“This should be a wake-up call,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “Don’t go back to the pre-July 4th state of mind, where everyone thought it was over. “
Most experts said they wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a small increase in cases later this fall or winter, as people start spending more time indoors and traveling for the holidays. .
But because vaccines remain very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, the upcoming winter peaks could be less catastrophic than those of last year.
“It’s unlikely to be as deadly as the wave we experienced last winter, unless we’re really unlucky with a new variant,” Dr Salomon said.
The emergence of a new variant remains a wild card, as does the possibility that the protection offered by vaccination may start to decline more substantially.
Our own behavior is another source of uncertainty.
“Predicting an epidemic is not like predicting the weather, because you are dealing with human behavior,” said Nicholas Reich, a biostatistician at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “And that’s a fundamentally very hard thing to predict: new policies that would go into effect, people’s reactions to them, new trends on social media, you know, the list goes on and on.
But our behavior is, at least, under our control, and there remains a critical variable as winter approaches, the scientists said. Overall, they didn’t recommend canceling vacation plans; many said they themselves would party with friends and relatives. But they suggested taking reasonable precautions.