COVID-19 booster shot is likely and ‘it’s okay’: Doctor

Dr. Andre Campbell, Professor of Surgery of UCSF & ICU Physician and Trauma Surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers and Alexis Christoforous to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

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- Welcome back. Well, it looks like teams are now getting the green light for vaccination. The FDA granting emergency use authorization to Pfizer and their vaccine in 12 to 15-year-olds. Let's chat more about this and more in the coronavirus pandemic. We've got Dr. Andre Campbell joining us now. He's a professor of surgery at UCSF and an ICU physician and trauma surgeon at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. So doctor, let's start with that emergency use authorization for Pfizer and their vaccine. Curious to know how much this could make a dent once we start getting teens starting to get vaccinated in addition to adults.

ANDRE CAMPBELL: Well, first of all, thank you for having me today. I really appreciate it. It is really great news that this emergency use authorization has been given for teenagers from 12 to 15. The study showed that in the group that got it, they had no infections. The other group had upwards of 16 infections. So it was proven to be very safe and efficacious with respect to giving it.

So I think this is great news. It automatically opens up 30 to 40 million more people as we begin to try to move towards herd immunity, which is that number we think about, about 70% of the population or so to get vaccinated so they could be resistant. But it is actually wonderful news. We're really quite heartened in the medical community that now it's being opened up because what does it mean? It means schools can open up, you know, more safely, you know, kids will be vaccinated better, and that we can look for things in a positive light now as opposed to what it has been over the last couple of months where we've had mainly bad news. That's good news.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, doctor, I'd love to get your take on something the Novavax CEO shared with Yahoo Finance earlier today. He was on with our health reporter Anjalee Khemlani. And he shared his thoughts on giving up his company's-- or possibly giving up, I should say, his company's intellectual property. Take a listen to this.

STANLEY ERCK: It doesn't work to just send out your IP. And people can't duplicate what we do. It would take years to do that, what we've done. We've accomplished that by licensing our product in four different continents already.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And of course, Stanley Erck, the CEO of Novavax, was talking about the Biden administration considering lifting the patents that these big pharma companies have on the COVID-19 vaccine so it could be more widely distributed around the globe. What is your feeling on that? I mean, certainly, these are for profit companies at the end of the day, doctor. Should they be able to hold on to their intellectual property here, do you think?

ANDRE CAMPBELL: Well, you know, I would tell you one thing. From the medical point of view, to me, it makes sense because the more vaccines we can make is the better it is. And this is a global pandemic. And we're struggling in the United States with trying to get people who may be vaccine hesitant or not. But look at what's happening in India. India is a really big disaster. This is a global pandemic. Brazil. It's also a big problem. So anything we could do to get this information out so that other companies could do it is fine.

Now, my understanding from what I have heard regarding this issue regarding the patent is that it will take time for these other companies to get up and running so that it may work, but it would work in 2022, which we need this right now. I mean, what's going on in India is terrible. There's a triple mutant that's running through the population. And it is something that we need to focus our attention on the fact that we're trying to get things under control, things are looking better here, but this is a worldwide problem. There are places where they've only given out 30,000, 30, 300 vaccines that have got millions of people.

So we have to start looking at things from a global point because this is a global pandemic. This is not just us in the United States, the richest country in the world, that we have more resources. We need to make sure we look at things from a global point of view. And this is a good thing I think in my opinion.

- So to that point, doctor, those variants that you just mentioned, those mutations, curious to know as a part of this fight. On a global level, how much will booster shots do you think be a part of that? I mean, as a medical professional, you obviously had access and the ability to get a vaccine much sooner than the general population. Are you hearing now that you might need a booster shot yourself? Is that something that you or all in the medical community anticipating will be needed not just to continue to fight the coronavirus pandemic but really to make sure that everyone is inoculated against those mutations, those variants?

ANDRE CAMPBELL: Yeah, that's a really good question because I was fortunate. I got a vaccine early because, you know, I'm a little bit more at risk than other folks because, you know, I walk up to patients, and they may have it. And we want to make sure we protect our health care workers because there's been thousands of health care workers who have died.

But there has been discussions that, you know, you may need to have a yearly booster. I mean, Pfizer is actually working on what a booster shot would look like, taking in these variants. Remember, these viruses are built to mutate. That's what they do. Right? The more they spread, the faster they spread that they will mutate.

Now, that's what concerns me in this country is that we have some states where we have 30% people vaccinated. We have other states where we have 70% of people vaccinated. And the problem is we're one country, and people travel all over the place. So if we're gonna make sure everything is safe and not have these pockets, sort of flare ups where people happen in Michigan, happen in Louisiana, happening in Mississippi, we need to really kind of make sure that we get as many people vaccinated as possible, making it easy so you walk down a corner to CVS, Walgreens, any place, you get a vaccine.

And we have to make it real easy because we're now into the group of people who are really saying, well, maybe it's not so safe. And I'm like, OK, we've given 200 million injections of this. And it is actually very safe, much safer than many other things that we do. So the point of the matter is that let's get everybody vaccinated. And yes, we're gonna probably need a booster. And it's OK. It doesn't hurt that bad.

- [LAUGHS] That is what I'm hearing. Doesn't hurt too bad. But a very good reminder that those vaccines absolutely are safe. Dr. Andre Campbell, professor of surgery at UCSF, of course, trauma surgeon over at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Thank you so much for joining us today.

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