The slowing omicron variant across the U.S. is sparking hope that the spring will be “reasonably good” with plunging infections, and fewer hospitalizations and deaths.
That’s according to many infectious disease experts, including Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.
Jha on Sunday provided a “state of the pandemic” in the U.S., noting that COVID-19 cases are down 60% across the country and hospitalizations have dropped by about 30%. COVID-19 deaths have plateaued at a “very high” 2,500-plus per day.
After COVID-19 infections surged in late December and early January due to the omicron variant, cases are now falling rapidly in 47 states, including in Massachusetts. The seven-day average of cases in the Bay State has dropped from a peak of 23,154 infections on Jan. 8 to now 2,826 cases — an 88% plunge.
Hospitalizations have also plummeted in the state, but deaths remain high from the omicron patient surge. The seven-day average of deaths in Massachusetts is now 53 daily deaths.
“We’re on the declining end of Omicron surge,” Jha tweeted. “Infections in some places back to pre-Omicron levels. Others will soon follow.
“Deaths still horribly high, largely driven by our poor vaccination rates,” he added. “That should also, hopefully decline substantially in the upcoming weeks.”
The new BA.2 subvariant of omicron is “clearly” more contagious, he said, but the vaccines still hold up against it.
The subvariant has slowed the descent of infections in the U.K. That might happen in the U.S., but Jha said he’s skeptical BA.2 will cause another surge.
“Expect a reasonably good spring with declining infections, fewer hospitalizations and deaths,” Jha said.
There will probably be more variants down the road, he warned, so now’s the time to “prepare for the future by building up stocks of tests, masks, therapies, work on better vaccines.”