'Will the virus evolve?': Duke experts discuss herd immunity and co-existing with COVID

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Health experts in the Triangle weighed in where we are in the COVID pandemic and while urging caution, they're optimistic we are moving into an endemic phase, learning to co-exist with the virus.

Even if or when new variants emerge, Dr. Cameron Wolfe an infectious disease specialist at Duke University and Dr. David Montefiori, Director of Duke's Laboratory for Aids Vaccine Research and Development said we are better prepared to handle it with vaccinations, boosters, and treatments that are widely available.

However, uncertainty still remains.

"Will the virus evolve and escape the vaccines? That's really the big question right now," said Montefiori. "I think we are on a trajectory where this pandemic is becoming endemic. I think this virus is always going to be with us. It's something we're going to have to learn to live with."

Wolfe said both socially and from a public health perspective, COVID is no longer derailing day-to-day activities.

"Locally for us in North Carolina we have not seen reassuringly any significant jump in the numbers of hospitalized patients, yet," Wolfe said. "We've learned a lot more over the last couple of years in terms of how to handle surges of patients, should they come."

Still, amid ever-shifting mask guidance and mandates, Wolfe urged caution, warning that dropping a mask on public transportation increases the risk of transmission.
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