Over the last few weeks, businesses have been slowly starting to reopen and restrictions eased in many parts of the country. However, the pandemic isn't over yet. During his podcast The Osterholm Update: COVID-19 on May 5, Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH. Dr. Osterholm is the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, issued a sober warning while talking with host Chris Dall. Read on to find out what he had to say—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.
The Virus Expert Warns the Virus "Is Not Done with Us"
"So looking at the global situation, we've talked a lot about India in recent weeks and the situation there remains catastrophic," Dall said to Osterholm, adding that South America is also "reeling" accounting for 35 percent of all the COVID-related deaths in the last week. "So how concerned should we be about the trajectory that we're seeing in those regions and what it means for the future of the pandemic?" he asked.
"This virus is telling us loud and clear. It is not done with us. It is not done with us. And while we surely are focused on what's happening in the United States, there is every reason to also be concerned about what's happening globally," Dr. Osterholm responded.
Global Deaths Are Still On the Rise
"This past week, the case numbers have basically been stable from the previous week at about 5.7 million new cases. We understand that the under-reporting particularly from countries like India are substantial. So we know those numbers are higher, but nonetheless, it still points out the burden of disease," he continued. "We're seeing that it is far in excess of what we've seen previously—global deaths continue their ascent with more than 93,500 reported last week. This is the seventh straight week of increasing deaths, less than 6,000 deaths short of the record high reported this week of January 25th."
Death Is a "Lagging Indicator"
He also pointed out that "death is a lagging indicator," and "so the cases that we're seeing now at these very high levels will be the deaths that we'll be talking about in two to four weeks." He also reiterated that the situation is still worsening, with a seven day daily case average of about 378,500 and seven day average of new deaths around 3,500, which "calls for a national lockdown." Even scarier? "As we have seen in the news media, it's very likely that these numbers are greatly under-reported, both the number of cases and deaths. Some experts are now saying that the daily COVID death toll could be five to 10 times higher than is being reported while India's prime minister is hesitant to impose a national lockdown due to the economic impacts," he added.
Vaccination Efforts Are Lagging Abroad
While the United States has made great strides in getting the country vaccinated, this isn't the case elsewhere. "Globally we have the opposite problem that we're seeing here in the United States," he said. "There are not enough vaccines to go around." And, even if they were available, he points out that not everyone will get them. "Even if it's available, we have the same challenges likely working there as we do here in the United States. So we need to understand there'll be real efforts needed to actually educate the public, to support programs for vaccination. And don't think it's just enough to send vaccine to a country and then assume that it's all going to be used in the way that it should be and could be."
The Virus Expert is Worried Joe Rogan's Comments Were Dangerous
Osterholm also addressed comments made by Joe Rogan, whose anti-vaccine comments recently put him under fire, asking him to walk back on his comments. "We appreciate you and your audience, and if we can help put the facts out there, we must because your audience is of the same people we want to protect like everyone else in this country," he said. "And I would not want one of your audience members to develop COVID-19 and die because of the fact that he or she believed that when they heard you say don't get vaccinated, that was not the reason why they didn't and subsequently became infected and had such a terrible, terrible outcome."
Keep Doing Your Part
So keep following Dr. Anthony Fauci's fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—wear a face mask that fits snugly and is double layered, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.