March 20, 2022
U.S. health officials are watching a steady climb in U.K. COVID-19 cases, often a harbinger of what’s next in the U.S., according to U.S. health officials NPR.
The number of daily cases has increased by 38% over the past week. The latest data From the UK Health Security Agency. Hospitalizations also rose by about 25 percent.
“Over the past year or so, what happens in the UK usually happens a few weeks later,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NPR.
“And now, there’s been a bit of a rebound in the number of cases in the UK,” he said.
UK health officials noted that the recent increase may be due to the contagious BA.2 Omicron subvariant, the recent easing of coronavirus restrictions and weakened immunity to vaccines and infections.
“We have all three of these factors in the U.S.,” Fauci said. “So if over the next few weeks we see cases stabilizing, even [the curve] bounced back and rose slightly. “
U.S. COVID-19 cases have now fallen to their lowest level since July 2021. CDC latest data, with less than 30,000 daily cases. At the same time, the rate of decline in cases has slowed significantly and is starting to level off.
Public health experts also pointed to wastewater surveillance data showing an upward trend in virus activity across the country.CDC’s Wastewater Dashboard Indicates growth of approximately 35 percent of wastewater monitoring sites, with continued growth in Florida, Rhode Island, and West Virginia.
“The power of wastewater surveillance is that it’s an early warning system,” Amy Kirby, program director for the CDC’s National Wastewater Surveillance System, told NPR.
“We’re seeing signs of growth in some communities across the country,” she said. “What looked like noise at the start of the week is starting to look like a real signal this weekend.”
Wastewater systems do not differentiate between subvariables such as Omicron and BA.2.However, other CDC data An increase in BA.2 cases in the United States was found, accounting for about a quarter of new COVID-19 cases.
The BA.2 variant roughly doubled every week in the last month, which means it could become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the U.S. in the coming weeks. usa today. Cases appear to be spreading faster in the Northeast and West, accounting for about 39% of cases in New York and New Jersey last week.
BA.2 also accounts for nearly 39 percent of cases in the Northeast, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to USA Today. In the West, which includes Arizona, California and Nevada, the subvariant accounts for about 28 percent of new cases. In the Upper West, which includes Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, about 26 percent of cases are BA.2.
The good news is that BA.2 “doesn’t seem to evade our vaccines or immunity any more than the Omicron before it” [variant]. and it doesn’t appear to cause further increases in the severity of the disease,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, told NPR Morning Edition on Friday.
The impact of BA.2 may depend on the immunization status of the U.S., including how long someone has been vaccinated, boosted, or recovered from infection, she said.
Health officials are looking at other countries where BA.2 has increased, such as Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Many European countries have been reporting an uptick but have not imposed major restrictions or shutdowns, USA Today reported.
Fauci told NPR that the BA.2 variant may not lead to a significant increase in severe illness or strict COVID-19 measures, but if cases increase sharply, some coronavirus protocols may need to be implemented again.
“We must be prepared to pivot and reintroduce stricter mask mitigation measures if necessary,” he said.