NEW ORLEANS — “I am just not ready to say, ‘Oh yeah, this is herd immunity and we're going to be in a much better place in April,’” said Tulane Epidemiologist Dr. Susan Hassig.
There's been a downward trend in COVID cases and more vaccines are being delivered, so the near future seems hopeful.
But today the CDC tracker shows cases in 46 states have either plateaued or started climbing again, including in Louisiana, so getting back to normal is a difficult timeline to pin down.
We all want to know when will life be normal, like it was in 2019. Doctors are speaking out about that in national editorials.
There was a recent one in the Wall Street Journal from a Johns Hopkins doctor. He said COVID will be mostly gone by April. Why? He said many more people who were asymptomatic, already have natural immunity. Add that to the increasing number of vaccines and herd immunity will protect us from serious illness.
But another article in The Atlantic has a shifting timeline by seasons, stating this spring will be like 2020, summer could be close to normal. In fall and winter, there will either be more improvement or a backslide. Then finally, we could have a pre-pandemic life in summer 2022. The coronavirus will still flare up like the flu, taking some lives, but won't rage out of control.
Dr. Susan Hassig has her evaluations of the science.
“Right now we are about where we were in the summer surge, so we're nowhere near Australia and New Zealand levels. It's not going away by April,” said Dr. Hassig.
She agrees cases and hospitalizations are down, but not that there's herd immunity. She said there are studies showing that people who were infected with COVID, but had no symptoms, don't have the strong immune protection that the vaccine gives, so they should still get a vaccine. And she has another reason.
“Because we are not yet sure what these variants are going to do.”
She believes true herd immunity will come as more people get vaccinated in many different communities.
“I think we're going to be in really good shape in the summer. I certainly hope we will, that we'll see some easing of restrictions. I'm really hoping we'll see music come back to New Orleans if we can get the musicians vaccinated,” said Dr. Hassig.
So there's still a lot of science coming out that's not all pointing in the same direction.
And Dr. Hassig said the case numbers are still not close to the lower numbers we had before that were in-between the highest peaks.