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Beginning of the End? Some Experts Predict COVID-19 Will Recede

By October 1, 2021October 4th, 2021Blog

September 23, 2021

Frank Diamond

Suppose children get vaccinated, and no new variant emerges. In that case, new infections will drop from 134,000 a day to about 9,000 a day by March, according to 1 scenario. As a result, deaths would fall to about 100 a day.

It’s not like some health care experts didn’t see this coming. Of course, no one but no one will say it’s a lock—not after all the nasty surprises COVID-19 has sprung on us—but some indicators point to a steady and steep decline in SARS-CoV-2 over the fall and winter.

The better of the predictions hinge on 1 development and 1 nondevelopment. The former being the creation and launch of a COVID-19 vaccine for children (which could happen in the next few weeks), and the latter being the non-appearance of any new COVID-19 variant as infectious as the Delta variant fueling the current surge.

About 134,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day have been reported over the last week, about a 10% drop from the past 2 weeks. And while infections are rising in 27 states, they are falling in 23, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Mortality rates of 33% over the last 2 weeks (about 2000 people a day) tempers this hopeful news, but deaths are a lagging indicator.

One of the rosier scenarios comes from the COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub, which uses data from 9 different research groups. Justin Lessler, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, associated with the hub, tells NPR if children get vaccinated. Then, new infections will drop from 134,000 to about 9,000 a day by March, with no new highly infectious variant emerging. As a result, deaths would fall to about 100 a day by March.

Source: COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub


Kevin Kavanagh, MD, a member of Infection Control Today®’s Editorial Advisory Board, says that “many were talking” about the chart above, but not everybody had the same interpretation.

“The graph appears to be an old model which was entirely not correct,” Kavanagh tells ICT®. “It predicted that COVID-19 would be gone by this August. This did not happen. Instead, we got Delta. Predicting the future of COVID-19 is like predicting the stock market. Unfortunately, you have two unknowns; one is future human behavior, and the other is viral mutations. The wide range of future projections from IHME illustrates this dilemma.”

Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

Cécile Viboud, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, tells STAT that new cases by the end of November will be down to about where they were in late June and early July: between 7500 to 15,000 per day.

She tells STAT that “we’re probably going to stay there because there is quite a bit of immunity in the population.”

However, both Lessler and Viboud do not seem willing to bet their house just yet that the worst is over.

Vibound: “That assumes that no new variant comes in. Because if you get a new variant that either has higher transmissibility or immune escape potential, then we will see a resurgence.”

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

Maria Van Kerkhove, PhD