Up to 100 million Americans could be infected with COVID during fall, winter wave, White House says

More than 100 million Americans could be infected during a potentially significant wave of COVID-19, poised to strike the United States this fall and winter, the Biden administration has warned.

A senior administration official revealed the projection — equivalent to nearly a third of all Americans — to multiple outlets on Friday, as the United States inches ever closer to the 1 million coronavirus deaths. It also comes amid efforts to increase citizen preparedness as well a renewed push for additional congressional funding for items like booster shots, antiviral treatments, testing and surveillance.

The estimate is based on an underlying assumption that lawmakers will not approves the $22 billion request, which would result in fewer tests, treatments and vaccines for the American people. It also does not account for the potential emergence of new, more contagious variants.

Last winter, between 130 and 140 million Americans were infected during a huge spike in coronavirus cases, fueled primarily by the omicron variant.

Experts have speculated that the upcoming surge will likely span a longer time frame than the last.

The Biden administration has also emphasized that while Americans should be aware, they need not necessarily panic about the forthcoming wave. Officials specifically pointed to recent medical developments, including Pfizer’s COVID pill called Paxlovid.

What’s more, both the New York-based drugmaker and its rival, Moderna, are working on updated vaccines aimed at being more protective and effective against newer variations of the virus. They could be ready as soon as the fall.

The Biden administration for weeks has been sounding the alarm about the need for additional funding and that it is necessary to continue the federal COVID-19 response.

Should the funding fail to come through, the administration official said there is a contingency plan in place. The money would instead come from the pot for testing, new treatments and vaccine education and outreach.