Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm
's Poppy Harlow on Friday that "we're not done with this virus at all."
Osterholm, director of the University
's Center for Infectious Disease Research
and Policy, was skeptical of another national surge due to the scope of the United States
program, which has seen more than 175 million Americans receive at least one shot to date.
However, Osterholm believes that if the highly transmissible Delta variant
spreads to the United States, where it is now rapidly spreading, more localized surges could occur.
The variant first identified in India
has already established itself as the dominant strain of the virus in the United Kingdom
, where rising cases have forced the postponement of easing lockdown restrictions.
The Delta variant, according to Rochelle Walensky
, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
, will "probably" become the most dominant in America, and Osterholm agreed, citing its ability to evade immunity provided by a single dose of the vaccine
“We have over 100 counties in this country that have had less than 20% of their population vaccinated,” Osterholm said in a video shared online by Mediaite on Friday, “and we have states where we’re well below 40% with even a single dose of vaccine in people
“So we have a lot of vulnerable people out there who haven’t been vaccinated yet, and if this Delta variant takes over, we’re going to see significant local and regional surges,” he added.
“I think this is all the more reason why we need to know that we're not done with the virus yet,” Osterholm added. “We're certainly farther along in this country than other places, but we still need to get people vaccinated, and as you know, things have slowed dramatically in terms of new people getting vaccinated.”
Osterholm recalled similar concerns about the Alpha variant, which was discovered in the United Kingdom and then spread across Europe
in January and February, but a devastating surge in the United States never materialized.
“It did become the dominant variant, but we didn’t see a significant increase in cases,” Osterholm explained, “so I’ve obviously had a note of caution here with regard to the Delta variant, this new one we’re talking about.”
“Perhaps the same thing will happen, but maybe not,” he admitted, “and we have to be prepared in our business
for the possibility that it will happen, as it did in England