A leading U.S. immunologist warned a "second wave of infections" might hit the United States as the COVID-19 death toll across the country surpassed 150,000 on Wednesday.
"We still worry about the second wave of infections," Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, told Xinhua in an email interview.
"We need to be better prepared for a second wave by having enough protective equipment and a willingness to do extensive measures to minimize transmission if a second wave occurs," he said.
More than 4.4 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States with the fatalities reaching 150,090 as of Wednesday evening, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Florida, North Carolina and California on Wednesday set new state records for coronavirus-related deaths reported in a single day, according to data tracked by The Washington Post. Daily new cases in late July reached more than double the previous peak from April.
Perlman attributed the main factor driving the recent surge to "too early" relaxation of mitigation measures.
"People relaxed their protective measures too early," he said.
As the pandemic progressed recently, younger people are being infected and younger patients with co-morbidities are at higher risk for severe disease, Perlman told Xinhua.
Currently, more than 20 states have paused or reversed their reopening, and over 30 states have placed mask mandates.
Perlman said the new restrictions should help, adding the challenge is getting people to follow the rules.
"Masks also help. I think that control follows institution of effective measures by a few weeks," he said.
"We do not know if we are at the worst stage," Perlman said. "I worry that it will not be until the end of 2021 that we are truly in better shape."
Two of the most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccines, developed by U.S. companies Moderna Inc. and Pfizer Inc., entered the final phase of their studies this week.
A total of 30,000 volunteers will be enrolled across the United States in separate trials to determine whether the vaccines prevent symptomatic COVID-19.
"A vaccine will help halt transmission and perhaps a second wave," Perlman said.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)
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