As the world braces for another wave of coronavirus infections due to some countries prematurely lifting restrictions, medical experts share welcome recent developments. It seems that most clinical trials for treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 have generally had favourable results. In fact, some have already been cleared to move on to the next testing phases. Even though it looks like the situation might soon be under control, some suggest otherwise.

The warning allegedly comes from a renowned infectious disease authority. With approximately more than 290,390 deaths and over 4.2 million infections across the globe, SARS-CoV-2 should not be underestimated. University of Minnesota Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy director Michael Osterholm, discussed an alarming scenario that will likely happen soon, reports USA Today.

Based on studies conducted by researchers, the current numbers presented are just a small fraction of what's to come. "This damn virus is going to keep going until it infects everybody it possibly can," said Osterholm. Based on previous pandemics, it is projected to infect around 60 to 70 percent of the global population before herd immunity would eventually stop its spread.

Referring to the 1918 Spanish Flu which hit in multiple waves, scientists are observing the trend of COVID-19 cases in the upcoming summer months. If there is a significant reduction of reported infections, then the coronavirus could be seasonal. Many experts are already telling healthcare systems to brace for the worst unless a treatment or vaccine comes along.

"It's the big peak that's really going to do us in," stated Osterholm "As much pain, suffering, death and economic disruption we've had, there's been 5 to 20 percent of the people infected. ... That's a long ways to get to 60 to 70 percent," he added.

COVID-19 vaccine research
US officials warn that Chinese hackers are looking to steal coronavirus vaccine research Photo: AFP / ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

Aside from the threat of more COVID-19 infections, the fall season traditionally sees an upsurge of flu and other respiratory illnesses. If the pandemic is still not under control by then, healthcare systems will be overwhelmed. Currently, most hospitals are already at maximum capacity, while medical workers staffing these facilities are likewise undermanned. Thus, researchers are urging officials to reconsider lifting lockdowns until there is a breakthrough.