Dr. Shikha Jain, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: New data from the CDC finds more Americans are deciding to get vaccinated as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase and as more businesses require proof of immunization. In fact, Oklahoma and Louisiana, two states that have lagged the rest of the nation in vaccinations, are now outpacing the national average. Joining me now is Dr. Shikha Jain, assistant professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Dr. Jane, good to have you here. I’d like to get your take on a sort of a debate going on right now amongst health officials in this country, those who are criticizing the Biden administration for saying that we’re going to need boosters, and should be getting them eight months after our second shot. Some are saying that the evidence is just not there to back that up. What’s your take?
SHIKHA JAIN: Well, I would say first of all, thank you so much for having me today. And regarding boosters, you know, I think a lot of people are looking at this as an either/or as opposed to an and. I think we can focus on getting our unvaccinated population vaccinated as quickly as possible, we can also focus on getting vaccines to other countries where vaccines are needed, and we can focus on getting these people boosters.
Now, the thing that a lot of people are discussing is the fact that if you’re vaccinated, if you’ve gotten two shots of the mRNA vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson, you have very good protection against getting very sick, or getting hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19. So these vaccines are extremely effective at preventing people from getting very ill or dying from the virus.
However, we do also know that if you’ve been vaccinated, the chance of you contracting COVID-19 now is a little bit higher because of this very contagious Delta variant. And if you get the virus, the chance of you getting very sick is low, but you can still pass it on to others.
And so I think the Biden administration is thinking ahead, and they’re trying to get this booster plan rolled out while also really focusing on getting these unvaccinated people vaccinated, because really, those are the people who are driving these surges and who are having our hospitals end up over-capacity.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Now, I’m wondering if there’s any data out now as time goes by on those who have antibodies, and how long those antibodies– so talking about people who have already gotten the virus– and how long those antibodies remain in the body and helpful in protecting against further infection.
SHIKHA JAIN: So there’s a variety of studies that have come out looking at people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 and people who’ve gotten the vaccines. And it does seem that the vaccines are more effective at preventing a recurrence, or a repeat infection, or an infection at all then people who are just relying on their own innate immunity.
I also want to remind people that just the level of antibodies isn’t the only way we can tell if people are protected from contracting COVID. There’s a lot of other mechanisms in our immune system, including memory cells and other parts of the immune system along with the antibodies that help protect us from COVID and help protect us from other infections as well.
So I think that it’s important to remember that these vaccines are very effective, and they’re– they’ve been shown in multiple studies to be more effective in protecting people than the people who just got COVID the virus and didn’t get vaccinated.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want to turn to travel for a moment, because, you know, we’re already hearing from folks in the travel industry about, you know, how they’re starting to see a drop-off as the Delta variant continues to spread around the world. The US recently extended nonessential travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico.
Do you– some are saying that’s overkill. What are your thoughts on that, and should we perhaps be putting more restrictions in place, because we do understand just how global this virus is?
SHIKHA JAIN: I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more restrictions in place, and I don’t think it’s overkill at all. If you look at a country like New Zealand that has had great risk mitigation, they had one case. They shut down the country. And within a couple of days, they were up to 30 cases. So you can see how fast this virus really spreads.
And we are really concerned that with the large number of unvaccinated people across the world that we’re going to see more contagious and more potentially deadly variants come out. And if we get to a point where we have a variant that can get around our vaccines, we’re going to be in real trouble.
So until we can get things under control within the US and until we can get vaccines to some of these countries that have a very low uptake of vaccines because they don’t have the supply, I think the travel restrictions are not only necessary. They might end up needing to be expanded.
ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Dr. Shikha Jain, thanks so much for being with us.
Originally Appeared On: https://finance.yahoo.com/video/doctor-u-travel-amid-pandemic-185403130.html