Is the coronavirus getting weaker as it spreads? SoCal doctor discusses latest research

A SoCal doctor is answering questions from ABC7 and viewers about coronavirus, expectations for a second wave and vaccine development.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Is the coronavirus getting weaker as it spreads through a larger portion of the population? And should we expect it to mutate when the anticipated second wave hits this winter?

Those were some of the topics addressed by Dr. Anthony Cardillo, ER specialist and CEO of Mend Urgent Care, in a Skype chat with Eyewitness News.

Question: Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says we are still in the first wave of the virus. He also thinks we could see a vaccine by early 2021. What do you think?

Cardillo agrees, noting that viruses typically follow a seasonal pattern. The stay-at-home orders have helped to dampen the first wave. Without them, more than half the population would have gotten sick, with a 2% death rate. Then a second wave would still hit next winter.

"We calmed down the first wave," Cardillo said. "As long as we have a slow calculated opening, we can control it."

He thinks Fauci is right, that we can expect to see a vaccine developed by early next year.

Question: Some doctors in Pittsburgh have observed people not getting as severely sick as in the early days of the pandemic and a lower viral load. Does this mean the virus is getting weaker?

Cardillo said it is hard to tell if this is the case because there isn't widespread tracking of viral load, or the amount of virus particles within patients. But he noted that because of various precautions taken to protect the most vulnerable, more of the people getting sick now are younger and healthier, meaning they are better able to fight off the virus.

"It's not that it's getting weaker," Cardillo said. "It's that we dampened its vehicle for transmission. So it hasn't needed to mutate yet. But we're going to see a mutation come this winter."

Viewer question: Is a face shield adequate protection without a mask?

"I would have to say no," Cardillo said. "A face shield will cover just that, the face. If someone does sneeze, the particles can still get underneath that face shield. To be adequately protected, certainly a face mask is needed. a face shield is a secondary or augmenting device. It should not be a primarily device."

Someone who comes into contact with a lot of people, such as retail or health care workers, should consider using both a face shield and a mask, he added.
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