Osterholm: ‘We Have to Be Prepared’ for Next COVID Variant — Likely ‘Worse’ than Delta

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy director and former Biden’s transition team adviser Dr. Michael Osterholm said Wednesday on CNN’s “The Lead” that the coronavirus pandemic could get a “worse” variant after the current Delta wave.

Guest-host Pamela Brown said, “We started this conversation, talking about just how quickly this pandemic changes and why messaging has to change so quickly. That is largely because new variants can come about. Today Dr. Fauci said a variant worse than Delta could be coming. You warned the next variant could be, quote, ‘Delta on steroids.’ What do you mean by that?”

Osterholm said, “Well, basically the variants that we’re concerned about in terms of their increased risk to humans have one of three characteristics or all three. One is they’re more infectious, which we know Delta is substantially more infectious even than Alpha which that by itself was more infectious. Number two that they can cause more severe illness just related to the question you just asked about does it cause more severe illness for the number of people who are infected? And number three, does it have a way of evading immune protection? Does it somehow get around the vaccines or get around the protection you get from natural infection? And any one of those three characteristics could make another variant worse.”

He added, “If you add all of them together, it could be worse. We don’t have any evidence right now. We have one that’s worse. But I agree with Dr. Fauci that it surely is possible that one that could be more infectious than Delta, which would be hard to imagine that being the case, could actually happen, and we have to be prepared for that.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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