The approach to preventing Covid-19 at the Tokyo Olympics is a dangerous one, and recommendations for protecting the athletes should be reviewed, according to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
The first problem, Osterholm said on CNN’s New Day today, is that the vaccines aren’t available for many of the participants, or they aren’t being used. This is a particular problem for people younger than 18 — vaccines aren’t approved for that age group in many countries, although there are athletes in that age group.
“We’ve got to address the vaccine issue immediately,” he said.
Second, he said that there has been very little planning for how to address aerosol spread of Covid-19.
“There's virtually been no planning for how are we going to move people in buses, or putting three people to a hotel room, or where do they eat and what kind of respiratory protection do they have. In fact they noted each country should bring their own face masks,” he said.
Osterholm — who along with other public health experts wrote a piece on the Tokyo Olympics in the New England Journal of Medicine Tuesday — said that they are calling for an emergency review of all the recommendations that have been made and how to handle the games as safely as possible.
“I’d give them a chance right now. I think that we all want the good news with the Olympics, I think no one at this point wouldn't want to have that torch lit and to see us come back together,” Osterholm said when asked if he would cancel the games.
“But I think that the approach they're taking right now is virtually a dangerous one if they don't change many of the recommendations they have and for how they're going to protect athletes and their support team members. I think this is a real challenge," he added.