Still, we do know that BA.2 is spreading rapidly, now making up the vast majority of U.S. Covid cases. Experts worry that could lead to a spike, as it has in other parts of the world.
Britain and other European countries, which have often been ahead of the U.S. in Covid waves, saw a recent surge in Covid cases, fueled by BA.2. But that increase is receding and did not lead to a sharp rise in deaths in Europe.
We do not know what that means for the U.S., which has sometimes seen bigger waves than parts of Europe — but not always. As has been true since the start of the pandemic, a lot of uncertainty surrounds Covid.
What we do know
For all of Covid’s unpredictability, we do know some things can help prevent or mitigate another big surge.
The first is vaccination. To the extent that built-up immunity is keeping another wave at bay, more vaccine-induced immunity can help. “The most serious consequences will, as ever, be mostly determined by how many people are vaccinated/boosted,” Hanage said in an email.
New treatments can help, too. Some are already available: The drug Evusheld can help prevent a Covid infection, particularly for immunocompromised people. And the antiviral medication Paxlovid helps treat infections. (Here’s a guide for where to get it.) More treatments are in the works, such as a drug called sabizabulin aimed at treating critically ill people.