Oklahoma Scientists Researching What COVID-19 Could Look Like For The Next Few Years

Tuesday, May 11th 2021, 4:40 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma scientists are predicting what COVID could look like over the next several years.

Hal Scofield is a Senior Scientist at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and has been researching what COVID-19 could look like this time next year.

"It's hard to imagine how you would get to 0 cases, you can't get to 0 influenza or pneumonia," he said.

Scofield said there are a few scenarios that could play out.

He said if vaccination levels remain the same, with about 25 to 30 percent of people not getting vaccinated, our new normal will still be a reality. 

"There will be continued epidemic level transmission all the way through the end of 2022," Scofield said. 

Scofield said if more people get vaccinated, we could see only a few hundred cases per year, but scientists say it's most likely COVID-19 will eventually resemble the annual flu.

He said there are still a lot of unknowns like if the COVID variants will get worse. He said a specific strain from the U.K. is causing the most problems here in the United States right now.

"It's much more infectious and more dangerous in young people, but is covered by the vaccines," Scofield said.

Scofield believes the shot is still the best way to eradicate the virus for good.

He thinks there might be annual booster shots needed but says scientists are still researching how long vaccine antibodies last.

The state health department is also urging people to get vaccinated after it dropped the state of emergency last week and announced changes to how Oklahoma COVID-19 data would be reported. 

"I want to challenge Oklahomans with a goal for the month of May," said Deputy Health Commissioner Keith Reed. "We are working toward a goal of three million total doses of the vaccine administered by Memorial Day."

For now, Scofield said it looks like COVID-19 is here to stay for the long term.