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Pfizer identifies fake COVID-19 shots abroad

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Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Hiral Tipirneni joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down how Pfizer indentified fake COVID-19 shots abroad and what this means for vaccine rollout.

Video Transcript

- We want to continue this conversation. For that, we want to bring in Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, an emergency medicine physician based in Arizona. And doctor, it's great to have you on the program here. Lots to talk with you about. Let's first start with the fallout from the Pfizer and fake vaccines that are now being reported in two locations worldwide. When you take a look at, and the impact that that could have on getting the global population vaccinated, what are your biggest concerns?

HIRAL TIPIRNENI: Yeah, you're exactly right, it does impact our overall plan, right? The plan is to make sure that that global vaccination effort is-- reaches its fruition. And none of us are fully out of this pandemic until the whole world is out of the pandemic. And so yes, these concerns, obviously they're very real concerns about the conditions of the plant, the safety and integrity of those vaccines. We want to make sure that all of that is at its highest level.

But every time that is something that is out in the public space, we know that that is impacting, you know, the trust and the faith in these vaccines. Now, [INAUDIBLE] physician I know will tell you that the vaccines are safe. They are well studied. They're well regulated. And none of us, for the most part, have had any hesitation about getting their vaccines. But obviously, when we hear about these aberrancies-- and they are aberrancies, let's be clear, that's not the norm-- but when we hear about it, it absolutely affects the faith in the integrity of the vaccines, the safety. And that does us all a great disservice.

- Doctor, let's talk about the valid and the legitimate vaccines, for instance Pfizer-BioNTech. There are reports that those people who got the Pfizer vaccine may actually have to get a third shot as a booster. What concerns, if any, should people have when they hear that news?

HIRAL TIPIRNENI: They shouldn't have any concerns because we know there's still a lot about this virus we're still learning. And what we didn't know right off the bat is how long will that immunity last that we are conferred through this vaccine? Will it be three months, will it be six months, will it be nine months? It's unclear.

Look, I mean, we get a different flu vaccine every year, right? Obviously, strains mutate and change. If we need a booster, so be it. That's what the science indicates. And the main thing is that it is preventing serious disease, it is preventing hospitalizations, it is preventing death. And that is the goal. That is the entire goal, so that we can all, at some point, resume our normal lives, movement around our communities and our societies and our world. And if we need a booster in three or six or nine months, you know what? We're lucky, we're fortunate that we have the science that is delivering those boosters to keep us healthy.

- Doctor, even though we're seeing vaccinations, obviously, escalate across the country and pick up, we're still seeing the number of COVID cases rise. And I think that's catching some people off-guard, and people are struggling to make sense of it. Help us understand why this is the case and why we're seeing this happen.

HIRAL TIPIRNENI: Well, you know, Arizona is a perfect example of why this is happening. Our governor has been lifting precautions, you know, every day without the data to support it. Just yesterday, he-- or two days ago, he lifted all of the mandates for schools to have masks for students and teachers. That was not based in data. That was a random, politically-based decision. You know, he has made multiple decisions like that.

We know in places like Texas and other states that they have entirely lifted all of their mitigation strategies. That is incredibly short-sighted. It is dangerous. It is reckless. We are not at that place yet where we can all sort of throw caution to the wind. Right now, we are close, but we are not there. And until we get to that point where we truly have herd immunity and we know that we've eradicated this virus, we all have to do our part. And that means continuing to wear masks, keeping these mandates in place, making sure everybody's getting vaccinated, still being mindful of large gatherings.

What we each do is going to have an impact on the longstanding outcome. And it is too early for us to claim victory. We need to not drop the ball, so to speak, not to fumble it at the two-yard line. We've worked hard to get to this point. Everybody's sacrificed so much. And the science is getting us there. So everybody needs to just hold on a little bit longer, keep doing what we know is working, and help us all get to that finish line safely.

- You mentioned Texas and, you know, their getting rid of the mask issues and things that protect people. What do we know about the number of cases there, though? Has it started to go up, or has it plateaued? Has it flattened, or has it dropped?

HIRAL TIPIRNENI: Well, what we know is that it's a matter of making sure that, you know, across the board, people understand what is safe and what is not, because also what the message you send when you lift those mandates is the message you're sending is we're out of this, we're safe, we're done. That also impacts the likelihood of everybody who needs a vaccine in necessarily getting a vaccine. I can tell you, in Arizona, there is a large percentage of our population that is reluctant to get the vaccine because they think it's really either not a real concern for them or they think it's been fully eradicated because our governor, because these legislative actions are being taken-- are being undertaken.

You know, they lifted all the mask requirements for businesses. So if you go into businesses and you go into schools and you see all of what looks like normal life, you're inclined to think that somehow this pandemic is behind us. And that is not the case. So I think it sends a very dangerous message. And until we have zero cases and zero deaths, we haven't reached that finish line.

- Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, emergency medicine physician based in Arizona, as always, thanks so much for joining us here at Yahoo Finance. And we look forward to having you back again.