Coronavirus infections could double over the next month as the virus continues to spread across the United States, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch predicted during an online discussion Friday.
The US recorded more than 121,000 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. Cases have also surpassed 100,000 on Friday.
"I think if caseloads double in the next month, I will not be at all surprised. If it goes more than that I would be somewhat surprised but not completely shocked," Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said during a chat with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But Lipsitch said he doesn’t like to make predictions because he still believes coronavirus mitigation efforts can work to bring down transmission rates.
"It's not that I don't want to make them, it's that making projections gives the impression that it's not in our hands, that it’s some kind of hurricane where we can stand there, but we can’t do anything about it," he said.
The number of daily cases and how much the virus continues spreading "depends on our responses," Lipsitch added.
At the current pace, the spread will "grow exponentially," he said, because we're "not very close to herd immunity" in most places. In some places, he added, the spread could be slowed somewhat increased immunity.
Lipsitch also said people should expect lockdowns again, and stay-at-home orders, if intensive care units are overloaded.
"I think it really depends on how much capacity has been built up over the time that we've had to prepare, thanks to the intense control measures that were put in place early on in some places, and how much places continue to get overwhelmed," Lipsitch said.