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FAU scientist says increase in coronavirus numbers not all bad news

Spike in cases helping Florida build 'herd immunity,' Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu says
Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu talks about 'herd immunity'
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-25 18:00:31-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The number of coronavirus cases has passed 400,000 in Florida, with more than 12,000 new cases reported Friday by the Florida Department of Health.

Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu, who teaches microbiology at Florida Atlantic University, said the increase in cases is not all bad news.

Esiobu said what is happening now in Florida is helping to build "herd immunity."

While referring to a herd immunity curve, Esiobu describes that when a population is maintained, a virus is stable and people build immunity, "threshold density" is met and the number of people who can become infected runs out. Esiobu said the coronavirus has remained stable and has not mutated, and there has been proof of some immunity after infection.

"How long the COV-2 immunity will last is still in question," she added.

Esiobu said New York's coronavirus numbers are a good example of the herd immunity curve. She said the numbers spiked high before lockdown and now they are decreasing.

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"They had built sufficient resilience, population resilience, such that right now they're doing very well," she said. "Now we are experiencing what New York experienced three months back."

Esiobu said Florida successfully flattened the curve to help hospitals and must continue in a positive direction to maintain the spread of the coronavirus. She said she agrees with policy decisions about wearing masks and keeping tight spaces closed.

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"If we shut down right now, we are going to have a flattened curve and we will have another peak when we reopen," she added.

Florida ranks ninth in the country in the number of coronavirus deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But Esiobu said the state has made progress in controlling the death rate considering the high population of elderly.

She believes the numbers in Florida will plateau and the state will start to see them decrease like New York.

"This will help build resilience until a vaccine is available," she said.

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