A major holiday season surge in COVID-19 infections is unlikely, the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, said Tuesday.
“We are in a very different place and we will remain in a different place,” Jha said, according to STAT News. “We are now at a point where I believe if you’re up to date on your vaccines, you have access to treatments … there really should be no restrictions on people’s activities. I’m pretty much living life the way I was living life in 2019.”
The statement comes after health officials warned for months of an upcoming spike in COVID-19 infections heading into the winter season, with The World Health Organization issuing a statement earlier this fall urging people to get vaccinated before a surge.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased, but they have done so only slightly and remain well below levels seen this time last year, according to a data tracker by The New York Times.
Last year in mid-November, there were about 80,000 new daily cases in the U.S., and about 3 people per 100,000 were being admitted to hospitals with the virus, according to the data tracker. This week, there are about 40,000 new daily cases and 2.2 people per 100,000 are being admitted to hospitals.
A pandemic model run by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates between 53,000 and 70,000 new daily cases in the U.S. by February 2023. In mid-January 2022, daily cases peaked around 800,000, according to the data tracker from the Times. The University of Washington predictions are based on assumptions of strong continued vaccination and booster rates.
Health officials continue to urge everyone to receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters. Many studies show that vaccination and masking limit the severity of infections as well as the spread of the virus.
STAT News: “White House’s Jha isn’t predicting a severe Covid surge this holiday season.”
World Health Organization: “Joint statement: Working together towards COVID-19 and seasonal influenza vaccinations for this winter.”
The New York Times: “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count.”
Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation: “COVID-19 Results Briefing, United States of America, October 21, 2022.”