COVID-19 winter forecast: the next 6 months

• Experts predict that we will see more familiar trends like outbreaks causing school closure, hospital crowding, and hesitation about returning to work.
• Vaccination is needed — and the U.S. government could roll out further mandates, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
• Best-case scenario is that COVID-19 evolves into something like the common cold or flu.

The short answer: Don’t expect the coronavirus pandemic to be over in the U.S. any time soon.

While vaccines initially signaled hope, the Delta variant has quickly made Americans forget the small victories won against the coronavirus. High numbers of unvaccinated Americans remain even after the Food and Drug Administration granted full approval of vaccines. And now early forecasts from medical experts suggest we have a long way to go before COVID-19 becomes an afterthought.

Bloomberg reported that people should expect more:

  • Outbreaks that cause schools to close and cancel classes.
  • Nursing homes with vaccinated residents facing possible infection.
  • Workers remaining on the fence about returning to the office.
  • Hospitals hitting maximum capacity.

This all sounds eerily reminiscent of what we’ve seen in the past year since the pandemic began here in March 2020.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, told the outlet that cases could easily surge in the fall and winter as it had last year.

“We’re going to see hills and valleys, at least for the next several years as we get more vaccine out. That’s going to help. But the challenge is going to be: How big will the hills and valleys be, in terms of their distance?” Osterholm said. “We don’t know. But I can just tell you, this is a coronavirus forest fire that will not stop until it finds all the human wood that it can burn.”

What the imminent future looks like with COVID-19

Citing commentary by experts, Bloomberg said that the current outbreak cannot be tamed until 90% to 95% of the global population has some form of immunity either due to immunization or previous infection. Currently, more than 5.71 billion shots have been given around the world; of those, 380 million doses in the U.S have been administered.

Experts are calling for people to get vaccinated, which they say is the key piece to solving the coronavirus puzzle.

“Without vaccination, one is like a sitting duck, because the virus will spread widely and find most everybody this autumn and winter,” Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist, told the publication.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said in August that he hopes the U.S. will have some control over COVID-19 by next spring, while warning on Sunday that “many, many more mandates” will come from the Biden administrations’ new vaccine restrictions, which recently told companies employing more than 100 workers to either mandate vaccination or require regular testing.

COVID-19 could become the flu

This isn’t going to happen overnight, but COVID-19 may develop more like a common cold or the flu one day. The reason it hasn’t turned into that yet is because of the Delta variant and unvaccinated numbers remaining high.

The Wall Street Journal said that in order for COVID-19 to become mild, most people will need to build up some form of immunity. But that becomes threatened if immunity begins to weaken, or if the virus mutates, which early strains have already shown.

More on COVID-19:

New findings about catching COVID-19 in public restrooms

Controversy surrounds President Biden’s vaccine mandate and how it will affect business

Here’s how long reusable COVID cloth masks are effective