CDC forecasts that daily Covid deaths in the US could drop 25% by early February

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The CDC projects that anywhere between 9,800 to 35,700 deaths from Covid will occur in the U.S. during the week that ends on February 12. This means deaths could drop by up to 25% over the next three weeks

America’s Covid situation could reverse fortune soon, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) releasing another projection this week showing a potential plummeting of deaths from the virus. The agency released projections on Wednesday showing that daily deaths in the U.S. could drop to as low as 1,400 per day by the week of February 12 – down 25 percent from the 1,867 current daily death average.

The CDC’s projections estimate that somewhere between 9,800 and 35,700 new Covid deaths will occur during the week that ends on February 12, or in three weeks. That means that anywhere between 1,400 and 5,100 Americans will die every day that week if the projections hold true.

Projected totals match figures cited by the White House earlier this week that somewhere between 58,000 and 305,000 Americans will die from the virus between now and mid-March – or 1,000 to 5,000 deaths per day on average over the next two months. 

Higher ends of these projections, while scary, seem outlandish when considering the current state of the pandemic. The highly infectious Omicron variant is a more mild strain, with CDC data revealed last week finding that the variant is 91 percent less likely to cause death that the Delta strain. Omicron accounts for 99.5 percent of active cases in the U.S. as well, and CDC director Rochelle Walensky even said last week that recent upticks in Covid deaths are more the responsibility of the more severe Delta variant.  

The U.S. reaching 5,000 daily deaths would require mortality to triple in the U.S., even as daily cases start to decline and the virus starts to recede.

America is currently logging an average of 739,234 new cases every day – a six percent drop for the 787,887 deaths being averaged this time last week. On Wednesday, the nation recorded 979,920 cases. While it is a higher total than some previous Wednesdays, some lagging cases from the holiday weekend are still trickling in.

Daily deaths are up eight percent over the past week, from 1,717 deaths last week to 1,867 as of Wednesday.

The CDC also projected that 9,600 to 36,900 Covid hospitalizations will be reported during the week that ends of February 11. Hospitalization figures in the U.S. have become unreliable as many Covid positive people receiving treatment for other conditions are added to the tally

The CDC also projected that 9,600 to 36,900 Covid hospitalizations will be reported during the week that ends of February 11. Hospitalization figures in the U.S. have become unreliable as many Covid positive people receiving treatment for other conditions are added to the tally

The CDC also projected that 9,600 to 36,900 Covid hospitalizations will be reported during the week that ends of February 11 – or between 1,371 to 5,271 hospitalizations per day. While the U.S. is technically recording a pandemic-high number of hospitalizations at the moment – averaging 158,638 Americans receiving care while Covid positive every day – the figure is unreliable as many people receiving treatment for another condition at a hospital are testing positive while present and being added to the total.

Daily cases are no longer included in these projections by the CDC. It represents a shift away from using daily case counts as a barometer for the current state of the pandemic in the U.S., as the rampant spread of a more mild variant has made daily case counts often appear much more worrying than they truly are. Some media organizations, like the Associated Press, have even abandoned reporting on new daily case records in U.S. states.

A potential decrease in cases and deaths in the coming weeks has been on the cards for the U.S. Experts, including Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have predicted that daily cases in the country would eventually recede as the rapidly spreading Omicron variant would eventually run out of people to infect.

Data from the UK and South Africa shows that the Omicron surge will likely rapidly decline after reaching its peak.  Cases in the UK have slashed since reaching their peak in early January – down from around 180,000 cases per day to 100,000.

The situation across the pond has brightened so much over the past few weeks that almost all Covid restrictions in the country have been lifted. Work from home orders, mask mandates and some indoor capacity restrictions have already been dropped.

South Africa experienced the first major case surge associated with the new variant in late November. Officials in the country were the first to discover the highly infectious, vaccine resistant, variant after dozens of breakthrough infections were discovered and sequenced. 

Cases in the country rocketed, reaching over 23,000 per day in mid December. Cases are already down to around 3,300 per day as of Wednesday, as the massive decline of cases continue and it seems like the country has already defeated the variant.

The CDC reports that the Omicron variant (purple) makes up 99.5% of Covid cases in the U.S., while Delta (orange) only makes up 0.3%. Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Delta was still responsible for increases in America's Covid mortality.

The CDC reports that the Omicron variant (purple) makes up 99.5% of Covid cases in the U.S., while Delta (orange) only makes up 0.3%. Last week, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Delta was still responsible for increases in America’s Covid mortality.

Between declining cases, the less viscous strain and more effective treatments against the virus becoming available, many are hopeful that the COVID-19 pandemic will end this year. 

