Suzanne Judd, Ph.D. epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how we'll soon be able to tell if the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is on the horizon.
ADAM SHAPIRO: But we want to keep talking about coronavirus and COVID-19 because we use the term post-pandemic, but we're not out of the pandemic yet. And we're on the eve, the holiday is here of Memorial Day weekend holiday, millions of people hitting the road. Let's bring into the stream Dr. Suzanne Judd, PhD, epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. It's good to see you again, Dr. Judd. And very quickly, we know that the concern of all these millions of people perhaps gathering close to one another, but you say June 10 is the day we need to watch. Why?
SUZANNE JUDD: That is the day. That's where we're going to know what happens from all these people getting together. If cases stay where they are-- flat or decrease-- that will tell us that we're in good shape, that we may be nearing the end of this pandemic. The other alternative is that people aren't jumping out of their houses to break out of the isolation they've been in. And I doubt that's going to be the case, just given what we're seeing already. People are starting to mix more. They're going out. They're going out to eat. And we know it's a holiday weekend. And if American behavior holds what it's been in years past and the cases stay flat, that's a really good sign that we're getting close to the end.
JULIA LA ROCHE: And Suzanne, thank you so much for joining us. Our prior guest was just talking about their emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for their treatment. [INAUDIBLE] this is from [INAUDIBLE] biotechnology. So when we talk about-- I think it's just a curiosity here. We talk about emergency use authorizations. Help our viewers understand, when a company gets that for their treatment, how long does it take before that's able to be deployed?
SUZANNE JUDD: It depends on the company's supply. If the company has adequate supply and they've already got it out there, often, it winds up in the hospitals relatively quickly because they want to sell their drug. And if they were banking on this being cleared, they had indication it was going to get an emergency use authorization, they probably did have some supply that they were ready to send into hospitals.
ADAM SHAPIRO: At the end of our discussion with the previous guest, I asked him about the biotechnology that makes this antibody medicine effective. And could it be used to treat other viral diseases? And if I understood what he was saying, it looks as if yes. And so, my question to you, is there a kind of super coronavirus, either a vaccine or a treatment, that could, once and for all, take care of all of the different coronaviruses that hit us? I mean, the common cold, right? Are we on the verge of that?
SUZANNE JUDD: Right, people are saying the answer is yes. Some of the immunologists are saying the technology is out there. And we're getting closer and closer to having one vaccine that could take care of all of them, potentially even with applications to the flu. So the one thing this pandemic has done is really drive the technology sector into looking at some alternatives that hadn't been considered before.
JULIA LA ROCHE: I want to bring up another topic that's just kind of been floating out there. We actually had a Yale doctor on our air talking about the Tokyo Olympics, how that looks like it could be a super spreader event. Others might disagree. What do you make of it when it comes to the Tokyo Olympics? Is that something we should be worried about?
SUZANNE JUDD: If the vaccination rates are low, we do have to worry. And by low, I mean less than, say, 40% or 50%. Much rather have it at, like, 70% so that we don't have any cases come out of the Olympics. But that said, as long as we have a relatively decent level of vaccination for people attending the event, it shouldn't be a super spreader event. It's very different to have some level of immunity in the population versus what we had last year when nobody had immunity. When no one has immunity, you get these huge super spreader events. But again, as long as we've got relatively decent vaccination rates, there shouldn't be a problem.
ADAM SHAPIRO: And this goes in line with this discussion. If you're vaccinated and you're exposed to someone with the virus, and you should become infected again, do you transmit the new infection, even though you've been vaccinated, to someone else?
SUZANNE JUDD: Yeah, you can. The vaccination is not 100% guaranteed that you won't become sick yourself and that you can't transmit to someone else. So we saw what happened with the Yankees. It's definitely possible to develop infection even after you've been vaccinated. But it's far less likely to put you in the hospital or wind up with death.
JULIA LA ROCHE: And one final question before we go, we keep having this discussion around masks. I'm fully vaccinated, hit well past the two weeks immunity. And I had this discussion with my husband, you know, going into stores. And some stores are free from masks, but it's like, I don't know why we feel uncomfortable taking our mask off going into a store, even though they're allowing that. So I don't really know what my question exactly is, but maybe I'd love to hear from you as an epidemiologist, maybe what you're doing, how you're thinking about it.
SUZANNE JUDD: Sure, yeah. It's human behavior. For me, scientifically, I know I'm fine. I know that if I've been vaccinated, if I go into a store, if I go out to eat, it's fine. In fact, I'm looking forward to sporting events and concerts. Talk about super spreader events, when people are yelling and screaming around you. But at the same time, I keep my mask with me because it's become a social norm.
And I don't-- if I go into a store where they want people to wear masks, I want to be able to pull it out and put it on. It's kind of like shaking someone's hand was before the pandemic. That was the normal custom. You shook someone's hand when you met them or when you walked into a room. Now we've all gotten really used to the mask. So I keep it with me, again, just so that I can be polite if I need to be polite. But biologically, I know that I'm not at much risk anymore.
ADAM SHAPIRO: It's always good to see you, Dr. Judd. Suzanne Judd is PhD epidemiologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Have a wonderful holiday weekend.