New variant increases potential for COVID-19 winter surge


Isabella Huth

Although the number of new COVID cases, deaths and hospitalizations have been decreasing since September, some scientists believe a winter wave is likely.

Isabella Huth, General Reporter

In the upcoming months, COVID-19 cases and deaths are expected to rise due to new variants emerging, waning population immunity and the increase in close contact that comes with decreasing temperatures.

According to, “Evidence is building that the Northern Hemisphere is on course for a surge of COVID-19 cases this autumn and winter,” Ewen Callaway said.

Even with the number of cases and deaths being on the decline the past few months, recent CDC data shows a sudden increase in both cases and deaths. The driving force of this increase in the last year has been due to the COVID-19 variant, SARS-CoV-2.  

“Unlike in the winter of 2020, most people have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 at some point either through infection or vaccination,” Katherine Irving reported in The Scientist. “However, the most recent booster shot, which was authorized for rollout in the US in early September, has not been as widely adopted as past vaccine doses.” 

As of Oct. 18, 84.4% of people 5 years and older in the U.S. are vaccinated against COVID with at least one dosage. 72.2% of people are fully vaccinated in the U.S., but only 50.5% of people 12 years and older have at least one booster. 

This could lead to more COVID-19 cases in the coming months, but it is also unknown whether a brand new variant of SARS-CoV-2 will drive this potential surge or if sub-variants of Omicron will remain. 

Regardless, Pfizer’s release of data resulting from their bivalent vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 shows progress in defense against the potential upcoming surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Pfizer’s multimedia press release on Oct. 12, reported that “Pre-clinical data showed a booster dose of the 30-µg BA.4/BA.5-adapted bivalent vaccine generated a strong neutralizing antibody response against the Omicron BA.1, BA.2, BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, as well as the original virus.”