(NewsNation) — Infections, hospitalizations and deaths are way down as the world enters Year Three of the coronavirus pandemic.
There is renewed hope that we are past the worst of times, but signs from overseas indicate it is definitely not over yet.
“The Europeans are having another wave. East Asia, they’re having another wave. The United States is not immune from these forces,” University of California epidemiologist Irvine Andrew Noymer said.
Noymer said another COVID-19 wave is inevitable.
“We’re in a trough right now. I am worried about the next peak,” he said. “But while we’re in this trough, people can take a break from masking.”
Arming up for the next wave will likely mean the recommendation of a second booster shot soon and an eventual return to protective measures.
“I’ve still got my mask, I’m ready,” said Springfield, Missouri, resident Karen Duncan. “And would get another shot. I do what my doctor tells me.”
The new variant behind the waves in Asia and Europe is known as BA.2.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates it now accounts for nearly a quarter of the cases in the U.S.
BA.2 is a combination of mutations between omicron and delta, which some have dubbed “deltacron.”
“If you take the worst aspects of delta, which was a more serious illness, and you combine it with the worst aspects of omicron, really transmissible, then you’ve got something that sounds pretty scary,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, professor of infectious diseases at the University of California, Berkeley.
While it’s unclear whether deltacron will be as devastating, experts are certain COVID-19 will be here long term, just like influenza.
“It hasn’t settled into regular cycles yet, so we don’t have these nice seasonal cycles, we have waves,” Noymer said. “Another wave is inevitable.”
And the beginning of that wave could be forming now as BA.2. accounts for nearly 40% of new cases in New York and New Jersey.
But the CDC has not officially deemed it as a variant of concern.