A top epidemiologist is warning that a new surge of coronavirus driven by the emergence of variants is set to slam the U.S.
The U.S. has reported an average of 65,000 new cases in the last seven days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of about 10,000 cases per day from the week before. As vaccinations are ramping up and states are easing restrictions, cases are rising in several states, including New York, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, on Thursday said a new surge driven by the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom is inevitable.
“This B.1.1.7 surge is going to happen. It’s not an issue of ‘if.’ It’s going to happen,” Osterholm told CNN’s New Day.
“We are just beginning this surge and denying it is not going to help us. We are walking into the mouth of this virus monster as if somehow we don’t know it’s here, and it is here. Now is the time to do all the things that we must do to slow down transmission, not open up, and we’ve got to get more vaccine out to more people,” he said.
Coronavirus cases in the US “are just beginning to surge and denying it is not going to help us,” says epidemiologist Michael Osterholm. “This vaccine level that we have is not going to be nearly enough to stop the surge.”https://t.co/bRTrOP2N94 pic.twitter.com/o4QU2VXAoC
— New Day (@NewDay) April 1, 2021
Osterholm emphasized that progress made through the vaccination effort in the U.S. has not kept pace with the new spike in cases observed in many states. He said while Michigan is above average in terms of their vaccine program, the state is headed in the wrong way in terms of cases.
“If we had another three months to get people vaccinated it would be another story, but we don’t,” he said.
Osterholm also pushed the idea of administering as many first doses of the vaccine as possible rather than prioritizing two doses weeks apart for each person to stop the surge. He said there would be a very low likelihood of new variants emerging due to a single-dose approach, as just one dose of the two-dose vaccines has shown to be 80 percent effective in protecting against the illness.
The expert noted that there are still 15 million people in the U.S. 65 years of age and older who have yet to receive even one dose of a vaccine. He predicted the southern sunbelt states will see a surge in the next six weeks.
According to the CDC, nearly 17 percent of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated, with 30 percent receiving at least one dose of a two-dose regimen.
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