Coronavirus

‘The next six weeks are going to be really, really bad’: Ashish Jha urges public to stay safe until COVID-19 vaccine is widely available

“Anybody who gets infected today who dies is somebody who could have gotten vaccinated two months from now.”

The first shots of the COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to health care workers across the country on Monday, a brief moment of hope and celebration on a day that also saw the United States pass the grim milestone of 300,000 Americans killed by the virus. 

And while acknowledging the “light at the end of the tunnel,” public health experts are warning that difficult days are still ahead in the pandemic. 

When Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, appeared on ‘The View’ on Monday to answer a slew of questions about the vaccine’s rollout, he issued a grim warning about the coming weeks. 

“The next six weeks are going to be really, really bad,” Jha said. “We are going to see hospitals overwhelmed. We’re already seeing many hospitals running out of staff. And remember, when hospitals run out of staff, it’s not just COVID patients they can’t take care of. They can’t take care of other people too. So we are seeing those strains.”

Those strains are just going to get worse over the next six to eight weeks, he said. 

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“We know what to do,” the doctor said. “Wear a mask when you’re outside the home, don’t socialize with people who are not part of your bubble … If we can just hunker down, we’re going to save a lot of lives,” Jha said. “Anybody who gets infected today who dies, is somebody who could have gotten vaccinated two months from now. So let’s keep people around and keep people safe until the vaccine becomes widely available.”

The rollout of the vaccines mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic, the doctor said, but the country can’t let its guard down.

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He said he hopes the average American might be able to start getting vaccinated in late April or May, but it won’t be until late summer, when a significant number of people have gotten the shots, that things will truly start to look better.

“Once these vaccines are out and the majority of Americans take it, life will get meaningfully better,” Jha said. 

Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, sounded an alarm about the current situation in the United States on Monday, blasting elected officials for not doing more to address and contain the surging infections. 

“How can we possibly be OK saying Hurrah, we have a vaccine – that will benefit most months from now,” Mina wrote. “Look at US cases and deaths: 3,000/day! How can we be OK with this?  How are we NOT mobilizing every single resource in the US right NOW? What are our elected leaders doing?”

The COVID-19 crisis is being treated too often like an academic exercise, the Harvard epidemiologist said. 

Everyone, he said, has “become numb” to the toll.

“We should be treating it with the urgency of a bomb killing 1000s of Americans every day,” Mina said. “We have the tools and ability. We, the US, choose not to protect ourselves.”

Watch Jha’s full appearance on ‘The View’ below: 

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