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Virus Expert Just Issued "Tragic" Warning

“This infection, this virus, this variant is going to spare no one,” warned Jha.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

When it comes to the coronavirus, things are going from bad to worse. Doctors are asking us to think of the Delta variant as a whole new virus, one far more dangerous than the first. How can you stay safe? Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, appeared on the "COVID: What Comes Next" podcast, available from The Providence Journal and the USA TODAY Network, to discuss exactly that, and he issued some rather terrifying warnings—and some cogent solutions. Read on for 6 points that could help you stay safe and end the pandemic—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.


Virus Expert Warned of This "Astronomical" COVID Threat

Nurse placing an oxygen mask on the face of a patient in hospital.

"This infection, this virus, this variant is going to spare no one," warned Jha. "And if you are unvaccinated, you are almost surely going to encounter this virus up close and personal. And all of us will, but for those of us who are vaccinated, we're going to encounter it as a vaccinated person, and most likely will not get infected. And if we do, we'll not get sick, but if you encounter it as an unvaccinated person, you will have a very high likelihood of getting infected. So I'm very worried that a lot of people are going to get infected in the in the couple of months ahead. And I'm talking about a lot—like a modeling suggests as many as 35 million Americans may get infected over the next couple of months, as an astronomically large number, and most of them are going to be unvaccinated people. And many of them are kind of going to end up being quite sick."


Virus Expert Warned That These States are in Trouble With So Much COVID

Colorful homes and historic architecture in New Orleans, Louisiana

"We've got an incredibly contagious variant, the Delta variant, now spreading throughout the whole nation," said Dr. Jha. "Infection numbers are going up pretty much in every state in the country, but in states that have low vaccination numbers and not a lot of public health restrictions, those numbers are exploding. And so we see that in Louisiana and Missouri and Arkansas, but we also see it in a couple of the big states. Texas numbers are rising quickly. Florida is just in terrible shape, more infections and hospitalizations right now than they had at any point in the pandemic. And what's tragic about that is we have something that can stop, right? Which is vaccines."


Virus Expert Said Even Massachusetts and Rhode Island Are Not Immune

Boston, Massachusetts, USA historic skyline at dusk.

"When this happened a year ago, we thought, boy, this is really painful," said Jha. "And we have to put in all these info measures to stop this. We don't have to put in painful measures anymore. Now it's, if we got enough people vaccinated. If we don't vaccinate, then we may have to use some painful metrics in the short time. But I do want to make other one other point. This is such a contagious variant that even highly vaccinated states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island are not immune. We need more people vaccinated, even in these places, if we're really going to use vaccines as our strategy to stop the spread of this virus."

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Virus Expert Said Young People and Children Could Be in Trouble

Sick child in bed, mother holding thermometer, comforting poor girl

"There are two sets of issues going on," when it comes to kids, he says. "First, as you know, we had a whole year of minimizing the infection, saying, It's no big deal. Kids don't thankfully get very sick, but some of them do. And we want to be careful with kids. The big question people are asking me right now is, is the Delta variant particularly bad for kids, that do kids get sicker with the Delta variant than they did with Alpha or the version from last year? The short answer is, I don't know, like we honestly don't know." He explains the rising hospitalization of young people as due to "a lot of places are having very large infection numbers. And so if you have a massive surge, kids are not immune, they're going to get infected. And most of them will do very well, but a small number will end up getting sick and hospitalized and in the ICU. And is that worse than it would have been if we saw similar infections with alpha or the other variants? I don't know."

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Virus Expert Warned That Vaccinated People Can Spread COVID

"If one question is, can vaccinated people spread the virus? The answer is yes, they can," said Jha. "We've seen it. But all the cases that I'm aware of have happened while the vaccinated person was symptomatic. What does that mean? It means that they were coughing, had a fever when they were spreading. And that's important because if you have a fever and a cough, you can isolate yourself. The big question is what if you are vaccinated and you feel well, you're totally fine. Can you be infected and spreading? We just don't know."

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Doctor Giving Older Woman Corona Virus Vaccine Injection In Hospital

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek