More than 100 million people could get infected this fall and winter in a new covid flare-up, leading to a major surge in hospitalizations and death, White House officials said.
The massive estimate was part of the Biden administration’s pitch to lawmakers for additional coronavirus funding.
The projection assumes that a rapidly evolving covid flare-up in the omicron family will spread through a population that has lower immunity against the infection as the effectiveness of the current vaccines wane.
To avert the crisis, the U.S. needs more money for next-generation vaccines, therapeutics and tests to prevent infections from turning into hospitalizations and deaths, the official said.
The surge is expected to start in the south – where vaccination and booster rates lag – as more people congregate indoors.
About 60 percent of U.S. residents have so far been infected with covid-19, White House officials said, with many stemming from recent omicron variant and subvariant waves.
Biden has requested $22.5 billion for covid funding. However, Republicans have pushed for $10 billion and removed $5 billion in international coronavirus assistance from this request, the Times said.
The request came against the backdrop of the U.S. reaching a 1-million death toll on May 4. President Joe Biden acknowledged this left a “black hole” in the hearts of the families who lost loved ones to the pandemic.
Cases are rapidly rising once again, jumping 33 percent in the space of a week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Since May 4, an additional 29,121 people have died from covid in the U.S., bringing the total to 1,029,121.
A combination of relaxed public health restrictions, cold weather, waning immunity and the increase in coronavirus variants that are more capable of evading immunity would spell doom for the U.S., according to public health experts.
“What they’re saying seems reasonable — it’s on the pessimistic side of what we projected in the covid-19 scenario modeling run,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, in a Washington Post report.
Photo: A patient is taken to United Memorial Medical Center after going through covid testing in Houston, March 19, 2020, file photo, a (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)