100 Million New COVID Infections Could Be Just Months Away

As far as medical publications go, it doesn’t get much better than The Lancet. The journal was established in 1823. It has published many of today’s most important peer reviewed articles, case reviews, and studies in the field.

The weekend will be The Lancet dropped an editorial titled “COVID-19: the next phase and beyond.” It read:

After living for more than 2 years with COVID-19—with over 6·2 million confirmed deaths (but probably many more, with an estimated 20 million excess deaths) and over 510 million confirmed cases—the world is at a critical point. The omicron waves are fading in many countries due to their high transmissibility and milder course, especially for those who are fully vaccinated.

People are gradually returning to pre-pandemic activities like gatherings, office-based job work and cultural events. Many countries are removing mask mandates. Travelling is increasing and testing and surveillance have declined. People are tired and want to forget the pandemic. This would be a grave error.

It is not the right time to abandon COVID-19 and rewrite history. It is time for us to engage vigorously, to redouble our efforts to end the pandemic’s acute phase in 2022 for all, to lay solid foundations for a better future that includes clear accountability and the honest acceptance of difficult truths.

The key phrase in this passage — “It is time to vigorously engage, redouble efforts to end the acute phase of the pandemic in 2022 for all” — cannot be overstated. A sort of passive haze has fallen across our collective approach to this ongoing — yes, ongoing — medical calamity. The headlines are dominated by the brutal war in Ukraine. However, the price of ground beef has been able to overlook the fact that more then 70,000 people were infected yesterday with COVID-19 in this country.

This is a 50% increase in infections over two weeks prior. Although there have been fewer deaths and hospitalizations, the acute phase has not ended. Our shortsightedness has caused us to fail to see the dangers of infection. Due to our collapsed testing system, the 70,000 number is almost certain to be a low estimate.

U.S. Attorney General Antony Blinken, along with a slew of notables from various networks and publications, came down with COVID in the aftermath of the Correspondents’ Dinner, an apt metaphor for the age. “Jada Yuan, a reporter at The Washington Post who tested positive Wednesday after attending the dinner, had said at the time that the ballroom was ‘like a horror film,’” reported The New York Times. “’No exits. Literally getting trapped between tables,’ Yuan wrote on Twitter. ‘Fear of breathing near people but people are everywhere. Creeping sense that you’re the only one who know this is insane.’”

Delta, then Omicron, then BA.1, then BA.2, then BA.2.12.1, and now BA.4 and BA.5 … all variants and subvariantsEach successive round of vaccine shots is progressively less effective than the original form and each step closer to eliminating the rapidly decreasing protections. “The virus that brought us COVID-19 is now going through accelerated evolution,” warnsEric J. Topol is professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research. “Our vaccines must do the same.”

The Biden administration seeks $22.5 billion in emergency assistance to continue pandemic response. These pleas are going straight into the faces of congressional Republicans, who want to cut that amount and tie it to the Title 42 brawl on the border. The short version: This vital funding appears to be willing to go exactly the same way as the White House’s last request for COVID assistance.

“The Biden administration is preparing for the possibility that 100 million Americans — roughly 30 percent of the population — will get infected with the coronavirus this fall and winter,” reports The New York Times. “The 100 million figure, which the official described as a median of what could be expected, also assumes a lack of federal resources if Congress does not approve any more money for tests, therapeutics and vaccines, and that many vaccinated and previously infected people would become infected again.”

Uri Friedman was born in November 2020. wroteFor The Atlantic “The United States — with its diversified economy, cutting-edge scientific innovation, and numerous other resilience-oriented attributes — might have been expected to cope particularly well with a pandemic. But COVID-19 has exposed the country’s vulnerabilities: all-encompassing political polarization; debilitating economic and health-care inequality; a president who has downplayed the threat of the virus and rejected scientific guidance; a decades-long drive to optimize the economy and society for efficiency, not resilience; and a national creed of individualism, optimism, and exceptionalism that has rendered the U.S. resistant to learning from other countries.”

Seventeen months later, The LancetAlong with vaccine experts, the Biden White House is warning loudly that we have not yet been able to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The virus is changing every day, yet we continue to react to it with half-measures and foggy assumptions that “the worst is behind us.” We are one cruel variant away from falling back into a terrifying surge of hospitalizations. That’s not just here in the U.S. That’s everywhere; COVID does love to travel, and the first thing we seem to do when we catch a whiff of progress is to tear off our masks and blow open the borders. “Learning the hard way” already has a million-person body count. How many more can this be tolerated before we finally get it right?

Let’s get ready for real this time.