CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky cannot predict when the pandemic will end as it largely depends on human behavior – and that could be a problem.
As the Covid-19 pandemic extends into its 20th month, cases in the US have declined after a wave of delta infections peaked at more than 172,000 a day in mid-September. Some medical experts predict we could be in the last big surge in the virus, but when it will end is unclear.
“We have a lot of science at the moment; we have vaccines, ”Walensky told reporters Thursday at a meeting organized by the Health Coverage Fellowship, a health journalism program. “What we can’t really predict is human behavior. And human behavior in this pandemic has not served us very well. “
We fight with each other and not with the common enemy that is the virus itself.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky
With only about 55% of the US population fully vaccinated and with some extra protection in those recently infected, there isn’t enough immunity to fend off the more contagious Delta variant, the infectious disease expert warned.
“With the Delta variant, the R-Null is 8 or 9,” said Walensky. R-naught, or Basic Reproductive Number, is the average number of people to whom an infected person will transmit the virus. “That means that we need a lot of protection in the community in order not to have diseases.”
And the problem, she continued, is that some communities have high vaccination rates and are very well protected, but “there are places with very little protection”.
“And the virus is not stupid – it will go there,” said Walensky. “So your question really depends on how well we grow together as humanity and community to do the things we need to do in these communities to protect ourselves.”
But so far, “we are fighting with each other and not with the common enemy, which is the virus itself,” said Walensky.