UCSF Doctor Says Return to Mostly Pre-Pandemic Life Possible by October

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A Bay Area doctor now says we could get back to mostly pre-pandemic life in the fall, but it requires a few key things to go as planned, including making sure everyone who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated.

UCSF Department of Medicine Chair Dr. Robert Wachter explained that vaccine distribution has gotten significantly better than when the rollout first started. He also said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that’s expected to be approved next week could be a game-changer because it only requires a single dose. 

Also, there’s growing research suggesting that anyone who has had COVID-19 before may only need one dose of any vaccine.  

If anyone who wants a vaccine can get one in late spring and rolls up their sleeve, Wachter hopes for something close to normal toward the end of the year.

“I think by the fall," he said. "I think October is a reasonable guess that we’ll get to something that doesn’t feel that different than it felt before the pandemic."

But health officials say until we reach those milestones, we have to keep our guard up. That means continuing to wear masks and maintain social distance. 

On Tuesday night, President Joe Biden held his first town hall since taking office and made a big promise to Americans about vaccines.

“By the end of July, we will have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American,” he said. 

Wachter is even more optimistic than Biden, calling the president’s estimate “conservative.”

“If we’re really going to be at 600 million doses by the end of July, we will probably be in a place where anybody who wants a vaccine will be able to get one sometime in May,” Wachter said.

Wachter said that in terms of the virus, health officials still worry about the variants first found in South Africa and Brazil, which seem to resist the vaccine.

“If those variants become dominant in the United States, then we have a problem and that’ll change the timeline because it will mean that the level of vaccination that we need in order to create herd immunity is much higher than it would be otherwise,” he said.

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