NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Meharry Medical College President and CEO Dr. James Hildreth reminded Davidson County residents on Tuesday there are still many questions and a way to go until the fight against COVID-19 is over.
Speaking during Nashville Mayor John Cooper's daily COVID-19 update, Dr. Hildreth stated the virus is "going to continue to spread" until herd immunity is achieved. In order to achieve the benchmark, Dr. Hildreth said at least 60% of the population needs to be immune.
Dr. Hildreth warned while the race for a vaccine is setting a record pace, the idea that summer heat will get rid of the virus can't be expected. Dr. Hildreth pointed out other countries facing outbreaks are in the summer months and they are still experiencing the same strain as other countries.
Also, Dr. Hildreth stated the virus will continue to be in circulation during the coming winter, as will seasonal influenza, meaning there could be two sets of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) causing a strain on hospitals. Dr. Hildreth also dispelled beliefs the virus does not affect young people, pointing to reports of young individuals suffering strokes and others needing dialysis from the effects of the virus on the kidneys.
Dr. Hildreth stated the effects are reflective of how the virus attacks every part of the body and urged all residents to continue to practice social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands frequently and avoiding establishments or places which are not adhering to such policies.
In terms of a potential antibody test, Dr. Hildreth echoed a scientific brief by the World Health Organization (WHO) which cautioned against some antibody tests. Dr. Hildreth said "several companies have created antibody tests that aren't always reliable." Until it fits criteria to detect COVID-19 antibodies specifically, Dr. Hildreth said it is a "waste of time and a waste of resources." Statement supporting Dr. Hildreth were also echoed by Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.