“I don’t think it will take much to really bring us back to 70,000 cases a day,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine.
In efforts to avoid another surge of cases and hospitalizations similar to the ones that came after large Memorial Day and July 4 celebrations, many opted to ditch the crowds over the long weekend. Others weren’t as cautious.
“We’re heading into a more difficult season,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former US Food and Drug Administration commissioner said on CBS’ Face the Nation.
“We’re heading into the fall and the winter, when we would expect a respiratory pathogen like a coronavirus to start spreading more aggressively than it would in the summer time.”
The new challenges ahead
For the Americans who have grown exhausted of the altered reality and lingering restrictions to protect against Covid-19, staying vigilant seems like a tall task. With cooler weather ahead, it’s likely many of the gatherings that have already been taking place — many against experts’ advice — will now move indoors, where health officials have said the virus can spread more easily.
Ahead of a vaccine, masks remain the most powerful tool against the virus, doctors have said, and one that’s been employed by colleges nationwide to curb transmission. But with tens of thousands of students back on campus, institutions are facing massive challenges.
“We won’t be able to distinguish immediately between whether somebody has flu or whether somebody has Covid,” says Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technical Lead.
Expert: Vaccine available for widespread US use ‘unlikely’
Despite the President’s hopeful message that an effective vaccine could be available by Election Day, Gottlieb said the likelihood that there will be a vaccine available for widespread use in the US this year is “extremely low.”
“I think we need to think of that as largely a 2021 event, and if we do have a vaccine available in 2020, it’s likely to be used in a much more targeted fashion — almost in a therapeutic sense, to protect very high-risk populations,” Gottlieb told CBS.
Several experts have backed the claim that a vaccine will more likely come at the end of this year or at the beginning of next year. But states should be ready to distribute a vaccine by November 1 “just in case” one is ready, according to US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams.
“We’ve always said that we are hopeful for a vaccine by the end of this year or beginning of next year,” Adams told ABC News last week. “That said, it’s not just about having a vaccine that is safe and effective — it’s about being ready to distribute it.”
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said earlier this month it’s simple preparedness.
“Right now I will say we’re preparing earnestly for what I anticipate will be reality … that there’ll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December — and we have to figure out how to make sure they’re distributed in a fair and equitable way across the country,” Redfield told Yahoo Finance.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Jamie Gumbrecht, Maggie Fox and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.