A leading epidemiologist in the US, Michael Osterholm, issued dire warnings on Sunday, January 31, about the potential spread of the new and more contagious Coronavirus variants. He said that the deadlier British variant of Coronavirus could become dominant in the US and may hit the country like a "hurricane".
The prediction came as the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US crossed the 26 million mark. As of Monday, February 1, the US has reported over 441,000 Coronavirus related deaths.
Osterholm, who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, warned the country to brace for the spread of the virulent variant this spring.
'Hurricane Is Coming'
Osterholm, who served on President Joe Biden's transition Coronavirus advisory board after his victory in the 2020 election, told NBC News on Sunday: "The surge that is likely to occur with new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to 14 weeks."
He urged the Biden-Harris administration to move faster with plans to vaccinate as many people as possible in the US, at least with their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. He said those who are above 65 must get the shot to avoid the worst outcome of the surge of new virus variants. "That hurricane is coming," he told NBC.
Last year Osterholm predicted the "darkest time" of the pandemic in the US. Since then, the country has lost thousands of lives and hospitals are under extreme pressure due to a massive number of COVID-19 cases.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a few weeks ago that the new variant, which was the first fount on British landâdubbed as B.1.1.7âmay be 30 percent more deadly than the original version of SARS-CoV-2. The problem is the variant has been found in several countries including the US.
Healthcare expert Osterholm indicated that if the American leaders fail to stay ahead of the variant, the outcome of the variant surge would be disastrous.
"If we see that happen...we're going to see something like we have not yet seen in this country...I see that hurricane Category 5, 450 miles offshore," he added.
In terms of vaccination, President Biden announced a goal to vaccinate 100 million people in the US in the first 100 days of his administration. But a recent report revealed how problematic the situation has become for the new administration.
Biden's team is currently trying to track down missing 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses which were distributed to the states in December 2020. The new administration has been facing challenges to keep the pandemic under control while simultaneously dealing with the COVID-19 vaccine shortage.