Local doctor believes we could be near the end of the pandemic

Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 18:18:40-05

TAMPA, Fla. — When it comes to getting vaccines to people in need, Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties have led the way and passed the 100,000 mark in less than two months.

So far, about 6% of people have received two doses of the vaccine in Pinellas and close to 5% in Hillsborough county.

“We’re gonna have a little tiny blip because of the Super Bowl party indiscretions,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, the Senior VP of USF Health and Dean of Morsani College of Medicine. “But, if we look at the past 14 days [Hillsborough] county is down about 30%."

The Department of Health says Florida has seen nearly 2 million total COVID-19 cases but Dr. Lockwood says there’s likely been way more than that.

“Those are only documented cases, so for every documented case there could be up to five times the number of undocumented cases which would mean about 10 million people have antibodies and some degree of immunity," Lockwood said.

He says vaccinations and wearing masks have lead to a decent decline in cases and he predicts if that continues, we could soon be out of the woods.

“I do think that we are approaching the end, I can’t say it’s June [or] July but certainly by August,” he said.

He says the vaccine offers protection for at least 6 months but says that doesn’t mean after 6 months you’ll get extremely sick if you get COVID-19.

“You might get a cold, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to get very very ill. It’s a really important concept for people to understand. Remember that 25% of the common colds you get are due to Coronavirus.”

He also predicts people will need to get booster shots over the next few years modified to what the current dominant strain is.

“I suspect long-term this will be yet another common cold-causing coronavirus,” he said.