Americans may be living with the coronavirus pandemic “well into 2021,” experts told Bloomberg News on Friday, citing the lack of a vaccine and the surge of the virus in many states.
“People are fatigued. They mistakenly feel that things were going away,” Cameron Wolfe, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University, told the publication.
The result: Cases have surged this month in at least 22 states around the country — including Florida, where new cases hit a record single-day high of 2,700 last week.
Scripps Research Translational Institute Director Eric Topol said the worldwide death toll related to the coronavirus could more than double from its present-day total of 460,000. “We’ll go well over a million,” Topol said. “I wouldn’t be surprised by 2022 if we go into a couple million or more, knowing that there are so many people out there who are vulnerable.”
The real surge could come in the autumn months, said Boston University Professor Davidson Hamer. “The real worrisome time will be this fall, when we are reopening universities and returning to work, with more people inside and cooler temperatures. It’s the perfect storm for a resurgence of disease,” Hamer said.
World Health Organization chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said Thursday that the WHO is hoping for 2 billion doses of a viable coronavirus by the end of 2021, but that it would be reserved for “priority populations.” She added, “It’s a big ‘if’ because we don’t have any vaccine that’s proven.”
The federal government last month also launched an effort to develop a vaccine, titled, “Operation Warp Speed.” Dr. Anthony Fauci — the public face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force — criticized the name, saying in an interview that it could imply things were moving so quickly “that you’re skipping over important steps and are not paying enough attention to safety.”
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday the pharmaceutical company is searching for 30,000 volunteers to participate in a third-phase trial of its coronavirus vaccine beginning in July and hopes to have a vaccine available to the public by 2021. “We do not know where exactly outbreaks will happen in the fall,” Bancel said, adding that with volunteers taking the trial drug, “Wherever outbreaks happen, we’ll be able to see cases.”
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