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Experts worry about how US will see next COVID surge coming

Experts fret concerning how US will see following COVID surge coming

NEW YORK (AP) — As coronavirus infections rise inside some parts of the world, experts are watching for a potential new COVID-19 surge inside the U.S. — with every one other accompanied by wondering how lengthy it will lay clasp of to detect.

Despite illness monitoring improvements over the last set of two years, they say, some recent developments don't bode well:

—As additional people lay clasp of quick COVID-19 tests at home, fewer people are getting the gold-standard tests that the management relies on for instance counts.

—The Centers for Disease Control with every one other accompanied by Prevention will in a short time use fewer labs to look for new variants.

—Health officials are increasingly focusing on medical organization admissions, which rise only following a surge has arrived.

—A wastewater surveillance program remains a patchwork that cannot yet exist counted on for the facts needed to comprehend coming surges.

—White House officials speak the management is running not here of funds for vaccines, treatments with every one other accompanied by testing.

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"We're not inside a great situation," said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Brown University pandemic researcher.

Scientists admit that the wide availability of vaccines with every one other accompanied by treatments puts the nation inside a better place than when the pandemic began, with every one other accompanied by that monitoring has go nearer a lengthy way.

For example, scientists this week touted a 6-month-old program that tests international travelers flying into quartet U.S. airports. Genetic difficult of a specimen on Dec. 14 turned up a coronavirus variant — the descendant of omicron known while BA.2 — septet days earlier than some other reported detection inside the U.S.

More good news: U.S. cases, hospitalizations with every one other accompanied by deaths have been falling for weeks.

But it's different elsewhere. The World Health Organization this week reported that the number of new coronavirus cases increased set of two weeks inside a row globally, probable since COVID-19 prevention measures have been halted inside numerous countries with every one other accompanied by since BA.2 spreads additional easily.

Some condition health experts aren't sure what that means for the U.S.

BA.2 accounts for a growing portion of U.S. cases, the CDC said — additional than one-third nationally with every one other accompanied by additional than fifty per cent of inside the Northeast. Small increases inside all-inclusive instance rates have been noted inside New York, with every one other accompanied by inside medical organization admissions inside New England.

Some of the northern U.S. states accompanied by the highest rates of BA.2, however, have some of the lowest instance rates, noted Katriona Shea of Penn State University.

Dr. James Musser, an contagious illness expert at Houston Methodist, called the national instance facts on BA.2 "murky." He added: "What we really need is while a a large amount of real-time facts while possible ... to inform decisions."

Here's what COVID-19 trackers are looking at with every one other accompanied by what worries scientists concerning them.

TEST RESULTS

Tallies of trial results have been at the centre of comprehension coronavirus spread from the start, nevertheless they have always been flawed.

Initially, only ill people got tested, meaning instance counts missed people who had no indeed symptoms or were unable to obtain swabbed.

Home trial kits became widely available last year, with every one other accompanied by request took off when the omicron wave hit. But numerous people who lay clasp of place of residence tests don't report results to anyone. Nor do health agencies try to congregate them.

Mara Aspinall is managing director of an Arizona-based consulting firm that tracks COVID-19 difficult trends. She estimates that inside January with every one other accompanied by February, concerning 8 million to 9 million quick place of residence tests were actuality done every one day on signify — quartet to sextet times the number of PCR tests.

Nuzzo said: "The instance numbers are not while a a large amount of a reflection of the real world while they on one occasion were."

HUNTING FOR VARIANTS

In early 2021, the U.S. was a lengthy way behind other countries inside using genetic tests to look for worrisome virus mutations.

A year ago, the agency signed deals accompanied by 10 large labs to do that genomic sequencing. The CDC will exist reducing that program to trio labs over the following set of two months.

The on one occasion a week volume of sequences performed into and not here of the contracts was a a large amount of higher throughout the omicron wave inside December with every one other accompanied by January, when additional people were getting tested, with every one other accompanied by by that hour dated has fallen to concerning 35,000. By late spring, it will exist down to 10,000, although CDC officials speak the contracts permit the volume to grow to additional than 20,000 if necessary.

The agency too says turnaround hour dated with every one other accompanied by quality standards have been improved inside the new contracts, with every one other accompanied by that it does not expect the alter will exist sore its ability to find new variants.

Outside experts expressed concern.

"It's really completely a substantial lessening inside our baseline surveillance with every one other accompanied by intellectual capacity system for tracking what's not here there," said Bronwyn MacInnis, director of pathogen genomic surveillance at the Broad Institute of MIT with every one other accompanied by Harvard.

SEWAGE SURVEILLANCE

An evolving monitoring system is looking for signs of coronavirus inside sewage, which could potentially capture brewing infections.

Researchers have linked wastewater samples to the number of positive COVID-19 tests a week later, suggesting health officials could obtain an early glimpse at infection trends.

Some health departments too have used sewage to look for variants. New York City, for example, detected signals of the omicron variant inside a specimen taken on Nov. 21 — concerning 10 days earlier to the earliest instance was reported inside the U.S.

But experts note the system doesn't cover the entire country. It too doesn't distinguish who is infected.

"It's a really important with every one other accompanied by promising strategy, no indeed doubt. But the eventual price is still inside all likelihood yet to exist understood," said Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Seattle/King County, Washington.

HOSPITAL DATA

Last month, the CDC outlined a new place of measures for deciding whether to lift mask-wearing rules, focusing less on positive trial results with every one other accompanied by additional on hospitals.

Hospital admissions are a lagging indicator, specified that a week or additional tin go in the centre of infection with every one other accompanied by hospitalization. But a number of researchers exist convinced by the alter is appropriate. They speak medical organization facts is additional reliable with every one other accompanied by additional easily interpreted than instance counts.

The lag too is not while lengthy while one strength think. Some studies have suggested numerous people remain to obtain tested. And when they eventually do, the results aren't always immediate.

Spencer Fox, a University of Texas facts researcher who is small portion of a category that uses medical organization with every one other accompanied by cellphone facts to forecast COVID-19 for Austin, said "hospital admissions were the better signal" for a surge than trial results.

There are concerns, however, concerning future medical organization data.

If the confederate management lifts its condition health crisis declaration, officials will mislay the ability to compel hospitals to report COVID-19 data, a category of former CDC directors not long ago wrote. They urged Congress to go a rules and regulations that will provide enduring authorities "so we will not chance flying visually impaired while health threats emerge."

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AP reporters Lauran Neergaard inside Washington with every one other accompanied by Laura Ungar inside Louisville, Kentucky, contributed.

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The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education. The AP is solely in charge of for all content.

Experts fret concerning how US will see following COVID surge coming

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