Michael Osterholm, a coronavirus adviser to President-elect Joe Biden and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on CNN’s New Day Tuesday, that he worries that in the coming weeks, the coronavirus pandemic will turn into something unlike anything seen before, and most people don’t realize that yet.
“We’re going to suddenly see these variants come to play that based on the experience we’ve seen in Europe, in particular, South Africa, these variants can substantially increase the number of cases,” Osterholm said.
“I worry desperately in the next six to 12 weeks we’re going to see a situation with this pandemic unlike anything we’ve seen yet to date,” Osterholm said. “And that is really a challenge that I don’t think most people realize yet.”
When asked by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota if there was anything that the Biden administration could do to prevent this, Osterholm said the first step is “to get people to understand: This will happen, we are going to see a major increase in cases, the challenge is how many.”
Secondly, he said “we can’t make the vaccine go much faster than it is right now,” adding that while he knows the Biden administration will do everything it can to move vaccine out, other actions are needed now.
“The difference is going to be, are we going to react now or later,” Osterholm said. Like other places, he said that the US will take “dramatic steps” to deal with the variants, but “the question is how soon will we do it? Do we put the brakes on after the cars wrapped around the tree, or we try to put the brakes on before we leave the intersection?”
“That’s the challenge,” he said. “I just don’t know if we’re really prepared to even have that discussion yet.”