A top disease expert is warning of 'another 12 to 14 months of a really hard road ahead of us'

US has no national plan to stop it



Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday that there could be a spike in coronavirus cases this fall and that the US has "another 12 to 14 months of a really hard road ahead."

Osterholm said that while a COVID-19 vaccine could become available, it wouldn't have a "meaningful" impact until 2021 at the earliest.

Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, said Americans should expect to "hunker down" in the fall and winter.

"What is our national plan?" Osterholm said. "We don't have one."

Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, on Sunday warned of a spike in COVID-19 cases and a bleak future in the US, citing a lack of a national plan to prevent the further spread of the virus.

Chuck Todd, the host of NBC News' "Meet the Press," had asked Osterholm about Dr. Anthony Fauci's recent comment that people in the US should expect to "hunker down" this fall and winter.

"It's not going to be easy," Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said last week during a panel discussion with Harvard Medical School. "We know every time we lift restrictions we get a blip. It's whack-a-mole.

"I do think we will likely get a vaccine by the end of the year, beginning of 2021," Fauci continued. "And I think that's going to be the thing that turns it around. I just think we need to hunker down."


Osterholm said he and Fauci were "on the same page," pointing to the roughly 40,000 new coronavirus cases reported each day in the US. As of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, there had been more than 6.4 million cases and more than 190,000 deaths in the US.

"We will, with the colleges and universities opening, with the spillover that's occurring, with people experiencing even more pandemic fatigue, wanting to be in indoor air spaces with other people as we get into the fall, we're going to see these numbers grow substantially," Osterholm said.

Osterholm said that while a vaccine might become available, it won't necessarily be "meaningful" until the beginning of next year. The Kaiser Family Foundation said that in its recent poll of US adults, 62% said they were worried that "political pressure from the Trump administration" could push the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine "without making sure that it is safe and effective."

"And then it's still going to take us months to vaccinate the population of just this country," Osterholm said.

"We really have another 12 to 14 months of a really hard road ahead of us," Osterholm continued. "And that's what I'm concerned about today. I don't go back and replay February and March. I play right now."

Last week, several news outlets reported that President Donald Trump told the journalist Bob Woodward in February that he knew the novel coronavirus was deadlier than the worst flu viruses, though he continued to downplay the risks of the virus.

"What is our national plan? We don't have one," Osterholm said. "We have 50 state plans that in many cases are so different, so divided, and not based necessarily on good science. So yeah, we've got a long road ahead."

Business Insider — Connor Perrett contributed to this report.

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