"The world needs a reality check"

Similarly dismayed is Francis S. Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Last summer, he watched cases in the United States spike, particularly in the Sun Belt, after what he felt was a premature end to spring restrictions. This summer, he is not surprised by the rise in infections across a country where many people haven’t gotten their shots and have returned to pre-pandemic behavior.

“It’s like we’ve been to this movie several times in the last year and a half, and it doesn’t end well. Somehow, we’re running the tape again. It’s all predictable,” Collins said.

Coronavirus infections in the United States rose nearly 70 percent in a single week, officials reported Friday, and hospitalizations and deaths rose 36 percent and 26 percent, respectively. Almost every state has experienced a rise in cases. Florida, populous and not highly vaccinated, is seeing a surge in cases. In hot spots such as Arkansas and Missouri, covid wards are opening up again in hospitals…

This hints at how the pandemic may eventually play out: The virus would become endemic. It would not be eradicated — and would still cause occasional clusters of infection — but it would not ignite runaway outbreaks nor be nearly as lethal as when it emerged into the human population. That drop in lethality will be driven less by changes in the virus itself than by the changed immunological landscape.