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COVID for the Holidays

The number of fully vaccinated Americans has reached 200 million and yet new COVID cases continue to rise, averaging almost 119,000 per day; the death toll has hit 800,000. While the Delta variant remains the cause of the majority of infections, the Omicron variant continues to spread, with cases found in 30 states and the District of Columbia. And while the CDC has the final say, the FDA approved an emergency use authorization for boosters for 16- and 17-year olds.

With all of this—rising cases and deaths, a new variant, more booster eligibility—what can we expect during the 2021 holiday season? Here is a roundup of what some experts are saying about Omicron, boosters, and a potential end to the pandemic.

Dr. Anand Parekh, BPC chief medical advisor, was asked on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal about the Omicron variant and what still needs to be understood:

Dr. Leana Wen, BPC board member and former Baltimore Health Commissioner, spoke about mitigation measures and her advice for the Biden administration in a recent episode of BPC Weekly: “I would urge President Biden to go much further with the other measures that we already know to be effective. So definitely encouraging everyone to get boosters at this point. This is not a question of waiting to get boosters or seeing boosters as a luxury. It’s time to see boosters as being absolutely essential and President Biden has already urged people to get boosters, but I think they can go even further and potentially change the definition of what it means to be fully vaccinated to include having the booster dose.”

White House COVID advisor and NIAID director Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked when we might evolve to more of endemic environment: “The trick is what level in that bracket of endemicity are we going to wind up at? Are we going to be at a very, very low level where we barely even notice it sort of like those kinds of infections in the community that are there, it makes a few people sick, but it doesn’t impact what we do? Or is it going to be high enough that we’re always going to have to be careful that we’re going to get a resurgence. Obviously, the optimum would be get so low that we can start to really return to what we feel is as close to normal as we can. When we get there… is going to depend entirely on us, how well we vaccinate the public, how well we get boosters to people because we know that the vaccine efficacy clearly wanes. … If we can get most of the people who are eligible to be boosted boostered, we can go a long way to making 2022 much more of a normal year than what we’ve seen in 2021.”

BPC’s health team has their finger on the pulse of the latest COVID developments. Stay tuned as we all wait and see if 2022 will be the year we transition out of a pandemic and into more “normalcy.”

For more:
Listen to Dr. Wen’s full comments on episode 85 of BPC Weekly
Hear Dr. Parekh respond to callers on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal
Watch the entire COVID-19: What’s the Forecast for the Holidays discussion from November

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