Earlier this year, President Donald Trump and other officials suggested the coronavirus might go away when warm weather arrived. But Dr. Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, has cast doubt on that line of thinking.
"Scientists have been saying since the very beginning [of the outbreak] that there's no reason to be confident in it vanishing in the summer. That was not a realistic hope at any point, and the data are continuing to bear that out," says Lipsitch, who is also director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at Harvard.
"Pandemics don't behave like viruses that have been around for a long time," he continues, "because there are so many people susceptible that the rules of what season is most favorable are sort of 'not very interesting' to a virus that has so many choices of who to infect."
Lipsitch also points out that models and projections are changing as more information and test results come in.
"The information on the models is changing because the data that we're incorporating into the models is changing," he explains. "That's one of the important points … as scientists, we follow where the data take us – and it's our responsibility to change our understanding of the world as the data that inform it change. And the data are changing because we are just now beginning to ramp up testing to an almost useful level in the United States. We still have shortages."
The Harvard professor compares it to trying to forecast the weather with every county attempting to invent its own kind of thermometer while doing their own forecasts.
"That's a little bit of the situation we're in," he says. "We are just trying desperately to incorporate data that we are beginning to understand – and so our views change as we get better data."
Dr. Lipsitch made his comments Wednesday on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins."