MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A top disease expert out of the University of Minnesota says we are only at the beginning of fighting COVID-19.
“We have to stop preparing for this like it’s a sprint and we have to start preparing for it like it’s a marathon,” Dr. Michael Osterholm, the U of M Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said.
Dr. Osterholm said people should expect at least 16-18 months of trying to stop the spread of the virus.
He says previous pandemics of similar viruses lasted two to three years. Dr. Osterholm estimates only about 5% or even less of Minnesotans have been infected with COVID-19.
“For us to achieve herd immunity it’s going to take at least 60-70% percent of the people to become infected with COVID-19.”
Dr. Osterholm says getting rid of social distancing and exposing people to the virus all at once to achieve herd immunity more quickly would cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and the health care system would be overrun.
Dr. Osterholm says the key to reopening the economy could be figuring out who is at less risk for severe complications from the virus and permitting them to go back into society.
“[People] who are younger or otherwise healthy, and I don’t for a moment suggest those people will not be at some risk of getting a serious illness or dying, but the risk will be much much lower,” Dr. Osterholm said.
Dr. Osterholm says he is hoping that there will be a vaccine well before 60-70% of the community would be infected by COVID-19.