Dr. Jha talks about the future: “Travel will be safe over the summer”

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – One year after the coronavirus rocked the world, health experts are looking back at what went wrong and what the future looks like moving forward.

Brown University’s Dean of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha held a press conference where he talked about everything from testing to vaccines to the future of traveling, admitting he plans to travel this summer himself.

“It is a remarkable moment. It’s been an incredibly awful year for our country and the world,” Dr. Jha said. “We’re clearly turning a corner and the future looks much better. We’ve got work to do in the short run and work to do in the long run.”

While many states, including Rhode Island, are beginning to peel back restrictions, Dr. Jha says variants still pose a great risk, especially the U.K. one.

“It will become the dominant strain in the U.S. before this month is over,” Dr. Jha said.

He also says the vast majority of people who are high risk still have not gotten their shot. He thinks that’ll happen by late April and says that’s when states should start to slowly ease restrictions.

“We’re not talking about waiting six months,” Dr. Jha said. “We’re literally talking about waiting four weeks, maybe six.”

In the Ocean State, immunocompromised people are still waiting for eligibility. ABC 6 News asked Dr. Jha what he thinks of Rhode Island’s vaccine roll-out approach.

“Rhode Island was slow in the initial days,” Dr. Jha said. “Rhode Island is now in a very different spot, I think you’ve seen a real pick up in vaccinations and it continues to get better.”

Vaccine supply is expected to grow in the coming weeks. Dr. Jha says he believes by late April, supply will be greater than demand, making it safer to travel and visit loved ones. He expects his family to vacation this summer.

“I expect that by the summer we will be able to,” Dr. Jha said. “Right now, my spouse isn’t vaccinated, but she will be at some point in the spring. That’s my way of saying that absolutely; I think people can assume travel will be relatively comfortable and safe over the summer.”

He says his greatest fear moving forward is mutant variants.

“The most obvious threat that I think Americans need to be aware of and understand is the scenario where we are all vaccinated in the fall and life is pretty close to normal and we’re seeing large outbreaks in places like Brazil. Then, you see the rise of a new variant that is truly resistant to our vaccines and the entire American population is a sitting duck and people get infected and sick again. Is that likely? No. Is that a possibility? Absolutely.”

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island