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The recent COVID-19 spike might be worse than we think

Do we know the real COVID-19 numbers?

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Face coverings are required at O’Hare airport in Chicago.

A sign stating face coverings are required is displayed at O’Hare airport in Chicago, Friday, July 2, 2021.

Nam Y. Huh, Associated Press

Coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout the country. But we might be further along in the recent spike than we think, signaling that the end of the pandemic might be in sight.

Are the COVID-19 numbers right?

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he thinks we’re further along in the pandemic than we think.

  • “We’re not doing a lot of testing. More of the testing that we are doing is antigen tests that are being done at home and not getting reported,” Gottlieb said. “So, I think we’re much further into this epidemic than we’re picking up and hopefully further through this epidemic.” 

What are the new projections for COVID-19 cases?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new model for COVID-19 case protections suggests we may see between 90,000 and 800,000 new COVID-19 cases in the next three weeks.

Of course, the model’s huge range of 90,000 to 800,000 cases is so big because we don’t have clear data, Gottlieb said.

  • “I believe that there is more virus than we’re picking up right now,” Gottlieb said. “There’s probably a lot of people with mild to subclinical infection since more of the infection is happening in a younger population that’s less likely to become very symptomatic.” 

U.S. vs. U.K. COVID-19 data

Gottlieb said the U.S. tends to be three to four weeks behind the United Kingdom when it comes to COVID-19 spread. So, using that model, the U.S. might be “hopefully we’re going to turn a corner” in the next week or so, he said.

  • “If you look at the U.K., they do in the last seven days appear to be turning a corner. You’re starting to see a downward trajectory on the cases. Now, it’s unclear whether that’s going to be sustained,” Gottlieb added.