Beginning of the end? Berkeley epidemiologist shares COVID-19 predictions for 2021

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- While many hope the end of the coronavirus pandemic is on the horizon, the road to getting there keeps shifting. But the head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley's school of public health offered up some guesses about what life could be like in the spring, summer, fall and into 2022.

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Worries about vaccine supply and new variants mean the spring is looking much like today - full of uncertainty.

"Increased spacing, more time outdoors, masking, handwashing, better ventilation inside - I think we are still going to have to do those things for at least the next several months," Dr, Arthur Reingold, UC Berkeley's Head of Epidemiology said.

But the summer is looking much brighter, even amazing by comparison.

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Reingold said, "I think the optimistic scenario is between getting most adults vaccinated and whatever immunity there is from people having been infected, but we will have a substantial level of the population immune to the virus by the summer. We should expect the number of severe illnesses, deaths and hospitalizations will be markedly reduced and the hope is we will be able to live a more normal life."

That's when small gatherings of vaccinated friends dining indoors or going to an office become more viable.

But experts expect some resurgence in the fall as schools open up with still unvaccinated children and teenagers but say the clusters could be small and not involve closing down entire school systems.

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"I am optimistic either the current vaccines, the ones in the pipeline, the ones that can be rapidly developed if necessary against variants are going to make 2022 a much better year," Reingold said.

So here's to 2022, when the pandemic could be in the rear view mirror, with COVID-19 evolving into a nuisance rather than a threat.

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