723 epidemiologists on how the pandemic will end in the US

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The end of the COVID-19 pandemic hinges on a number of factors, including the nation's overall vaccination rate and the timeline for vaccinating younger children, according to a new survey of 723 epidemiologists by The New York Times.

The survey was conducted April 28 to May 10, before the CDC announced May 13 that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks in most settings. Applied and academic epidemiologists participated, although not all participants answered every question.

Seven survey findings, as reported by the Times May 15:

1. Most respondents (90 percent) said it was very or somewhat likely that Americans would be able to safely gather indoors for winter holidays.

2. Eighty-six percent of respondents said it was very or somewhat likely that schools would be able to fully reopen in the fall.

3. Eighty-five percent of respondents said it was very or somewhat likely that Americans would be able to safely gather outdoors July 4.

4. Still, half of the survey respondents said it won't be safe to do most activities without precautions until at least 80 percent of Americans, including children, are vaccinated, according to the Times. The CDC has recommended Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 12. However, children younger than 12 are not yet being vaccinated.

5. Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents said vaccination rates were the most relevant COVID-19 metric in helping determine when Americans could resume most pre-pandemic activities without precautions. They rated it above new cases per day, hospitalizations and deaths per day. According to the Times, this is because more vaccinations would lower the other rates.

6. Thirty-eight percent of survey respondents cited Americans' reluctance related to vaccines as what they most fear could stall ending the public health crisis. Next were new variants (24 percent) and the politicization of public health (22 percent).

7. When asked to guess what the state of COVID-19 might be like in the U.S. in 2026, 87 percent of survey respondents said low-level spread, similar to the flu.

Read the full Times article here

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