COVID-19: Is the Worst Yet to Come?


“Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things,” Dr. Fauci warned during a panel for Harvard Medical School. It’s been about around nine months since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the United States, and as we progress into the fall and winter months, some doctors are concerned that the worst is yet to come (Dr. Christopher Murray, director of IHME). 


The number of new daily COVID-19 cases has slowly been decreasing over the past two weeks (as of 9/10), but cases are expected to rise as schools and businesses start to reopen. “We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter because it’s not going to be easy,” Fauci said. He also warned of the post-Labor Day surges causing the number of daily cases to rise, just like what happened with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. 


In an interview with MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” Fauci expressed his concerns about those who say that the United States has “rounded the final turn” on the Coronavirus. He discussed how the daily rate of new cases death rate has been plateauing at around 40,000 cases a day and 1,000 deaths a day (as of 9/12). He then again raised concerns about how holidays and the changing seasons could affect these rates. Although the current number of new cases per day is significantly lower than the peak, Fauci urges Americans to be cautious since the country is still reporting a worrisome level of new cases.


Public health specialists and doctors have expressed different reasons why the upcoming seasons will be a challenge. Due to the colder weather, more people will be doing indoor activities, such as indoor dining. Officials also believe that the seasonal flu could cause troubles to health systems and laboratories as they respond to both epidemics. A vaccine will help limit the spread of the virus, and Fauci is optimistic that scientists will find at least one effective vaccine by the end of this year or early 2021.


The FDA has warned that a potential vaccine will be unlikely to be cleared by election day. The move helps the FDA boost transparency and public trust as polls show that many are skeptical a vaccine will be effective and safe to use. Public health officials are warning that President Trump’s predictions that a COVID-19 vaccine could be out by Nov. 3 are prompting Americans to believe that the vaccine may be rushed and possibly tainted. Polls show how politicized the race to develop a vaccine has become, and it’s taking a toll. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of people who said they would take the vaccine if it were available today has dropped to 50% from 72% in May. 


Although a vaccine isn’t expected to be out by election day, Fauci told Congress that the U.S. can expect enough vaccine doses for every American by April. He later than discussed that once scientists find a safe and effective vaccine the U.S. can start thinking about “returning to some form of normality.” The director of the CDC, Robert Redfield stated that Americans will be able to return to “regular life” by the third quarter of next year. Redfield also urged that COVID-19 “activity will likely continue for some time.”