According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the United States is currently in the fourth wave of the pandemic. As vaccination rates fall and a new, more contagious strain of the virus spreads, more people are becoming infected.
“Because delta is so much more infectious, it tends to move through communities much more quickly. And if it’s more infectious, it’s going to gobble up the remaining susceptible people more quickly,” explained Paul Hunter, adviser to the World Health Organization on COVID-19.
There is considerable disagreement about where the Delta variant will be in the next few months. The projections of different national centers indicate that the number of cases may either rise or fall in early September, but the majority see a decline.
According to scientists, the virus may have gotten through unvaccinated portions of the country this summertime, but others continue to be exposed. Schoolchildren and office workers will begin mixing in greater numbers this fall, and epidemiologists will watch closely to see whether there is a resurgence of infections.
Even when people are infected, vaccination decreases the chance of severe COVID. COVID’s spread in the United States has been strongly influenced by vaccination levels, social practices, temperature, and different degrees of caution, according to researchers.
Taken together, the steps people take to get vaccinated and stay healthy makeup what is called “herd immunity.” Herd immunity means that if a critical number of people get vaccines and avoid behaviors that spread the virus — such as staying home when sick — then disease can’t easily spread through a community.
Experts are warning that Americans should be alert for outbreaks of disease as people gather with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. There may be a surge in some infections, as happened last year. It will not be as bad as last winter’s flu epidemic, however.