'Hurricane is coming': Expert tells America to brace for contagious new COVID-19 strain

A top US epidemiologist has cautioned that a surge of coronavirus infections is likely to hit the US in the coming weeks as a result of the spread of the more contagious COVID-19 variant first discovered in the UK. 

Calling For Drastic Measures

Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and a member of President Biden's transition team, Michael Osterholm, told the NBC's "Meet the Press" that the US may have to adjust its vaccine strategy and focus on administering the first dose of the vaccine to as many people as possible instead of trying to give people their second dose.  

“We do have to call an audible. I think there’s no doubt about it. The fact is that the surge that is likely to occur with this new variant from England is going to happen in the next six to 14 weeks, and if we see that happen, which my 45 years in the trenches tells me we will, we are going to see something like we have not seen yet in this country,” Osterholm said on Sunday. 

Hurricane is Coming

Continuing, he said: “That hurricane is coming. So I think we have to understand that because of this surge, we do have to call audible".

He suggested that while it should still be the aim of the US to get two doses in everyone, the immediate focus should be on trying to get first doses in as many people over the age of 65 as possible in advance of the second surge to reduce the risk of possible illness and death. 

The U.K. variant, dubbed B.1.1.7, was first discovered in the U.S. in late December but is thought to have been around as early as October. It’s soon expected to become the dominant strain of the virus in the U.S.