In recent times, people have been optimistic that the COVID-19 pandemic would be eradicated soon. Life has started to seem as if it was pre-pandemic, with mask mandates being lifted and large gatherings able to occur once again. In fact, as of Sept. 28, the current 7-day moving average of daily new cases of 47,112 is a decrease of 13.1% compared with the previous 7-day moving average of 54,202. As of this time period, COVID-19 had decreased substantially in the United States. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about other areas of the world.
In Europe, specifically, there has been a new wave of COVID-19. Recently, there has been an increase in contaminations, hospitalizations and even deaths. For instance, France’s COVID-19 figures from Oct. 3 showed that the seven-day average of daily cases had reached 45,631, which is the highest it’s been since Aug. 2. This is France’s eighth wave of COVID-19 since the pandemic began over two years ago. Other countries throughout Europe are also experiencing something similar to this, with new COVID-19 waves occurring and deaths suddenly increasing again. This leaves people with questions about why and how COVID-19 became so prominent again in Europe.
Many researchers believe that the shift into the autumn and winter months is the main factor behind the increase in cases. In colder months, the decline in temperature amplifies the chance of getting sick. The World Health Organization’s Director-General (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explains at the opening of the 13th IHR Emergency Committee meeting on COVID-19, “This is to be expected, as the weather cools in the northern hemisphere and people spend more time together inside. Given the current situation, we expect continued transmission of the virus, and we expect reported cases of COVID-19 to increase.” In addition, the WHO claimed that millions of people throughout Europe have not received the COVID-19 vaccines. All of these factors are fueling the uprising of COVID-19 in Europe.
This COVID-19 increase has people wondering if the disease will continue to spread outside of areas of Europe, including the U.S. There are many mixed opinions on whether people in the U.S. should be concerned about a new and large COVID-19 strain emerging here. For one, Michael Osterholm, the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NPR that the U.S. needs to be prepared because in the past, “what’s happened in Europe often has been a harbinger for what’s about to happen” here. In this case, Osterholm believes that the U.S. will follow Europe’s COVID-19 surge. However, others believe the U.S. has a lot more immunity than it did last winter. Jennifer Nuzzo, Leader of the Pandemic Center at the Brown University School of Public Health, tells NPR that she believes that because many people are vaccinated, the U.S. will not have a severe increase in COVID-19 cases.
Currently, it is still too soon to know if the U.S. will get hit with a large COVID-19 wave. Researchers are stating that being up-to-date on all COVID-19 vaccines and taking the available steps to stay healthy are necessary in avoiding a new outbreak.