coronavirus

UCSF Doctors Offer Insight Into Spread of Coronavirus, Timeline on Vaccine

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UCSF Dr. George Rutherford, who some consider the godfather of contact tracing, on Wednesday offered one bit of good news about coronavirus.

"Interestingly, cases appear to be plateauing and it's actually falling in a number of states," Rutherford said.

But the UCSF epidemiologist warns we are not yet out of the woods, especially because so many people continue to gather in large groups without masks.

During a Zoom conference call on Wednesday. Rutherford noted cases are dropping in California overall. But Southern California and the Central Valley remain hot spots. Rutherford stressed that one group in particular is getting hit the hardest.

"The epidemic is moving from urban Latino populations to rural Latino populations," Rutherford said.

Both Rutherford and Dr. Joel Ernst, the head of UCSF's experimental medicine program, said we will not really get control of the virus without a vaccine.

"I don't believe this is a pathogen that's going to be difficult to make a vaccine against," Ernst said.

But how long will it take? The doctors said pharmaceutical giants Moderna and Oxford-AstraZenica are the farthest along on a vaccine.

But Moderna estimates it could be ready by October 2022, while Oxford predicts August 2021.

Both of those predictions are well behind the estimates from the nation's leading infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, who predicted a vaccine by the end of the year.

"It's easy to say let's split the difference between Dr. Fauci's optimism and the vaccine trialists' conservatism," Ernst said.

Once a vaccine is ready, both doctors said the CDC and a group of medical professionals will have to decide who gets it first.

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