Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm said he is concerned about the spread of Covid-19 variants, especially as states ease restrictions.
“Expect in the next two to three weeks we're going to see a number of areas in this country, I think, that will follow exactly what we've seen in Europe and the Middle East. We're going to see a surge in cases. And everything that the governors are doing right now to relax all the public health recommendations that we've made are only going to be a major invitation of this virus to spread faster and farther,” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.
Texas and Mississippi governors announced they are lifting mask mandates and fully opening businesses, a move that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci called "inexplicable."
While it is very positive that vaccinations continue at a steady pace, “we are denying the gravity of the situation before us,” particularly concerning the more-transmissible variant first identified in the United Kingdom, Osterholm said on CNN’s “New Day.”
Osterholm said that the number of people currently vaccinated and those previously infected who have immunity add up to about 35 to 40% of the population protected.
“For the whole last year — for all the pain, suffering and death and illness — we still are only at about 40%. … So add that together with the following: more infectious, more severe illness, and we're loosening up everything. You put those two together and I think the question is, what is going to happen? None of us can say with certainty other than to say it's not going to be good,” he said.