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San Diego County Reports 742 New COVID-19 Cases, 17 More Deaths

 September 16, 2021 at 10:50 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 A recent CDC report found that if you are not vaccinated, you are 11 times more likely to die from COVID. As compared to those who are vaccinated here in San Diego county, 57 additional COVID deaths were reported this week. That brings us to a total of 3,983 lives lost in our community due to the Corona virus. We know that the typical two-shot regimen of Pfizer or Medina and J and J is one shot decrease the risk of hospitalization and death. But what about the question of booster shots who should get one? How does that impact those who haven't been vaccinated yet? And how important is it in the fight against Corona virus joining us to discuss this is Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialists with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Sawyer advises, the FDA CDC, and the state on vaccinations. Welcome back Dr. Sawyer. Speaker 2: 00:55 It was great to join you. As Speaker 1: 00:57 I mentioned, the county reported 57 new deaths this week. How does that compare to previous weeks and previous surges? Speaker 2: 01:05 Well, we've certainly been at that level in the past. It looks like we're just starting on the down slope of this most recent peak. So we have had higher numbers in the past, but the deaths typically lag a little bit behind the cases. So I'm not sure we're over the worst of it. Speaker 1: 01:22 How do the demographics of those we're seeing die from COVID in this surge compared to earlier surges? Like the one we saw during the winter? Speaker 2: 01:30 Well, the majority of people who are getting severely ill and dying of COVID are elderly. Although we do see serious disease and younger adults, and even in children, you know, we, the demographics of people who are getting back's unaided pretty much predict the demographics of who's going to be suffering hospitalization or even death from COVID. Because as you mentioned, the vaccine is very effective at keeping you out of the hospital and dying. And so there are subgroups of our population that remain under immunized, and those are the people who are getting sick. Speaker 1: 02:05 You know, as, as we've talked about many times on this show, and you just mentioned deaths from COVID are a lagging indicator of how widespread COVID is in the community. Overall cases and hospitalizations have been slowly declining over the last few weeks. Could that mean we're coming out of the Delta surge at all? Speaker 2: 02:23 It does mean that, you know, this has been, uh, now our third big peak and the previous two sort of follow the kind of shape or curve that we're seeing now with a gradual decline after the maximum level. So I'm hopeful that we're over the immediate problem, but, you know, we will have another surge unless we get a higher percentage of our population immunized Speaker 1: 02:47 With this Delta surge and in-person school being back in session, are we seeing more cases and hospitalizations among children than previously? Speaker 2: 02:55 We are seeing more cases in children. Part of that certainly may do B due to getting back to school. And there have been some outbreaks in schools generally relatively small, but, and we were concerned that getting back to school would raise the overall community level. But so far that hasn't happened. Part of the reason we're seeing more cases in kids is simply the fact that younger kids under age 12, as we know, are not yet able to be vaccinated. So they're all completely vulnerable to the infection. Speaker 1: 03:26 You are on a panel that will advise the FDA on booster shots. That panel will be meeting tomorrow first. How do booster shots work? Uh, they're not like flu shots that are tailored to that year's flu season, right? Speaker 2: 03:40 Once your immune system has been exposed to an infectious agent or a vaccine, it remembers that that agent our backseat, and when you're exposed to it again, it takes off with a really bigger Russ response and raises your level of immune protection. Usually we measure that with antibodies. And so the booster dose that we're talking about tomorrow is to get people who've already received one or two doses of vaccine and are fully immunized, and then give them another dose six or eight months later to raise up their immune response. That's a different approach than we do with influenza. With influenza. We partly are boosting the immune response, but we're also changing the vaccine to match the strain that's circulating in the community. Now we may get there with Delta, with COVID or SARS Coby too, as well, because as we know it is changing that Delta is an example of that change. So the companies are also preparing new versions of the vaccine, the way we do with influenza. What do Speaker 1: 04:48 You anticipate will happen at tomorrow's panel meeting Speaker 2: 04:51 The role of FDA, which is what this advisory committee is for is to assess the safety and the effectiveness of the backseat. That's a different question than who should get the backseat, whether it should go to everybody or only to subsets of the population. So tomorrow's assessment is, is the, is a third dose of booster dose. Is it safe? And is it effective? And I'm still reviewing the pre material that we've been given ahead of the meeting. And there will be several hours worth of presentations at the meeting and discussion around what the data shows, Speaker 1: 05:29 No booster shots. They are approved for those who are immunocompromised. And I've heard about them being recommended for healthcare workers and older adults. But do you think the majority of people will need them at all? Speaker 2: 05:41 That's a very good question. And I don't really have an answer to that. Uh, we're still trying to look at what the impact of booster doses would be on transmission of infection. We've already said that once you've got the primary vaccine, you're pretty well from getting put in the hospital and dying, but you can still transmit the infection. So if we learned that booster doses cut down that transmission or eliminated completely, then we might give them to everybody. So we can get over with this pandemic, Speaker 1: 06:13 Uh, beyond whether booster shots are effective or safe. What about the question of booster shots, making vaccines less available to those who have yet to be vaccinated, whether within the us or abroad? Speaker 2: 06:25 Uh, I don't think that boosters are going to have any impact on availability in the United States. There is plenty of vaccine. The reason people aren't are not fully vaccinated is not because they don't have access or availability. That's very different in other parts of the world. And part of the answer to your question is, you know, what would be the impact of not giving boosters in the United States and distributing those vaccines elsewhere? How much would that impact the worldwide supply? And I don't have the answer to that. And fortunately, that's not going to be the point of discussion at tomorrow's meeting. That's up to CDC to decide from a policy perspective. What makes the most sense from a, from a public health viewpoint, Speaker 1: 07:12 This most recent surge isn't anywhere near the one we had last winter with 2.1 million San Diego wins now fully vaccinated. I mean, are we in a good position to avoid one this upcoming winter? Speaker 2: 07:24 That's a great question. It depends on a couple of things. It depends on whether we can get the rest of our population better immunized the folks who've yet to get immunized. It depends a little on what the virus does and whether it continues to change and new variants come up. And it depends on whether people are still, uh, diligent in wearing masks in indoor settings and distancing when they can, and being careful not to go to work or school when they're sick, if all of those things happen, I think we're in great shape for avoiding another huge peak. And again, I'm encouraged by the fact that so far, getting kids back into school has not created a big surge in our community. Speaker 1: 08:08 I've been speaking with Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist with Rady children's hospital and UC San Diego. Dr. Saw your advisors, the FDA CDC, and the state on vaccines. Dr. Sonia, thank you so much for joining us.

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San Diego County public health officials reported 742 new coronavirus infections and 17 additional deaths, according to the latest reports.
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