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Former Biden COVID adviser warns long-term virus modeling 'based on pixie dust'

Osterholm said the White House may have predicted massive COVID case numbers in order to secure more pandemic relief funding

May 16, 2022 10:53pm

Updated: May 17, 2022 6:39am

Former Biden COVID task force member Michael Osterholm warned that the public is experiencing "whiplash" with pandemic regulations and any long-term modeling of the virus is "based on pixie dust."

CNN asked Osterholm last week about a "big disconnect" between the White House, which predicted up to 100 million COVID cases this fall, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is now only recommending masks to be3 worn on public transportation.

"I think this has been kind of a whiplash moment for the public on Covid-19," Osterholm replied.

Osterholm, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy director at the University of Minnesota, said he has not seen data supporting the possibility of a 100 million case surge this fall.

"No one should make that kind of statement without providing the assumptions behind that number. Could it happen? Sure, but it's more likely if a new variant shows up that is more infectious and more likely to evade existing immune protection than Omicron," Osterholm also said. 

"Any modeling that looks beyond 30 days out is largely based on pixie dust," he explained. "I worry that the White House has gotten way ahead of their skis on this one, but I understand the administration is trying to emphasize the need for Covid relief money."

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