A model developed by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluations shows that Covid deaths could be in the low hundreds by late spring and early summer. If that is the case, it would be one of the lowest daily death totals since Covid took the nation by storm in March 2020.

Scott Gottlieb, former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and current board member at Pfizer, believes the virus could be controlled soon, and transition from pandemic to endemic. 

’I think the base case is that this signals the end of the pandemic phase of this virus,’ Gottlieb tolb CNBC’s the Squawk Box earlier this week.

Omicron has infected so many Americans – many of which had cases that were never logged into official data – that it will soon just run out of people to infect. Between natural protection a person has from previous infection, and the millions of Americans who have received booster shots, the variant is quickly running out of hosts.

Fauci warns against being too confident that Omicron spells the end of the pandemic. Like the rise of Omicron – which managed to evade much of the protection people have from either vaccines or previous infection – he fears another mutant strain that can evade protection could arise as well. 

‘I would hope that that’s the case. But that would only be the case if we don’t get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant,’ Fauci said.

Fauci has previously made grim projections about new COVID variants, and was ultimately proven correct about a variant like Omicron emerging.

In August, when the Delta variant was first rising in the US, Fauci warned that with transmission of Covid so rampant it was likely that a vaccine resistant variant would eventually emerge.

Months later, than variant did come about, when South African health officials discovered the highly infectious Omicron variant in late November.

If Covid does reach the endemic stage, then it will still be around, just controlled. The virus would still infect a certain section of the population every year. Infections would be relatively minor, though, and people will be able to live normal lives with out masking, social distancing, or vaccination checks.

Fauci also said this week he expects Covid vaccine eligibility to be expanded to include children under the age of five, which would put the U.S. among a shortlist of countries to vaccinate its youngest population that suffers little risk from the jab. 

The UK often trends ahead of the U.S. by a few weeks regarding Covid, and if this week is any indicator, things will brighten for the U.S. very soon. Starting Thursday, Covid rules in the UK have been scrapped. Work from home orders are now gone, and masking and capacity restrictions will soon follow.

Covid cases in the country have been steadily dropping over the past two weeks. The nation is averaging 108,069 cases per day, a 16 percent decrease from the 129,587 cases recorded last week. Deaths, often a lagging indicator behind cases, have steadied after surging during the early Omicron surge, averaging 359 cases per day, down 10 percent from the 398 case average last week.

‘The central decision that he made which was to absolutely focus on boosters has been vindicated … that is the main reason that we are where we are today because the Prime Minister made those decisions,’ Health Minister Sajid Javid said of the dropped restrictions. 

‘The way we are going to do this is we’re going to have to find a way to remove almost all of these restrictions and get life completely back to normal but with one or two really big things that I think will be there for a while.

‘That is I think probably the need to vaccinate, I can’t tell you how often that will be, but I think vaccinations will remain hugely important just as we have to have annual vaccinations protecting older people against flu.

‘I think antivirals and treatments will continue to play a big role, especially for those that might be more exposed, and I think testing, it’s great where we are today with testing and I think it will improve over time.

‘These pharmaceutical defenses of the vaccines, antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, and testing, I think they will be the cornerstone of our future defenses.’

For comparison, the U.S. does not have these types of national mandates that Britain has. While many Americans are living under some sort of restriction, whether mask mandates, vaccine requirements or more, some citizens do not face any. States will largely make decision for themselves in Omicron continues to decline in the coming weeks, with red states likely to drop mandates quicker than their blue counterparts.  

Life has returned to its pre-Omicron state in South Africa as well, as cases have declined so sharply that many are no longer fearful of the mutant strain. Hospitals are starting to empty in the nation as well – with weekly hospitalizations halving from 9,624 in mid-December to 4,772 last week nationwide. Cases have dropped by 80 percent during that period as well.

France’s record Covid wave seems to be cresting as well, with the European nation finally seeing rampant case growth slow down in recent days. The country was averaging 286,000 cases per day as of last case reports on January 14, a ten percent increase over the 262,000 cases being recorded daily the week before.

For comparison, over the previous week, cases had increased by 63 percent.

Denmark was one of the first countries to suffer an Omicron-fueled Covid outbreak. The nation saw cases rapidly increase, and officials in the state instituted partial lockdown measures to counter the spread of the virus. Over the weekend, restrictions were lifted, signaling the nation is more comfortable with Omicron at the moment.

The country is averaging 28,800 new cases per day as of Wednesday, a record for the Nordic nation. Denmark has never suffered a massive surge of Covid cases, with its record being around 35 per day last winter. Currently, the nation is recording ten deaths from the virus daily.

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