Covid-19 Cases Are Dropping. What Comes Next?

The next phase of the pandemic hinges on vaccines, variants, and doubling down on protective measures

Craig Spencer MD MPH
Published in
6 min readFeb 25, 2021


Image: cromaconceptovisual/Pixabay

I’ve treated hundreds of Covid patients in my emergency room. I saw many say goodbye to their family over grainy FaceTime videos. I’m as eager as anyone to see the end of this pandemic. Thankfully, that may be in sight.

Covid cases and hospitalizations are dropping. Vaccines are getting into arms. So, what happens next?

Some experts are warning of a fierce fourth wave driven by viral variants. Others believe the worst is behind us and Covid will fade in the coming months.

The truth is: The next phase depends on a balance of vaccines, variants, and continued adherence to protective public health measures.


The Covid-19 vaccines are miracles of modern science. We’re already seeing their dramatic impact on this pandemic.

The United Kingdom and Israel — two countries that have vaccinated a larger proportion of their population than the U.S. — have seen a drastic decline in hospitalizations after their vaccine rollouts.

Vaccination in the U.S. started much slower. When I got my first dose in December 2020, every day brought more new cases of Covid than people vaccinated against it. Two months later, that has changed dramatically.

We now administer 1.5 million doses per day, vaccinating more Americans in eight hours than will be diagnosed with Covid in a week.

Despite our slow rollout we already see the benefit of targeting the most vulnerable populations at the outset. Nursing home residents were prioritized for vaccination since they account for 35% of Covid deaths in the U.S. Since vaccinations began in late December deaths in nursing homes have dropped precipitously, suggesting the vaccine is saving lives.

Source: KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation)

As the rollout picks up steam in the U.S., it’s increasingly obvious that vaccines are one of the most critical tools for slowing the pandemic…



Craig Spencer MD MPH

ER doctor | Ebola Survivor | Public Health Professor at Brown University | A Few Other Things