'At the end of the Delta wave': Health experts optimistic as COVID cases decline in Florida

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Posted at 5:10 AM, Oct 18, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — For the eighth week in a row, the COVID-19 case positivity rate in the Sunshine State continues to decline. It’s now sitting at 3.8% for the week of October 8.

New this week, the FDA vaccine advisory panel unanimously recommended booster shots for the single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine, as the fight to keep cases down continues.

“We’re at the end of the Delta wave,” said Dr. Thomas Unnasch, Distinguished Professor of Public Health at USF. He says he’s “optimistic” about where we’re headed.

“I think that we may start to see this move into a more endemic type thing… this is gonna start to move into a sort of a normal flu type thing, where people get infected but they’re not gonna get super sick,” said Dr. Unnasch.

As more and more people reach herd immunity through vaccination or natural infection, the virus has less hosts to infect.

“I think what we are likely to see is actually we’re gonna see some more outbreaks, but they’re not gonna be big waves like we’ve seen before. These are gonna be like spot fires,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Dr. Unnasch is still urging vaccination as the best way to protect yourself against the virus even as we inch closer to herd immunity. He’s also urging those who qualify for a booster shot to get it.

Just last week the FDA’s vaccine advisory panel recommended booster shots for all people who received the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“What the advisers to the FDA felt is that given the data that they saw, very likely this should have been a two-dose vaccine to begin with,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House Chief Medical Advisor.

“Everybody knew that it wasn’t nearly as effective as getting two shots, and now what they’ve discovered is, ‘oh my goodness, if you give two shots of the Johnson and Johnson it’s as good as the mRNA vaccines, you’re up around 95% protection,’ well, duh,” said Dr. Unnasch.

Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Unnasch noted there are also studies suggesting J&J recipients get a booster shot of an mRNA-based vaccine.

“They seem to be even more effective in boosting the immunity through the initial shot of the J&J,” said Dr. Unnasch.

He says J&J recipients are still protected with their single does, but a booster will offer world-class protection.

The FDA is expected to make its official decision based on the panel’s recommendations this week. From there it goes to the CDC, and if they all agree boosters are needed, those could begin as early as this week.