64: What Will Variant Sigma Look Like?, with Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., Regents Professor, Division of Environmental Health Science; Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) University of Minnesota
Meet Michael Osterholm, Ph.D.:
Michael Osterholm, Ph.D. is a Regents Professor, the Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy (CIDRAP), and McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Osterholm was appointed to President Biden’s Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. He is author of “Deadliest Enemy” and hosts “The Osterholm Update: COVID-19” podcast. Dr. Osterholm received a Ph.D. and MS in Environmental Health and an MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.
Dr. Osterholm is a distinguished leader in a variety of areas including as a scientist, public health official, author, professor, and advisor.
- The State of the Pandemic. Pre-existing immunity from vaccines and prior infections clearly reduce severe illness and deaths. However, Dr. Osterholm questions, what’s after Omicron? What will variant Pi and Sigma look like? Viral evolution indicates that upcoming variants will be more infectious and have more immune system evasion. We must be prepared. (13:16)
- Lessons from Pandemics. There are sociological lessons to learn from previous disease outbreaks. The duration of the 1918 pandemic was around three years. However, after about a year, the public gave up on public health recommendations, and stopped acting on or accepting protections. (28:41)
- Vaccine Technology. Dr. Osterholm predicts we will see new vaccine technologies that are more immune enhancing. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines provide a rapid antibody response, which wanes in a matter of months. Adenovirus vaccines initially seemed less effective, but result in a stronger T-cell response, which is a more durable immunity. New vaccine technology will need to produce a complex immune response, rather than focusing on just the antibody response. (30:49)