Disease expert tells how we'll know we've peaked in the spread of the coronavirus

Posted at 10:33 PM, Apr 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 09:14:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A University of California professor says testing for antibodies is the key to tracking the curve of COVID-19's rate of spread.

UC San Diego Professor Stephen Hendrick has decades of experience in studying and writing about diseases, "this last fall in 2019 I taught a class on the history and biology of plagues."


Hedrick said the pandemic has shut his lab down.

"It would be great to be in the lab now and test some vaccines," he said.

Hedrick said creating a vaccine and testing people for antibodies to COVID-19 is essential, "if they just test for the virus that only tells us if you have an acute infection but if they test for antibodies that tells us whether you've ever had the disease."

Looking at the death toll, Hedrick says it lags way behind the virus's rate of spread.

"It takes about four days of incubation before you feel any symptoms another 10 days before they become severe and then in the worst case scenario another two weeks before death," he said.

While San Diego's death rate has slowly increased, Los Angeles saw their biggest spike Saturday with 81 deaths.

Hedrick says we could be on the downhill when it comes to spreading the virus, but we don't have nearly enough data to support it.

"We'd like to see three or four weeks after the death toll starts to wane before people start to think the incidence of disease has gone down," he said.

He said until we have a vaccine social distancing will continue to be important.

"As long as there are still people susceptible to the disease and we don't have widespread immunity by vaccination or everybody's had the disease there's always the possibility it's going to come roaring back," he said.

A fear everyone has during this pandemic.