The Week (US)
Is the end near?
Virologists are cautiously optimistic that by late summer, Covid-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. will fall so dramatically that life will return to near normal. Today, 135 million Americans—more than half of all adults—have been fully vaccinated, and in 10 states, 70 percent have received at least one dose. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 100 million Americans gained some immunity by surviving coronavirus infections (including asymptomatic ones). As a result, the pandemic is already exhibiting “exponential decay.” That’s a rapid plunge in transmission that occurs when the virus can find few new vulnerable people. New cases are down more than 90 percent from the January peak of 250,000 per day, and are still dropping. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines are showing an astonishing realworld effectiveness against serious illness and death of 99 percent, and warm weather is allowing more Americans to spend time outdoors, where transmission is dramatically less likely. By August, average daily Covid deaths, now around 500, may drop below 100—roughly the same daily toll of the seasonal flu. “Things will look very good this summer,” says Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “A lot of people will think that it’s all over. But what happens in the fall is the tricky part.”