Should we be worried about the rising number of new coronavirus infections in the United States? | wired

But to understand the bigger picture, additional steps must be taken, such as expanding wastewater sampling. The decision to test them depends largely on whether each community chooses to conduct its own tests. Matus envisions a more comprehensive system that would help people make decisions based on the concentration of pathogens in different regions, similar to the Air Quality Index, which could be easily visualized as the equivalent of the Air Quality Index. application weather. “We’re excited about the idea of ​​a future where people interact with wastewater data in a similar way to weather information and (its use) is so pervasive in our society,” shares Matus.

It’s too early to say a massive wave of infections is happening, but the hospitalization figures are enough to warrant concern among epidemiologists and public health experts. Although the number of cases and hospitalizations remains relatively low, the virus is killing hundreds of people in the United States every week. By early 2023, an estimated 1 in 10 survivors will have to face a prolonged recovery period, which often includes ongoing health issues such as difficulty breathing or confusion and brain fog.

Why does the number of new coronavirus infections increase in summer?

The current increase in cases could be due to a number of reasons, including weakened immunity. Only about 17% of Americans have received the bivalent vaccine, which is publicly available in the fall of 2022 and is designed to offer better protection against the Omicron variant. Sam Scarpino, director of artificial intelligence and life sciences at Northeastern University’s Institute for Experiential Artificial Intelligence, said the decline in cases in recent months and the fact that many people did not receive a booster dose in 2023 suggested that vaccines and previous infections could be weakened, making the More people are susceptible to the virus.

Experts believe Covid-19 will become a seasonal virus, peaking in the fall and winter like the flu and the common cold, but with other factors allowing it to persist in the warmer months. “Indeed, there are recurrent patterns in most respiratory diseases,” Scarpino said. “I don’t think we know much about their reasons.”

This year, some idiosyncratic factors may come into play. Much of the United States is experiencing a hot summer. As wildfire smoke from Canada invades the East Coast and Midwest, exposure to accompanying particle pollutants can weaken the immune system. A 2021 study found that areas affected by wildfire smoke in California, Oregon and Washington state had an excess of Covid-19 cases and deaths in 2020. Meanwhile, dangerously high temperatures in the southern part of the country are keeping people indoors, where SARS-CoV-2, a respiratory virus, spreads more easily. People were also traveling at record speeds during the early summer months, meaning there was more opportunity for the virus to spread. But it’s unclear whether any, all or none of these factors contributed to the infection.

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