U of M expert: ‘Complete lockdown’ possibly needed to combat second COVID strain

A new, extra dangerous strain of coronavirus can re-infect people and overcome the vaccine, warns Dr. Osterholm.

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“The darkest days of the pandemic are yet to come,” according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Osterholm issued this grave warning about the COVID-19 pandemic during a recent testimony he gave before the Minnesota House Health Finance and Policy Committee. He also predicted that “we are going to have another surge [of infections]” that may necessitate new safety measures.

However, this is not the first time he’s predicted that the “darkest” days are just around the corner.

Roughly three months ago, Osterholm claimed that America was about to enter “the darkest part of the pandemic,” according to PBS. It appears he’s now recycling this proclamation due to fears about a new strain of coronavirus.

“The UK strain is one that we’ve had great concern about,” he told Minnesota state legislators earlier this week. “It has created great havoc throughout Europe where in fact the only thing that basically brought it under control was that terrible word, but a complete lockdown.”

Osterholm added that under such lockdowns, some may develop “pandemic fatigue” and “pandemic anger,” which may cause them to neglect or forgo precautionary measures.

The doctor also explained that the new coronavirus strain may have the potential to defeat vaccines and re-infect individuals who have previously contracted and beat the illness.

Despite this, he still advocates distribution of the current vaccine — although he’d like to see delivery move to a “first dose only” approach. This means Osterholm would prefer that  state officials use all available supplies to vaccinate as many people as possible as a first priority, worrying about administration of the subsequent required dose as a secondary objective.

Despite his decades of study in the field of infectious diseases, Osterholm conceded that he’s largely baffled by COVID-19. “I think I know less about this virus than I did eight weeks ago,” he said. “We’re trying to understand what’s going on.”