UC Davis disease expert: Vaccine could still be a year away, wear masks

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — From the perspective of an infectious disease expert, Californians simply got too comfortable, socializing indoors while unmasked and face-to-face in the middle of a pandemic.

As chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the UC Davis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Dean Blumberg has been keeping a close eye on the latest COVID-19 research.

“The vast majority of transmission is via the respiratory route and almost all that transmission is via the droplet transmission. So, that’s the 6-foot rule that we’re talking about,” explained Dr. Blumberg. “Those droplets don’t go more than 6 feet and that’s why masks are effective, not only in blocking that transmission if you’re potentially infectious, but also blocking droplets from others from infecting you. So, wearing the mask protects yourself against transmission too.”

Blumberg told FOX40 that contact tracing data has been very useful, showing COVID-19 spreading in California mostly in private, indoor home gatherings and in bars.

“And we know that the virus is transmitted much more indoors. It’s easier to transmit indoors than outdoors because it’s a confined space, harder to social distance and more limited air volume,” said Blumberg.

The droplets he referred to are released from the mouth, not only when people cough or sneeze but also when they talk, laugh or sing.

“They might have to raise their voice or even shout to be heard because it’s a noisy environment. And all of that is going to lead to more droplets being generated and more transmission,” explained Blumberg.

Blumberg said vaccine studies are looking promising. But even if everything goes perfectly, it could be another year before a vaccine is widely available.

“The last thing we want is any kind of vaccine rushed into use before we know that it’s safe,” said Blumberg.

In the meantime, Blumberg said face coverings will make a difference.

“We’ve got models out there that say if people would wear masks all the time when they are in public, when they are in a situation outside of their household, that we can really make a dent in the transmission,” said Blumberg.

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