply “simply because everybody who could be infected will be infected,” according to Mokdad [ABC News].
What’s happened in South Africa, with omicron as the latest spike:
Finally, a note from France [The Washington Post]:
In an interview with France’s Le Parisien newspaper, [French President Emmanuel] Macron shared his thoughts about France’s unvaccinated population. He did not mince his words. “The unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,” Macron said. “And so, we’re going to continue doing so until the end. That’s the strategy.”
The English translation hardly does the comment justice. In French, the verb he used is “emmerder,” which means, quite literally, to cover in excrement. The ire is difficult to translate, but in French it is crystal clear.
Actually, it’s quite easy to translate using the verb form of a different four-letter word — followed by “on them”.