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Delta variant is a 'wake up call', emergency physician says

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Dr. Elizabeth Clayborne, UM Capital Region Medical Center Emergency Physician, joined Yahoo Finance Live to breakdown the latest COVID-19 headlines.

Video Transcript

- The FDA could potentially approve Pfizer's vaccine by the end of September. If in fact that were the case, I guess how significantly do you think this could potentially boost or increase the number of people willing to get the vaccine?

ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: I think it could help tremendously. There has been some research that shows that almost maybe up to three or four people out of 10 who are currently vaccine hesitant would potentially move ahead with vaccinations if it had full FDA approval. It would give them that boost of confidence.

But I think more important than that is the point that then we would be able to have vaccine mandates, which was earlier mentioned. And I think the vaccine mandates coming from employers and other organizations would really kind of bolster participation and inoculation rates that need to be more widespread specifically in areas of the country where we haven't had great early adoption.

So I think many health care workers like myself are looking forward to the full approval of the Pfizer vaccine and hopefully other vaccines behind that to encourage everyone to get a vaccine as soon as possible. And if that's the confidence that people need is to have that full approval, we hope it happens appropriately but as soon as possible.

- What's the advantage of getting a booster from a vaccine that may be different from the original vaccine you got? There's that discussion in San Francisco if you got the J&J vaccine to get a-- I don't know the right term. But a booster from either Moderna or Pfizer. What benefit is there to that?

ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: Well, there have been some initial research that was looking at whether or not you would have superior protection by mixing and matching the vaccines because they are slightly different in the way that they are treating our training your body to respond to the coronavirus. And by mixing and matching you might have a more widespread or more [INAUDIBLE] protection because you've learned slightly different sequences of that virus in which you can respond and protect yourself.

But the data is still depending on that. So we're not 100% sure. However, I do know that there are plenty of research studies that are taking place that are examining that exact question. And I know that in the United States, they're looking at having a potential booster plan that would involve kind of the same methodology for everyone regardless of what shot they had to begin with.

And that's why there's so many variables that are being considered. And we don't know exactly how that is going to roll out in the future.

- Dr. Taking a look at what's happening down in Florida also what's happening down in Texas, Florida specifically? Hospitalizations hitting your record for the third day in a row. And then of course, those two states, Florida and Texas making up a third of all new cases here in the US.

I guess the risk of this potentially happening to other areas of the country. What we're currently seeing play out in those two states. How do you read that, and guess how big of a threat do you see the Delta variant being to the rest of the country?

ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: I cannot emphasize enough how serious the situation is. I honestly as an emergency physician who continues to take care of patients on a daily basis who are testing positive for COVID.

And the majority the like-- in my personal experience, 100% of the people who I have had tested positive in the last several months have been unvaccinated. This is a real threat. I think this is a wake up call for everyone in the country, regardless of where they live. But especially in places like Texas and Florida, where we're seeing these case positivity rates go up and the number of hospitalizations go up.

What I implore people to do is look in your own circle of people and ask who there is vaccine hesitant. What information do they need? Make sure you're verifying your sources.

Even in my own family when I have people approach me about whether vaccine, if they're eligible and they haven't got it yet, I speak to them about where did you hear that it wasn't safe or that you weren't sure you're supposed to get it? Validate those sources.

My sources are coming from peer reviewed medical journals. And I look at that data very carefully, so that I can tell both my patients and my family and friends with confidence that I think getting a vaccine is the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19.

And I encourage everyone else to do that and just reach out to those members of their family or their friends circles who have not been vaccinated and encourage them to rethink that because it is very risky.

- I have a relative who's a doctor in a southern city that seeing a massive spike. And was pointing out to me that in the hospital COVID ward is filled up. But then the other kinds of things people go to the hospital for-- for, they now have the code where it's the room number. And then age and means they're on the gurney outside in the hall. Are you seeing that kind of overcrowding in your area? Or are you hearing the same kinds of stories?

ELIZABETH CLAYBORNE: The hospital that I work in has been very overcrowded for some time for a number of reasons. But any time there is an influx of COVID patients, it definitely squeezes our ability to care for the remaining patients that come in for regular issues.

In addition, we're having a lot of people who have been more active, kids participating in camps, and going back to school. So we're seeing some viral illnesses that are not COVID related that have cropped up.

And in general, I think the trend across the country, including Maryland where I work is that everyone is very busy, and then there is a heightened sense of nervousness and anxiety because of this Delta variant and how easily it is transmissible, and how potentially it is impacting populations that have been historically in the history of this pandemic. Not as impacted negatively.

But now certainly becoming more of a group that we're concerned about, including our unvaccinated youth and especially those school age children.