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News Too Real: The delta variant is up; doctors say don't demonize the unvaccinated, encourage

By ONME Newswire

In this episode of News Too Real, producer host, Julia Dudley Najieb features four experts from last week's Ethnic Media Service briefing to give a transparent update on the covid-19 virus and its quickly transmitting variants, especially the delta: Monica Gandhi MD, MPH, Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF/ SF General Hospital; Dr. Tiffani Jenae Johnson, Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician, UC Davis Children’s Hospital; Dr. Ben Neuman, Chief Virologist, Global Health Research Complex at Texas A&M University; Dr. Dali Fan, Clinical Professor, UC Davis Health Science.

As COVID infections spread throughout California among the vaccinated and unvaccinated, partially due to the high transmissible, delta variant, the public continues to be concerned about these pressing questions concerning the vaccines:

How effective are they among the both vaxxed and unvaxxed peoples?

Who needs COVID-19 booster shots and why?

How can we speed up vaccination rates before a new variant emerges, what risks do we run demonizing the unvaxxed?

Dr. Monica Gandhi MD, MPH is a professor of medicine and associate division chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at UCSF/ SF General Hospital. She also serves as the director of the UCSF Center for AIDS Research and the medical director of the HIV Clinic at SFGH. Dr. Gandhi. She completed her M.D. at Harvard Medical School and her residency at UCSF. She also obtained a Masters in Public Health from Berkeley in 2001 with a focus on epidemiology and biostatistics.

Dr. Gandhi first addressed the breaking news story regarding the Center for Disease Control's leaked (CDC) report on the multiple breakthrough cases in a town in Massachusetts. Mainstream media has saturated the story throughout the American public; however, Dr. Gandhi says the information is not in the right context of the study, due to the missing data from specific, thorough tests.

Dr. Gandhi explained why the delta variant exploded in other countries, also noting that the United States is a mixed bag,where some parts of the nation are fully vaccinated and other areas have less than 50 percent of their residents vaccinated.

She also explains her strong support for vaccine passports, FDA approval of the vaccines which are currently in emergency authorization use, and in giving workers paid leave to take the vaccine, along with days off in case people get sick.

Dr. Tiffani Jenae Johnson, M.D., M.Sc. UC Davis Health Children's Hospital - She is a board-certified pediatric emergency medicine physician. Her research program is focused on race and racism and its impact on child health. She is currently exploring root causes of inequities in the healthcare and early childhood education settings, including research on bias and discrimination and its impact on the health and well-being of children.

Dr. Johnson discussed the socio-economic and cultural factors that have left many minorities unvaccinated and the risks of demonizing the unvaccinated; she is not in agreement with the finger-pointing of the unvaccinated, nor does she agree with having a vaccine passport. This group is not a monolith and have valid, different reasons for not being vaccinated. For instance, she explained how children under 12 aren't even eligible to get vaccinated; yet, four million children have tested positive for COVID-19. Other reasons include not having access to transportation to get back and forth to the the COVID-19 vaccination location, as well as not being able to get paid time off to take the vaccine both times and have recovery days, in case they get symptoms.

Dr. Ben Neuman is the Chief Virologist at the Global Health Research Complex at Texas A&M University, having joined the Department in 2021. He received his B.S. from the University of Toledo in Biology, his Ph.D. from the University of Reading (UK), and his Animal and Microbial Sciences Postdoctoral Research at the Scripps Research Institute, Virology.

Dr. Neuman said the delta variant gets through vaccination immunity a little bit better than other variants, but the data is too preliminary. However in terms of efficacy, all the vaccines work reasonably well, he said--an 80-90 percent efficacy rate is a "Godsend." Dr. Neuman reviewed the six studies he has identified to make the reportingof the COVID-19 data more accurate and current: the UK, Canada, Scotland, two Israeli studies and the last study related to hospitalized Indian patients in India.

Dr. Neuman does see a concern in regards to schools, putting vaccinated and potentially infected people together in one room; it tracks back to the house of families, where the infections can be passed.

Dr. Dali Fan is a UC Davis Health Science clinical professor. He received his M.D. from Peking University Health Science Center and his Ph.D. and M.Sc. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is a member of the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, and the Chinese American Heart Association.

Dr. Fan explained in detailed through a PowerPoint presentation what conditions would need to exist to then recommend the COVID-19 booster vaccine.



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