Covid-19 could infect up to 70% of the US population before it slows down, infectious disease expert says

If the coronavirus pandemic was a nine-inning game, we’re only at the second inning, said Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Covid-19 will likely infect 60% to 70% of the US population before it slows down, Osterholm told CNN on Tuesday. He estimates that between 5% and 15% have been infected so far.

“All the things we’re doing to kind of control it will help, but it’s going to keep moving like that,” Osterholm said. “That’s what these viruses do.”

The country has “a long ways to go” to get to a level of herd immunity, he added.

Osterholm and his colleagues have offered three possible scenarios for the pandemic:

  1. Transmission will calm a bit in the summer and come back hard in the fall and winter.
  2. There will be ups and downs — waves of infections — in different places over different times.
  3. There will be a “slow burn” that lasts for 18 months or longer.

“Think how much pain, suffering, death and economic disruption we’ve had in getting from 5% to 15% of the population infected and hopefully protected,” Osterholm said. “Wake up, world. Do not believe the rhetoric that says this is going to go away.”

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