“I think it’s hard to process what’s actually happening right now,” said Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, “which is most people are going to get covid.”
Woodcock pitched this as being a necessary acknowledgment when it comes to charting the path forward — recognizing that the focus now needs to be on averting the worst that widespread infections could bring in the near term.
“What we need to do is make sure the hospitals can still function, transportation, you know, other essential services are not disrupted while this happens,” she said. “I think after that will be a good time to reassess how we’re approaching this pandemic.”
Woodcock’s projection might not be terribly surprising, given the number of daily positive tests rising to record levels. On Monday, the seven-day average reached more than 760,000, meaning about 1 in every 60 Americans has tested positive in the last week alone. (And that’s probably a significant undercount, given the mildness of many omicron cases and the availability of at-home tests.) A study released about four months ago — before the rise of the unprecedentedly infectious omicron variant — estimated that 31 percent of the U.S. population had already been infected even by that point.
Woodcock’s comment also came shortly after a World Health Organization official warned the same day that Europe could see more than 50 percent of its population infected over the next six to eight weeks.