‘Covid-19 will be with us for a long time’ | Daily News


 

‘Covid-19 will be with us for a long time’

A high-profile infectious disease researcher warns COVID-19 is in the early stages of attacking the world, which makes it difficult to relax stay-at-home orders without putting most Americans at risk.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said the initial wave of outbreaks in cities such as New York City, where one in five people have been infected, represent a fraction of the illness and death yet to come.

“This damn virus is going to keep going until it infects everybody it possibly can,” Osterholm said Monday during a meeting with the USA TODAY Editorial Board.

“It surely won’t slow down until it hits 60 to 70%” of the population, the number that would create herd immunity and halt the spread of the virus.

Even if new cases begin to fade this summer, it might be an indicator that the new coronavirus is following a seasonal pattern similar to the flu

During the 1918 flu pandemic that sickened one-third of the world’s population, New York City and Chicago were hit hard in the first wave of illness that largely bypassed other cities such as Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis and Philadelphia. The second wave of illness was much more severe nationwide.

If COVID-19 retreats only to return in the fall, the number of cases could peak and overwhelm hospitals that must deal with cases of flu and respiratory viruses. Furthermore, Asian nations such as South Korea and Singapore, lauded for strict controls and rapid testing to avoid damage during the first wave, might be vulnerable to a second wave of infections, he said.

“It’s the big peak that’s really going to do us in,” he said. “As much pain, suffering, death and economic disruption we’ve had, there’s been 5 to 20% of the people infected, ... That’s a long ways to get to 60 to 70%.”

(USA TODAY)


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