Why It’s Too Soon to Call It COVID Season
COVID seems to spike twice a year but not in a predictable pattern
Fall has arrived, flu shots are rolling out in pharmacies and pediatricians are watching for an uptick in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. In other words, it's virus season. COVID deaths and hospitalizations also began rising at the end of July, and wastewater surveillance that looks for the virus has been on a slow upward trend.
So, do we have a "COVID season" now? It's an important question, because knowing when cases will surge could help public health officials and health care administrators plan for vaccines, treatments and hospital staffing—and might prompt everyone else to be a little more self-protective.
But experts on the front lines and doing data analysis say it's too soon to declare that COVID has achieved seasonality. Looking back over the previous three years, they do see patterns: a spike at some point in the summer, such as the arrival of the Delta variant in 2021, and a spike sometime in the late fall or winter, such as the Thanksgiving surge of Omicron later that year. But those spikes haven't occurred at the exact same time from year to year, and it's possible they didn't all arise for the same reasons.
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