King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin adopted an optimistic tone on Friday, predicting that the region could have the worst of the pandemic in a matter of months, if not weeks.
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Dr. Duchin cited a number of reasons for its positive outlook, including declining case and hospitalization rates, an increase in vaccine distribution, and an additional single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine that could be FDA approved. early next week. .
“We have many reasons to be encouraged as a community,” he said. “Complacency now would be a big mistake, but we are in a much better place today than a month ago, and we are approaching a possible return to normal in a few months.”
“With a few more weeks of serious caution and vigilance, we may be able to put the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic behind us,” he added. “We are getting closer to putting this in the rear view mirror.”
Duchin also touted the fact that last week marked the first time in the course of the entire pandemic that King County did not see a single new case of COVID-19 in a long-term facility.
In the coming days, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could prove critical in accelerating the county and state timeline to end the pandemic. That vaccine overcame a major hurdle Friday after an FDA panel unanimously recommended it for emergency use.
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The vaccine also has significant advantages over those made by Pfizer and Moderna.
“This is a very good vaccine,” Dr. Duchin said. “It has some very attractive features: it is a single dose, very easy to store, it is very effective and potentially has fewer side effects.”
Still, he also stressed that people should take any available vaccine, and that all three are “highly effective” in preventing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
“The real advice is if there is a vaccine available, take it,” he advised. “We can say with great confidence that all of these vaccines protect to a very high degree against serious illness, hospitalization and death.”