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COVID-19: Fourth Wave? Experts Disagree, But Say US At Tipping Point In Battle Vs. Virus

Dr. Michael Osterholm receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in late January. Photo Credit: Twitter/@mtosterholm
Dr. Scott Gottlieb Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/FDA

Who will win - the vaccine or the variants?

That appears to be the question as to whether or not the United States could see a potential fourth wave of cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two of the nation's top experts disagree but both are saying America is at a tipping point in the now more than one-year-long war against the virus. 

Here's how it stands as of Monday, April 5. 

More than one-third of American adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. At the same time, there have been outbreaks of cases, especially in younger people, of the more contagious B.1.1.7 strain, which originated in the United Kingdom, as well as variants first identified in Brazil and South America.

"I believe that, in some ways, we're almost in a new pandemic," Dr. Michael Osterholm, an internationally recognized medical detective and director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, at the University of Minnesota, said in an interview with host Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday on April 4. "The only good news is that the current vaccines are effective against this particular variant B.1.1.7.

"They are now, as kids, getting infected at the same rate that adults do. They're very effective at transmitting the virus."

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is also wary of the rise in cases in 27 states and the District of Columbia the last several weeks but says if the US can maintain its pace of more than 3 million vaccine shots per day, a potential fourth wave should be averted.

"What we're seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven't been vaccinated and also in school-aged children," Gottlieb told host Margaret Brennan on CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday. "You're seeing outbreaks in schools and infections in social cohorts that haven't been exposed to the virus before, maybe we're doing a better job sheltering, now they're out and about getting exposed to the virus and they're getting infected.

"The infection is changing its contours in terms of who's being stricken by it right now."

But around 105 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine and about 60 million Americans are now fully vaccinated.

"You have somewhere around 200 million Americans that have some level of immunity in them already," Gottlieb said. "I think there's enough immunity in the population that you're not going to see a true fourth wave of infection."

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