According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease specialist, by mid-February most states are likely to peak in omicron cases.
As Martha Raddatz reported on ABC's "This Week," Fauci said it was dangerous to be overconfident when dealing with COVID-19.
Things are looking good right now, according to him. He cautioned against getting too confident, but added that they appear to be heading in the right direction.
Fauci said that some cases have already peaked and declined "rather rapidly" in some northeastern and upper midwest states, but that cases are still rising in southern and western states.
In areas of the country that have not been fully vaccinated or have not gotten booster vaccines, there may be more pain and suffering with hospitalizations, he warned.
Raddatz asked Fauci what his "long-term strategy" for dealing with future peaks and variations will be. Fauci said his hope is that the level of infection will be below what he refers to as an "area of control."
As a result, "control" does not mean eliminating it, or eradicating it, but rather that it becomes a part of the more general respiratory infection that we are accustomed to.
As Fauci sees it, future variants should not "disrupt society" or "create an anxiety about severe outcomes" but, at the same time, prepare for the worst scenario.
The Biden administration has begun providing free COVID-19 tests and masks to Americans, and Fauci told Raddatz these kinds of protections could prevent future variants as well.
Raddatz pressed, noting that Americans received their booster five months ago. She wondered when we would get another one.
Having yet to determine exactly how much protection the first booster shot provides, Fauci responded that he wasn't sure whether another booster shot would be recommended. The third shot boost, he said, "might give greater durability to the protection." That would be great if true, he added.
Fauci said that we may need to boost again, but before making that decision, we should determine how durable the current boost is.
A new report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association found that nearly 1 million children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, and 28.8 million eligible children remain unvaccinated.
In response to Raddatz's question of whether it's "safe to send your kids back to school without masks," Fauci responded that mitigation efforts are important as well.
While UC Berkeley infectious disease expert Dr. John Swartzberg said Fauci's predictions are both "reasonable" and "informed", he added that it has been challenging to predict the virus in the past and may prove to be difficult going forward.
A potential concern, according to Swartzberg, is the development of another variant.
According to Swartzberg, the odds are stacked against us if it is a variant exceeding delta or omicron, able to evade the immunity we get from prior infections or vaccinations.
Swartzberg says that is a worst case scenario and he remains hopeful.
Swartzberg said if there is no other variant that is very problematic, then by summer we could be able to say we're living with this and we can be very relaxed.