What's driving Europe's uptick in COVID-19 cases: 5 notes

COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise in several European countries, which could signal a slight rise in cases this spring in the U.S. 

Five notes: 

1. Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands are among European countries beginning to see daily new cases increase, according to Our World in Data. Germany on March 2, for example, reported 1,570 new cases per million people. That figure was 2,340 on March 13. 

2. Experts say a number of factors are driving the uptick: "Why are many countries in Europe starting to ascend again? Relaxed mitigation measures, BA.2's higher transmission [and] waning immunity," Eric Topol, MD, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, tweeted March 13. "There's no clear or consistent pattern to determine which (or all) of these factors are driving it; no new variants have been implicated." 

3. In the U.S., cases continue to decline. The seven-day case average dipped below 40,000 March 9 to 37,147 — levels not seen since July 2021. Deaths and hospitalizations are also down. 

4. Scott Gottlieb, MD, in a March 12 tweet pointed to the same factors Dr. Topol did as reasons for the rise in cases some European countries are seeing. Referring to whether a surge will reach the U.S., Dr. Gottlieb told CNBC March 14, "We will probably see a bump up of infections as we lift mitigations, [and] as BA.2 starts to spread and become more prevalent … I don't think [there's] going to be another major surge of infection. I think you'll see an uptick before you start to see continued declines heading into the spring and the summer." 

5. BA.2, the omicron subvariant, accounted for an estimated 11.6 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases in the week ending March 5, according to the CDC. Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm, PhD, told Becker's March 2 there isn't any clear evidence the subvariant will cause another major surge. Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


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