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U.S. backing waiver of patent protection for vaccines is a ‘complex issue’: Doctor

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Dr. Payal Patel, Infectious Diseases Physician, joins Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers and Alexis Christoforous to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: To talk more about this now and overall the state of the coronavirus in our country with Doctor Payal Patel, infectious disease physician. , Doctor Thanks for being with us. You just heard Anjalee's report, and there is controversy here about what the Biden administration is doing. How necessary is it for the White House to break these patent protections in order to expand global vaccine access?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah. I think it is a really complex issue. And we would think about this as almost pre-step one in the chain of events that have to happen to get a vaccine into someone's arm in another country. I think it is definitely a step in the right direction. Some people are thinking about it as kind of a push for industry to do something quicker.

We know that just by itself, if we were to just follow this all the way through, it might be until 2022 until it was really able to affect because of lack of raw materials, how hard it is to put together vaccines in another country without kind of that infrastructure. But at the same time, something like this happening could push more companies to donate vaccine, or the United States, to donate vaccine to countries that are in dire need right now, like India.

KRISTIN MYERS: And, doctor, I want to pivot now to talk about vaccinations-- new reports and surveys out showing that not too many parents want to get their children vaccinated. So I have a question-- what is your thoughts on some of those survey results? And then just more broadly, if we see most American adults being vaccinated, how necessary is it for children to be vaccinated as well, especially as we've seen that the virus has not impacted children as severely as it has adults?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, you know, I would think about those numbers as changing. Unfortunately, we're seeing, even in India now, lots of the pediatric ICUs are full. Just in this last month here in Michigan, there were a number of more pediatric admissions to the hospitals because of unvaccinated children due to COVID.

Things have changed from earlier in the pandemic, and that is because in the United States, many people have become vaccinated. The people that we are still seeing get admitted to the hospital are the unvaccinated. So thinking about this as a parent myself, a parent, what I want to do is protect my kid, right? And so we know-- we can look around look at the 200 million people in our country that have been vaccinated and aren't going to the hospital, aren't getting COVID-- if that's what you want for your kid, I would suggest getting them vaccinated.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: What do you make of what's happening in India right now and how much that might impact, perhaps, another wave here in the US? Do you think that that's really a possibility?

PAYAL PATEL: It's really devastating what's going on in India. And you know, the way to think about this is-- not even as a country, just in small, small groups, right-- and so even in the US, we've been thinking about it on a state to state basis, sometimes at a county level. What's happening in India is a number-- it's, again, very complex issue. But one thing that's really striking is less than 3% of the population has been vaccinated.

So there are a ton of people who are at risk of infection. We're seeing numbers out of people who are getting infected, but there's so many people who aren't making it to the hospital, who aren't getting tested. So we think that the numbers that we're hearing are probably only a fraction of what's going on.

We're all in this together. So thinking about that, the fact that India actually makes its own vaccines, was donating vaccines to other countries, that really is not helping at a global level. So whatever we can do here to help with the crisis there is, in the end, really going to help this be an afterthought in the future.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there-- Dr. Payal Patel, infectious disease physician, thanks so much for being with us.

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