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'Hurricane Is Coming': Top US Epidemiologist Says Brace For More Virulent COVID-19 Strain

This is ‘jump off’, Osterholm warned, adding that over the next six to 14 weeks, the darkest days of the pandemic are going to occur due to virulent strains.

expert warns

A top infectious disease expert in the US on January 31 warned about the deadlier UK mutant of the coronavirus, saying that it could become the ‘dominant’ covid strain in the US in weeks ahead. ‘It could hit the country like a hurricane,’ epidemiologist Michael Osterholm from Joe Biden’s transition coronavirus advisory board told NBC in a televised interview. Furthermore, the director of the center for infectious disease research and policy at the University of Minnesota, warned that the US must brace for the more virulent coronavirus this spring. Osterholm’s warnings come as the US detected the more contagious variant of Brazil in at least two cities. Minnesota health officials confirmed five cases of the more virulent virus in specimens from residents in four Minnesota counties, according to an AP report. 

As the US covid-related death toll shot past the grim milestone of 440,000, the highest total fatalities recorded in the world, and infections surpassed alarming 26 million, Osterholm told NBC’s “Meet the Press”, ‘We need to understand what's coming’. As he warned about more transmissible COVID-19 strains, Biden’s transition covid advisory expert said that part of the situation right now in the US is what he called ‘a shifting baseline’, citing that April recorded 32,000 cases, which eventually dropped to 22,000 then hitting 70,000 by July 2020. This is the ‘jump off’, Osterholm warned, adding that over the next six to 14 weeks, the darkest days of the pandemic are going to occur due to the spread of the virulent strains that are more transmission, cause more serious illness, as well as evade immune protection of vaccines. Furthermore, the disease expert sounded concerned, saying that despite total lockdown such as in England, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, authorities are still seeing transmission increasing in some locations. 

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“Our state's residents need to understand what's coming. And it is going to come. I just worry that we'll be surprised again and we're going to need to put restrictions or our hospitals virtually overrun,” Osterholm said in a live-streamed interview. “The hurricane is coming, we have to call an audible,” the top epidemiologist added.

Serious illness and death warnings

Emphasizing the need to ramp up the mass vaccination drive, Osterholm said that it was necessary to get two doses of shot administered to the population and get as many one-doses in as many people over 65 as the administration possibly can. “Serious illness and death that is going to occur over the weeks ahead,” Osterholm said in a televised address. Osterholm further indicated, that the more virulent coronavirus will be a ‘disaster’ in terms of a new and rapid surge of cases and will go out of control. “If we see that happen, we’re going to see something like we have not yet seen in this county. I see that hurricane Category 5, 450 miles offshore,” Osterholm told NBC TV's live-streamed interview. 

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