There's been no shortage of bad news when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic lately. As cases surge across the U.S., hospitals are becoming overwhelmed and the death toll is climbing. But a recent warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hints that the most horrifying days are not yet behind us, predicting an unprecedented wave of deaths from the disease in the coming weeks. Read on to see what the top health agency says we can likely expect, and for more on how your area is faring, check out This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.
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The CDC expects a staggering loss of life in the next three weeks.
December finished as the deadliest month of the pandemic to date, but January tragically already seems poised to overtake it. The CDC's ensemble forecast predicts that around 92,000 Americans will likely die of COVID-19 within the next three weeks—on top of the 38,000 who have already died this month, CNN reports.
Experts have long feared that an increase in travel and social gatherings over the holiday season would lead to a major surge. In an interview with NPR on Jan. 7, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), cited the record number of travelers reported in December, warning "we believe things will get worse as we get into January." And for more on how to keep yourself safe, check out The CDC Warns That These Face Coverings Are "Not Substitutes for Masks."
Death rates are so bad, they will drive down life expectancy figures.
The historic loss of life has already topped major events, with current figures placing the U.S. death toll due to COVID greater than the number of losses suffered while fighting in World War II. Researchers say that at this rate, the national life expectancy will likely drop by more than a year to 77.48 years—the lowest it's been since 2003, CNN reports.
"Some reduction in life expectancy may persist beyond 2020 because of continued COVID-19 mortality and long-term health, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic," Theresa Andrasfay, a demography and gerontology researcher from the University of Southern California, wrote in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And for more on what's putting you at risk, know that If This Is in Your Kitchen, Your COVID Death Risk May Be Even Higher.
The Moderna CEO predicts COVID will be with us forever.
Other experts have recently made long-term predictions about the virus that shed light on how serious the fight against the virus is. CNBC reports that during a panel discussion at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference on Jan. 13, Stephane Bancel, CEO of pharmaceutical company Moderna that is responsible for one of the effective vaccines currently being administered, shared his vision of the future of COVID.
"SARS-CoV-2 is not going away," Bancel said. "We are going to live with this virus, we think, forever." Experts call this "endemic," which means that the virus will be forever present circulating at low levels but only occasionally causing severe illness. And for more COVID news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Others are optimistic that we'll see improvements by summer.
Fortunately, not all prognostications bring bad news. During an on-air interview with CNN's New Day program on Jan. 13, Paul Offit, MD, a member of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, echoed the warning that the current "awful" winter surge will bring some of the most trying days of the pandemic. But he also pointed out that with two "remarkably effective" vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna already being administered, the imminent release of two more from Astra Zeneca and Johnson&Johnson "right around the corner" means that the overall timeline is improving.
Offit explained out that "we're finally starting to get how to mass administer" shots, and if vaccines can be administered at a rate of 1 to 1.5 million doses per day so that 55 to 60 percent more of the population can get inoculated, early summer may be the time when the tide finally turns. "I really do think that by June, we can stop the spread of this virus," he told CNN. And for more on how you can stay safe, check out These 3 Things Could Prevent Almost All COVID Cases, Study Finds.