Updated: February 08, 2021 06:08 PM
Created: February 08, 2021 05:28 PM
University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Dr. Michael Osterholm told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the new COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom is spreading faster and causing more severe illnesses than the original virus.
"We need to get older age groups vaccinated as quickly as possible," Osterholm said. "The problem we have right now with the vaccines, against this new variant is we just can't, in a sense, catch up with how fast the variant is spreading."
Osterholm told KSTP one strategy he supports is moving to a single-dose vaccination process where the second dose is not canceled but simply postponed to give older Minnesotans a chance to get vaccinated quickly.
"The next six to 12 weeks could see a surge if the federal government does not allow us to move to a single-dose vaccination," said Osterholm. "The UK variant is here in the United States and it is doubling in new cases every 10 days."
Osterholm said Minnesota cannot move to a single-dose strategy with the vaccines until the federal government gives the go-ahead.
"Review the data at the federal level as to how well the vaccine works with a single dose for those who are older," said Osterholm. "I think the data will bare out that a single dose does do very well in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and even death."
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