A well-renowned infectious disease expert from the University of Minnesota has warned that the novel Coronavirus disease can potentially spread to 70% of the population without an effective vaccine before it reaches global herd immunity.
Infectious disease researcher Dr. Michael Osterholm who is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota has warned that the Covid-19 outbreak is only in the early stages of attacking the planet. Dr. Osteholm said the initial wave in cities such as New York was just 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. It surely won’t slow down until it hits 60 to 70% of the population.”Infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm to USA TODAY
In such a scenario, the peak number of cases will overwhelm doctors. Seasonal changes will exasperate the problem as cases of other respiratory viruses like the common flu surge. The warning even puts Asian nations successful in curbing outbreaks like South Korea, Singapore, and China at risk of massive second waves that would catch the health infrastructure unprepared.
Potential to infect 60-70 percent of the human population
Dr. Osterholm said the virus’ big peak will really “do us in”. He continued, “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 way to get to 60 to 70%.”
A key difference between the Covid-19 virus infection and the common flu is the incubation period where the novel coronavirus takes 5 days in comparison to 2 days. This longer incubation period clubbed with the higher transmission rate makes curbing Covid-19 a virtually impossible task without a vaccine.
The USA has 80,000 fatalities and over 1.3 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases as per the John Hopkins University tracker. Cases globally have caused 4 million. However, compared to the potential number of 532 million cases (70% of the world population), experts stay we are still very early in the calamity.
The only effective way to stop Covid-19 from reaching the massive destruction is a vaccine is developed before “a large enough segment of the population becomes infected” and develops some level of global herd immunity.
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America is raring to open again but experts are dreading the impact it might have on the spread of infection. While political and business leaders strategize ways to revive the American economy, unemployment has crossed 15%. Dr. Osterholm also suggested that there hasn’t been a “frank assessment on the economic harm the virus will cause”.