A top scientist and expert in pandemic preparedness and response has issued a stark warning to the American public: ‘Normal life won’t resume until 2021.’
Ali Nouri, President of the Federation of American Scientists, told DailyMail.com that the public may not be ‘going back to our daily lives’ until a vaccine against coronavirus is in circulation, which could take over a year.
Dr Nouri, an expert in virology, cell biology, and developmental biology, cautioned anyone hoping for social distancing or lockdown precautions to be dropped before summer that the virus was ‘unprecedented’ in living memory and could resurge in several waves.
‘We will certainly have to continue these stay at home orders for I suspect at least through the end of May, or perhaps some time in June,’ the leading scientist said.
‘There’s not going to be a time when there is a magic date and then everybody goes back to their lives as normal. That’s not going to happen for a long time.
‘Once June comes around, once July comes around, it’s not going to be the kind of situation where people are going to be going to crowded restaurants and movie theaters. Things are going to be different, I suspect, until we have the vaccine.’
Ali Nouri, President of the Federation of American Scientists, told DailyMail.com that the public may not be ‘going back to our daily lives’ for another year
‘If we do really do a good job of flattening that curve and reducing the number of transmissions from person to person, we still have to be very careful while we lift those restrictions,’ Nouri says
‘There’s not going to be a time when there is a magic date and then everybody goes back to their lives as normal,’ Nouri says
More than a million have been infected around the world and the virus has killed over 51,400.
Nouri said that the US is currently far from ‘flattening the curve’, a mantra of public health officials meaning reducing the rate of infection enough to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
He said even though the ground zero of the crisis, Wuhan, China, had cracked down hard on the virus and was several weeks further along in their containment process than the US, it was still enforcing some lockdown measures.
Despite reporting no new domestic cases of the virus, the Chinese government is still telling residents of the city to stay indoors where possible.
‘That really tells you that this virus has the potential to really flare up again, even in places that have flattened the curve,’ Nouri added.
‘If we do really do a good job of flattening that curve and reducing the number of transmissions from person to person, we still have to be very careful while we lift those restrictions.
‘What’s really different about this novel coronavirus is that it’s this combination of both being very contagious and then also at the same time being about 10 times more lethal than the flu.’
Current data suggests each person with coronavirus infects more than two others, on average.
More than 3,000 people died from the virus in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, accounting for the majority of the deaths in mainland China.
A Lancet study published earlier this month by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that extending the lockdown through April could buy crucial time for hospitals and delay a second wave of infections from late August to October.
‘The city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical-distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases,’ said study co-author Kiesha Prem.
The number of cases nationwide Monday shot to 368,254, with at least 11,000 dead, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University
Nouri says normal life cannot resume until a vaccine against coronavirus is in circulation, which could take over a year to produce
Dr Nouri, who has previously served in Congress advising Senators Jim Webb and Al Franken, said that to effectively tackle COVID-19, America needs to have far more widespread testing, not only to detect who has the virus but also who has since become immune.
‘The really challenging part of this is that the virus can be passed on asymptomatically. As high as 25% of infections turn out to be coming from people who don’t even know that they themselves are infected,’ the infectious disease expert said.
‘We need a lot more diagnostic testing. We need to really have a really good idea of the dynamics of the infection; who’s infected, who’s not infected. So when we actually do leave our homes, when we do identify new cases, we can quickly introduce mitigation measures again on areas that are impacted.
‘We’ll probably also need to expand serological tests where we can detect antibodies in individuals that already succumbed to the virus and have recovered and therefore are more likely to have a level of immunity that others may not have.’
Dr Nouri says that the US is far from flattening the curve of coronavirus infections
The number of cases nationwide Monday shot to 368,254, with at least 11,000 dead, according to data compiled by John Hopkins University.
Dr Nouri warned against a ‘patchwork system’ where some states are stricter than others, which he blamed on indecision by the White House.
‘The White House is essentially saying ”we’re gonna leave it to you to decide”,’ he said.
‘In Virginia the governor has issued stay at home orders until June 10th which I think was the right thing to do, but in Florida you don’t have anything in place.
‘You could end up creating a patchwork system where some states are doing a better job than others. This is a global pandemic that doesn’t recognize those state lines. There has to be more uniformity across the board.’