What will we expect as we emerge from the pandemic? Bill Kubota talks to epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed and virologist Oveta Fuller about five things we’ll be hearing more about in the months to come. As different states apply different rules in reopening their economies, expect more complexities dealing with the pandemic as new variants show up. More vaccines will come after round one is done.


Read full transcript:

Gov Gretchen Whitmer Today we are announcing that restaurants and bars can operate at 50 percent capacity.

Gov Greg Abbott Effective next Wednesday all businesses of any type are allowed to open 100 percent. Also I am ending the statewide mask mandate.

Oveta Fuller, PhD We have 50 states in the USA and different states can set different regulations, unfortunately the virus knows no borders…

Gov Mike DeWine The reality that Ohioans continue to die each day from the virus. But there is something seemingly even more tragic and poignant about a death that occurs when the war is almost over.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed I think as we come out of this pandemic there is going to be a real question about how do we think about risk.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed If people want to get to a point where there is zero risk of getting coronavirus that’s not going to happen for a very long time, frankly if ever.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed This is not the kind of thing where we declare victory and the troops come home. There are still going to be a risk of transmission, it’s still going to take lives but at a far lower rate and we’re still going to need to protect ourselves from it and it’s probably going to end up very similar to the flu which started out as a roaring pandemic and now is something that unfortunately takes fifty to seventy thousand lives a year. So it’s going to be with us for a while.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed What’s probably going to happen is this virus is going to become endemic meaning that we’re going to be wearing masks for a while longer.

Oveta Fuller, PhD I think there might be surges and periodic times where we might have to don a mask again but that won’t be always, all the time because if we work together we can reduce the amount that’s in the atmosphere, reduce the number of people that are infected and keep them from producing lots of virus that go into the environment.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed These variants are going to continue to be a wild card in our calculus.

Every warm body that this virus infects is a new evolution opportunity and because it’s a new evolution opportunity there is a real risk that we are going to have more transmissible and yet more deadly viruses at the same time, right?

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed There is a lot of vaccine hesitancy, I just want to do some math for folks: You know 20 percent of the population is under the age of 16 so they’re not eligible to receive a vaccine at all. We know we need to get about 70 to 90 percent of the people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity through this vaccine and finally bring this pandemic to its knees. You take 20 percent off the top right there and now you’re talking about 80 percent – that’s if every single adult chooses to get vaccinated and upwards of 25 percent are saying that they’re not ready yet.

Oveta Fuller, PhD I would hope that by fall of this year that we could see that children may be vaccinated and be also have immunity. You know it could be, who knows, might be something we do like measles, mumps you know, at four years old you get your COVID vaccine for the first time.

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed There is going to be and continue to be misinformation about this thing and we’re going to have to lead with the science and evidence and be fully 100 percent transparent in what is going to be a very unsure and unsettling situation because there is no perfect outcome.

Rochelle Walensky Ha ha, am I doing okay so far? 

PBS NewsHour anchor Historically the CDC is not very political…

Dr Richard Besser, Former Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (PBS NewsHour) And then we hear politicians starting at the White House talk about how there’s nothing to worry about, how public health is overplaying this…

Bill Kubota It seemed like some of that got a little bit more politicized than we’ve seen in the past regarding science versus point of view politically. What’s in store for things now?

Oveta Fuller, PhD Coronavirus got politicized and because of that a lot of people lost lives and health and income and it could have been avoided. You can see the CDC turnaround already, there’s so many good things, public health information that’s coming out, there’s a single message about things so I’ve seen the turnaround already and it’s very welcomed.