Some virus experts have blasted a ‘fear-mongering’ article warning of a ‘doomsday’ COVID-19 variant worse than Delta.
The doctors emphasized the effectiveness of the jab against the virus and noted that vaccine makers can quickly adjust formulas to make vaccines more effective against variants, Fox News reported.
Their comments come in response to an article in Newsweek Magazine which claimed that the Delta variant has ‘shattered’ optimism that vaccines would help the pandemic wind down.
The Newsweek Magazine article questioned: ‘Is there a Doomsday variant out there that shrugs off vaccines, spreads like wildfire and leaves more of its victims much sicker than anything we’ve yet seen?’
‘The odds are not high that we will see such a triple threat, but experts can’t rule it out,’ the article reads.
Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist, warned ‘the next variant could be Delta on steroids’
An article in Newsweek Magazine claimed that the Delta variant has ‘shattered’ optimism that vaccines would help the pandemic wind down, while warning of a possible ‘doomsday variant’
The Newsweek Magazine article appears to draw a number of conclusions, including that the pandemic will continue to get worse and may stick around ‘forevermore’ – while continuing to mutate.
‘The next variant could be Delta on steroids,’ warned Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist.
Osterholm, who leads the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, added that – because of the Delta variant – ‘the number of intensive-care beds needed could be higher than any time we’ve seen.’
He said that an analysis from his team shows that every American who has not been vaccinated or had the disease yet, about 100 million people, will likely get it in the coming months.
Preeti Malani, a physician and infectious disease researcher and chief health officer at the University of Michigan, told the outlet that ‘vaccines are the key, and vaccine hesitancy is the obstacle’ to overcoming the pandemic.
‘It’s going to be very difficult to stop it from happening with masks and social distancing at this point,’ Malani said.
Aaron Glatt, chair of the department of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau, told Fox News that ‘everything in that article is correct’ but said the differences in opinion center on the likelihood of possibilities addressed in the Newsweek Magazine article.
‘We don’t know what will be the next variant to come,’ Glatt said.
‘We have an inkling of some of the strains spreading throughout the world but which one will come to the United States or which one will become predominant in different parts of the world, Lambda or some of the other ones, really is unknown.’
However, Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg outright dismissed the Newsweek Magazine article, and condemned the ‘dangerous and destructive game’ journalists engage in by ‘constantly be speculating about the worst possible scenarios.’
Høeg – an epidemiologist and associate researcher at University of California, Davis – told Fox News that Americans ‘have every reason for optimism.’
‘This line ‘Delta has now shattered that optimism,’ is not appropriate. I would indeed consider this fear mongering,’ Høeg said.
‘Epidemiologists and infectious disease docs should continue to study variants, but it is not necessary (or healthy in my opinion) for the public to go around worrying about the variants getting increasingly worse.’
A map shows the number of total cases and deaths in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic
A graph shows the total number of deaths per day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
A graph shows the total number of COVID-19 deaths per day in July and August
A graph shows the total number of infections per day since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
A graph shows the total number of COVID-19 infections per day in July and August
Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, suggested vaccines prevent such a ‘doomsday variant’ from emerging by lowering the chances for COVID-19 to spread and mutate.
‘It’s not like some deadly version of this is going to compete and beat out the delta variant; the only thing that could take over from the delta variant is one that’s more contagious,’ Siegel said.
‘I don’t see this changing enough so it suddenly reinfects everybody that’s already had it, and eludes the vaccine.’
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as vaccine makers Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, have recently made statements expressing that the organizations remain confident that vaccines can protect against COVID-19 variants.
The CDC has noted that all authorized vaccines have shown 65% to 95% efficacy in preventing symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 – and more than 89% effectiveness against the coronavirus severe enough to require hospitalization.
While some breakthrough cases are possible, health officials have continued to tell Americans that vaccines substantially reduce the spread of COVID-19 – even against the Delta variant.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious diseases doctor at University of California San Francisco, conceded to Fox News that COVID-19 could possibly not ever be eliminated because its high transmissibility.
But she noted: ‘We can control the virus, which may ultimately cause mild symptoms in a small fraction of vaccinated individuals, and outbreaks of severe disease among those who have yet to receive shots.’
The Newsweek Magazine article noted that the World Health Organization is already keeping an eye on several mutations beyond Delta.
The Eta and Iota variants – as well as the Kappa variant which arose in India like the Delta variant – have all infected numerous countries.
Public health experts are particularly concerned about the Lambda variant and its ‘unusual success in infecting fully vaccinated people,’ Newsweek Magazine noted.
Dr. Imran Sharief, a pulmonary disease specialist, told Fox News that ‘new variants are going to continue to emerge’ until the United States reaches herd immunity, predicting that the virus could lose its ‘potency’ by ‘at least 2024.’