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US warned to get ready as Europe deals with new COVID-19 rise 

BY JOSEPH CHOI - 10/17/22 3:47 PM ET

Rising COVID-19 cases in Europe are setting off warnings that the U.S. could experience a new surge this winter. Previous jumps in the U.S. have followed a pattern in which cases first rise in Europe, making officials nervous they could see a spike in U.S. cases as the weather turns. The most recent data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows that cases began going up around the beginning of September in Europe. The seven-day average is roughly 230,000 cases per day, reflecting rates that were seen in late July when Europe was still dealing with the omicron BA.4/BA.5 subvariant wave. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated last week that a rise in cases in Europe was expected due to cooling temperatures, but stressed that hospitalizations and deaths did not have to rise as well due to the viral therapeutics that are now available. 

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Confirmed coronavirus-related deaths across the European Union have remained low, with a seven-day average of 280 as of last week.

In the U.S., cases and deaths have continued to trend down, but dropping temperatures that push people indoors, dismal booster vaccination numbers and an overall disregard for pandemic mitigation practices are setting the stage for a winter wave resembling the one across the Atlantic.

The seven-day moving average for cases in the U.S. is around 38,000, while the seven-day moving average for deaths is about 330. Ali Mokdad, epidemiologist and professor of Health Metrics Sciences at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, told The Hill the contrast in the regions can be attributed to multiple factors, including warmer temperatures in the U.S. and differing levels of community immunity.

“In the U.S., we have a higher infection rate than many European countries, where more people have been infected here. So we have a little bit more immunity than they do, but still we have waning immunity,” Mokdad said. 

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“President Biden said the pandemic is over, but that’s a mistake for me at a time when we’re trying to push a booster for a new vaccine designed for BA.4 and BA.5 and he goes and says it’s over.So why would people go and get the vaccine?” Mokdad said. “It’s very hard for me to say COVID-19 is over. It’s not over, especially right now coming into winter.”