Researchers who are studying the spread COVID-19 believe that the number of coronavirus cases has reached a peak and will continue to decline throughout the spring.
The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling hub, which is a group of over 100 people who work to forecast the pandemic, welcomes this news.
“This is like the weather. We can give a pretty good weather forecast going out a couple weeks in the future, but we can’t really see much more in specifics,” said Justin Lesser, a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina.
The 7-day average number of COVID-19 new cases per day is currently just below 115,000, as compared to 134,000 a week ago. In the best case scenario, if a new COVID-19 variant doesn’t emerge and childhood vaccines take off, then we could see 9,000 new COVID-19 cases per day by mid March.
If child vaccinations don’t take off or a new COVID-19 variation emerges, the United States can reduce daily cases by 50% to 50,000 in the worst case.
“I think all the models agree, there’s some disagreement in timing, but they all agree that immunity will eventually start having a big impact on the course of the pandemic and we should see declining cases as we go through the winter and into the early spring,” said Lessler.
Since last winter, the team has been predicting different scenarios for different times of the pandemic. The COVID-19 Scenario Modeling Hub forecast that cases would rise from May to early fall, which was when delta began to take hold in the U.S. One of the nine models almost predicted when cases would peak and begin to rise dramatically.
Experts say that winter forecasts are changing. They have been influenced by rising vaccinations, due to the threat of the delta. This has driven people who were once hesitant about getting vaccinated to get vaccinated.
“It’s really the immunity, I think, that will be driving those decreases,” said Rebecca Borchering, a post-doctoral researcher at Penn State University.
“I see these less as being blanket optimistic and more saying, ‘Hey, things should turn around. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but they’re not turned around yet,’” said Lessler. “I think there’s huge value in just getting people on the same page in terms of the questions being asked.”