Infectious diseases expert Michael Osterholm is warning Americans not to let down their guard even as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop.
“Let me just say we are in the eye of the hurricane right now,” Osterholm said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “It appears that things are going very well. We even see blue skies.”
But, Osterholm said the more infectious B.1.1.7. variant from the U.K. is surging beneath the surface. Responsible for just 1 to 4 percent of U.S. cases a month ago, the variant has now grown to 30 to 40 percent of cases.
“And we’ve seen in Europe when we hit that 50 percent mark, you’ll see cases surge,” Osterholm, who is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said.
Osterholm also said the new variant was even spreading among younger populations ― just as schools in many areas are reopening ― and referenced an outbreak in high school sports in his home state of Minnesota last week.
“We’re going to have some tough days ahead in the older population and in the younger population with this new variant virus,” he said.
Osterholm lauded the pace of the country’s vaccination effort, but warned that the numbers so far and the vaccine supply expected in the coming weeks were “not going to really take care of the problem at all.”
“We still have a lot of high-risk people out there,” he said. “When this surge comes, they’re going to be highly vulnerable.”
See the full discussion in the clip above.
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