Hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 continue to decline, leading to some optimism about the way forward from pandemic to endemic. But experts still urge caution as the omicron subvariant, named BA.2, has quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S.
"When you look around the nation, all of the metrics, with the exception of BA.2, have fallen precipitously," explains Dr. Gregory Poland, head of Mayo Clinic's Vaccine Research Group. "But we need to be very cautious about pretending that the pandemic is over."
Dr. Poland explains that each time there has been a waning number of COVID-19 infections, people have let down their guard and relaxed precautions, which has led to another surge. Dr. Poland still recommends masking in crowded indoor settings and urges people to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 to reduce the chance of infection.
"We're just coming down into a quiet period," says Dr. Poland. "But every time we've seen this set of markers in the past, we've had a new variant that's caused a surge. The question is, will it be BA.2, one of the newer variants that have been identified, or something completely unexpected? We just don't know."
On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Poland discusses the latest COVID-19 news including potential changes to booster recommendations, data on vaccine protection for pregnant women and the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5.
For the safety of its patients, staff and visitors, Mayo Clinic has strict masking policies in place. Anyone shown without a mask was recorded prior to COVID-19 or recorded in an area not designated for patient care, where social distancing and other safety protocols were followed.
Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding, along with guidelines and recommendations, may have changed since the original publication date.
Research disclosures for Dr. Gregory Poland.