Since the start of the pandemic, the trend has been that whatever happens in Europe will happen on this side of the ocean weeks later. Therefore, scientists fear that with the arrival of summer in the north, a fifth wave of infections will also emerge.
After rising cases in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and France, the United States has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, from an average of 30,000 a day two months ago to 80,000 in mid-May. Largely due to the omicron subvariants, which have been shown to be highly contagious. This could mean another pandemic summer.
The reason for this possible fifth wave, in addition to the spread of sub-variants, is that countries have been relaxing the rules imposed during the pandemic, from physical distance to the use of masks.
In any case, it is a warning sign that the coronavirus is here to happen, and that the pandemic is not over.
Of course, these new waves will affect countries with lower vaccination rates more. And, within the same country, to areas with less immunization.
In the United States this is particularly noticeable: the risk of contracting COVID depends very much on the degree of vaccination of the geographic area.
In California, 70% of the population is fully vaccinated, while in Alabama, it is only 50%, and in South Carolina, 55.8%.
The disparity in vaccination rates by ethnicity/race is another variable that opens the door to greater viral circulation and more infections.
In total there are more than 220 million people fully vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Distribution (CDC) considers a person to be “fully vaccinated” when they have the initial two doses, not counting the boosters.
The question is the distribution of those doses.
In the 38 states for which a total vaccination rate by race/ethnicity can be calculated, as of April 4, 2022, 85% of Asians, 65% of Hispanics, and 63% of non-Hispanic whites had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, rates higher than blacks (57%).
Increased individual vaccination is known to generate robust herd immunity, causing the virus to stop circulating because it simply cannot find new organisms to infect.
Facing the prospect of a tough summer again because of COVID, some local governments are beginning to act. The New York Department of Health is recommending that certain residents wear masks indoors.
Epidemiologists warn that summer is a time of resurgence, as it was with the delta variant last summer. And that the next variant may not be as “friendly” as omicron.
For this reason, they insist that governments must have the flexibility to demand a return to certain public health standards if the pandemic curve is upward again.
They insist that these rules, if established during the summer, should be followed, to protect the entire population from new cases and hospitalizations, but also for those who are immunocompromised, or those who cannot be vaccinated.