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Dr. Richard Webby on preparing for a COVID-19 winter

Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi discuss winter outlook for COVID-19 with Dr. Richard Webby, St. Jude Infectious Disease Expert.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: A new study in England is causing some concern over a coronavirus immunity. The study revealed that people with COVID-19 antibodies declined by nearly 27% over the summer, showing immunity fading and a risk of reinfection. Joining us now to discuss is St. Jude infectious disease expert, Dr. Richard Webby. Doctor, good to have you with us this morning. So does-- do the findings from this study basically rule out the chance of herd immunity, which we just keep hearing about?

DR. RICHARD WEBBY: Yeah, no, I think probably no. So what we've got to remember is this is actually what we expect the immune system to do. So when our immune system sees one of these viruses coming in, it rapidly produces a lot of these antibodies that are designed to go out to fight that infection. But then the immune system is actually designed to, at the other end of that, to wind things down a little bit and to just stay in the background until we see that virus again. So I'm not too concerned by these data at this stage. This is kind of what we expect.

BRIAN SOZZI: Doctor, over in Russia, Vladimir Putin has instituted a new national mask mandate. Do you think the US should follow suit?

DR. RICHARD WEBBY: Yes, I must [INAUDIBLE]. I'm a bit of a believer in the mask, you know, having a look at what happens when masks are used in countries that have been really successful in controlling this outbreak. You know, they have relied heavily on mask use, social distancing, and testing. So, you know, to me it's a pretty critical component of a successful response to this pandemic, so, you know, whether it's mandated or not, those are, of course, questions for someone else to answer, but, you know, I think it's a great idea to be wearing masks. Absolutely.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Doctor, we have flu season upon us, the colder winter months rolling in. What's your advice for people as they prep for the winter and try to stay healthy?

DR. RICHARD WEBBY: Yeah, it's a-- that's a great question, right? So we're in a position now where we have one of these respiratory virus circulating and of course causing all sorts of problems. With winter coming up and the expected arrival of flu brings us potential that we're going to have two of these viruses causing the same symptoms, putting twice the pressure on our health-care infrastructure. So, you know, I think anything we can do to try and control flu is a great idea.

You know, luckily for the past six months a lot of the things that we should be doing have been hammered into us because of COVID-19, so the-- you know, the distancing, but surely the hygiene, the hand hygiene, the covering your cough, the staying away from people if you're sick. So those COVID-specific messages work really, really well against flu as well. You know, and of course the other biggie that we have for flu that we don't have for COVID is the vaccine.

So this year, we're going into a winter season. We don't really know what to expect. We could have a bumper flu season, and we-- it's possible we might have no flu season. But, you know, the one thing we know we can do to prepare is to get that flu shot, so, you know, now is the right time to be getting out and getting that.