At the global level, mobility is above pre-COVID levels, and mask use is at the lowest level since mid-March 2020. The move away from social distancing combined with the spread of the new Omicron subvariant is fueling a surge in many parts of the world, especially in Europe Notable in France and Germany). These surges have also not been associated with a large increase in deaths due to COVID-19. Different patterns are evident in reported cases, reported hospital admissions (where available) and reported deaths. In the US and many countries of Europe, the increase in reported hospitalizations is much higher than the increase in reported cases, and the reverse pattern is seen in Latin America. These different patterns are likely related to the extent of home use of self-administered rapid antigen tests and the extent to which all patients coming to hospital are tested for COVID-19. In high-resource settings, routine admissions testing for COVID-19 may be leading to a substantial number of hospital admissions with but not due to COVID-19. We predict a surge in reported cases in the US this fall. We also forecast a Northern Hemisphere increase in transmission beginning in October. As we have repeatedly seen, the general seasonal pattern of COVID19 can be dominated by the emergence of a new variant. Three Omicron waves associated with BA.1, BA.2, and now BA.5 have been seen in a number of countries. The emergence of a novel variant with increased immune escape and increased severity is possible and could have a substantial impact on the world as infection-acquired and vaccine-derived immunity wanes through the rest of the year. The combination of continued vaccine hesitancy and increases in access to vaccines means that only 3% of the world who want to be vaccinated are not vaccinated. Given high rates of past infection and protection from past infection that is essentially equivalent to vaccination, the opportunity to substantially reduce future burden of COVID-19 through enhanced vaccination is small. The main strategies for managing the current increase in transmission and future variants include: 1) maintaining and improving surveillance by increased focus on hospital admissions due to COVID-19 (excluding incidental COVID-19 admissions); 2) ensuring access to antivirals in those who can benefit from them in low- and middle-income countries; 3) promoting boosters in those who are willing to receive them to maintain protection against severe disease; and 4) targeted use of social distancing and masking in those at increased risk due to age and comorbidity.
1. Discuss the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. Discuss what is the impact of the new variants on the spread of the virus.
3. Explain what should our response be to control this pandemic.