Chicago — Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm warns against Americans letting their guard down, especially as the U.K. coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 spreads among young people.
As the more infectious variant becomes increasingly present, cases will surge again. “And we’ve seen in Europe when we hit that 50% mark, you’ll see cases surge,” Osterholm said. Right now, the variant is responsible for 30 to 40% of cases.
With schools reopening in many areas, the new variant presents a bigger threat.
“We’re going to have some tough days ahead in the older population and in the younger population with this new variant virus,” said Osterholm, who is the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.
Osterholm referenced a 68-case surge linked to youth sports in Minnesota. Of those, 24 can be attributed to the U.K. variant.
Hospitalizations and deaths are dropping. And the more widespread arrival of vaccines is giving people hope.
“Let me just say we are in the eye of the hurricane right now,” Osterholm said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “It appears that things are going very well. We even see blue skies.”
He warned that the current numbers and the coming vaccines may not be enough to “take care of the problem at all.”