Dr. Michael Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He was also a member of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board between Biden’s election as president and his inauguration.
Osterholm used to support the return of children to school. He said the virus was not a major threat to children. Now the situation has changed.
“Please understand, this version of B.1.1.7 is a brand new ball game,” Osterholm told NBC’s Meet the Press. “It infects children very easily. Unlike previous strains of the virus, we haven̵
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Option B.1.1.7 has been identified for the first time in the United Kingdom. It is now tearing parts of the country apart.
In Minnesota, Osterholm said more than 740 schools had reported cases of the option. In Michigan, more young people end up in hospitals struggling with more serious symptoms than before with children with COVID-19.
This is similar to what health officials have seen in other countries.
The British Medical Journal wrote two months ago that “new evidence from Israel and Italy (shows) that more young children are infected with new variants of COVID-19.”
Seeing this happen in his own backyard, Osterholm questioned his own previous advice.
“Wherever you look where you see this newcomer, you see that children play a huge role in transmitting it,” Osterholm said. “All the things we had planned for children in schools with this virus are really no longer applicable. We need to fully address this issue.”
Vaccinations are expected to help combat option B.1.1.7. However, Osterholm said that there was simply not enough time to rely on vaccinations alone.
“We will not have almost enough (doses of vaccines) in the next 6 to 8 weeks to overcome this jump and we will have to look for other ways to do it, like any other country in the world that has had a jump B.1.1.7 must do. “
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More young people are infected, hospitalized
The difference between previous jumps and another possible jump now is that “the most affected people are now the younger people,” emergency physician Dr. Leana Wen said on CNN on Sunday.
Older populations are prioritized nationwide for Covid-19 vaccinations. More than 54% of Americans aged 65 and over have been fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, while more than 75% of the same age group have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
But while this age group is now relatively well protected, Wen said, younger groups are still vulnerable as option B.1.1.7 circulates. The variant is more contagious and can cause more serious illness, experts say. Studies show that it can be more deadly.
“In places like Michigan, we see that the people who are now hospitalized in large numbers are people in their 30s and 40s,” Wen said. “And now we even see children becoming infected in greater numbers.”
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It’s not just Michigan.
“What we’re seeing are pockets of infection across the country, especially in younger people who haven’t been vaccinated, and also in school-age children,” said former food and medicine commissioner Dr. Scott. Gottlieb in front of CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“If you look at what’s going on in Michigan, Minnesota, Massachusetts, for example, you’ll see outbreaks in schools and infections in social cohorts that haven’t been exposed to the virus before.”
“The infection is changing its contours as to who is currently affected,” he added.
In Orange County, Florida, officials announced late last month an increase in Covid-19 cases in the 18-25 age group.
And one-third of all hospitalizations in Covid-19 County are under the age of 45, according to Dr. Raoul Pino, director of the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.
Last week, New Jersey officials said options, including strain B.1.1.7, were contributing to an increase in cases and hospitalizations – including in younger age groups.
Between the first and last week of March, there was a 31% and 48% increase in the number of hospitalizations between the age groups 20-29 and 40-49, respectively, State Health Commissioner Judy Persicili said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, older residents have noticed only a single-digit increase in the percentage, she added.
How can we limit the next influx of infections
Despite alarming warning signs, the United States is not powerless, experts said.
Doubling safety measures – camouflage, social distancing, crowd avoidance – combined with fast and effective vaccinations could help curb another influx of Covid-19, Dr Anthony Fauci said on Saturday.
“We say it again and again and we need the local people, we need the governors, the mayors and others to be able to say that we are not out yet,” Fauci said.
“People say, ‘Well, you just want to limit us forever.’ No, this will not last forever, because every day when you get vaccinated four million, three million people, you are getting closer to control. “
Hotez calculated on Sunday that “Americans must endure” another four to six weeks and then we will be on the other side. “
“All vaccines seem to work just as well against this option in the UK, B.1.1.7 … so that’s really good news,” he said. “I am very confident that we will be in a really good place by the summer.”
“But if you haven’t been vaccinated, you have to act like you’re very vulnerable to this virus, it’s not time to get sick,” Hotez added.
The-CNN-Wire & 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., WarnerMedia, contributed to this report.
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