Watch: Ashish Jha is worried COVID-19 surge will get ‘much, much worse’

“If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s one way out of this: Get vaccinated.”

Dr. Ashish Jha Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Dr. Ashish Jha is warning the United States has tough months ahead in the nation’s fight against COVID-19.

The dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told “Good Morning America” Monday he is worried the surge in cases the nation is seeing, largely among unvaccinated individuals, is only going to get “much, much worse.”

“We’re still in the early days of this surge,” he said. “Right now we’re generating about 50,000 Americans getting infected. That number could easily double or triple. We’ve got a ways to go before it really peaks and starts coming back.”


The only solution, he said, is for more people to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“There is no other way this pandemic comes to an end,” Jha said.

On Twitter, the doctor wrote that the combination of the “super” contagious Delta variant, the high percentage of unvaccinated individuals, and breakthrough infections sets up the nation to see a “vicious cycle” for COVID-19 cases in the coming months.

Jha said public health measures, such as masks, reducing indoor gatherings, improving ventilation, and increased testing, will help break the cycle.

But what is really needed is a higher level of immunity.


“How high? Probably 85-90%,” Jha wrote on Sunday. “We’re at about 67% (with prior infections counted). So we need a lot more vaccinations. Or a lot more infections (and thus, suffering). I [know] which I prefer.”

In a Monday interview with “CBS This Morning,” Jha said that back in the spring, he was confident the U.S. was going to have a “fabulous summer.” But he did not foresee that a third of Americans would end up refusing to get the shot.

“I just didn’t see that coming,” he said. “I thought everybody wanted to put the pandemic behind us, everybody wanted to move on. I figured 90, 95% of people would get vaccinated, and we could be done with this thing.”


The doctor said he has sympathy for those who have not gotten vaccinated, saying they have been fed a “nonstop diet of misinformation” by people who have an “ulterior agenda.”

“We need to give people facts, and the facts are these vaccines are exceedingly safe and effective,” Jha said. “They work at saving lives. And right now we’re only really seeing the unvaccinated get really sick and die from this. If you don’t want to get sick and die, there’s one way out of this: Get vaccinated.”


Jha said he thinks businesses, schools, and hospitals have to step up with mandating the COVID-19 jab, as they do for other vaccines.

“It’s crazy how we’ve turned this into a political issue,” he said. “When I’m in the hospital, I have to have vaccines for the flu and measles, I can’t just show up to work without those vaccines. We’ve got to treat COVID in the same way.”

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