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Pfizer says vaccine is 90.7% effective in kids aged 5 to 11: BBG

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Dr. Calvin Sun, The Monsoon Diaries Founder & CEO, Clinical Assistant Professor and Attending Physician in Emergency Medicine in NYC, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

- Welcome back. The CDC has cleared booster shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccines giving people now the freedom to mix and match any of the three vaccines approved for use here in the US. Now that means at least another 50 million more Americans are eligible for a booster shot.

Joining us now is Dr. Calvin Sun, founder and CEO of the Monsoon Diaries, also a clinical assistant professor and attending physician in emergency medicine here in New York City. Dr. Sun, always good to see you. Let's just try to make things less confusing for folks hearing this news right now. Who actually is eligible for these booster shots and how should they approach mixing and matching?

DR. CALVIN SUN: How do you define eligibility? Technically, these are recommendations. So if you want to go to a drugstore right now and get a booster shot, no one's going to arrest you, no one's going to say no, unless they're worried about their liability. Really, anyone can go to a drugstore and say, I never gotten a booster, lie, and get a booster shot for the sake of protecting their kids or loved ones. But the recommendations as it stands right now is that you shouldn't get a booster unless it's been at least six to eight months since your last booster if it's an mRNA vaccine, a Pfizer or Moderna, or two months since the Johnson & Johnson.

If you would like to mix and match, what they're saying is that there's no demonstrated harm by those who already have mixed and matched from the existing data. If you want to take that chance, that's on you. It's a personal decision. But given the chance of getting infected with COVID, do you want to wait to soon, wait too long? If you wait long enough, six to eight months, eight compared to six, you will have a longer lasting protection as opposed to getting your booster shot three weeks later, one month later. The longer you wait, the longer the lasting immunity and protection is.

But the irony is if you wait too long, that gives you a higher window of getting reinfected. Therefore, it's a complicated decision and it's a personal one based on your risk tolerance and your exposure. So for myself, I've got the third booster two weeks ago, Pfizer, because I work in a high risk occupation, an ER doctor, constantly traveling as well. So therefore, that I've decided with my age range and my-- you know, I have no medical history, to get the third booster based on my risk factors because I'm exposed to positive COVID patients every day in my work.

- Well, congratulations to you on getting that third booster shot. I think Alexis and you both hit it on the head because there is so much confusion and it can be complicated to make the right decision. And there has been so much apathy towards even getting a first shot in this country. The federal government has tried really hard to push that vaccine, you know, mandate on companies and to get people to inoculate themselves. But do you think it's going to be easy to get that third shot in some cases into people's arms?

DR. CALVIN SUN: It really depends on where you're talking-- who you're talking to, where in the country you're talking to, and the context in which there you're talking to. We assume that there's so many people against the vaccine on the surface but as I had said in my program two to three months ago, we had plenty of so and so anti-vaxxers come into my emergency rooms. And thank goodness or patient privacy laws, they got vaccinated and then went straight back out telling their friends they never got vaccinated. So there are people like those.

The messaging is coming out where enough time has passed where people can look back, and it's been a year. More people are still dying from COVID than people who are getting harmed at all from the vaccine. It's not 100% and it's not 0%. You're never going to get black and white in medicine, in health, but it's the overwhelming odds that are working against you if you're unvaccinated during the middle of a pandemic.

So people who are over 65 immunocompromised, soon kids under 12, these are the people who are-- the virus, especially the variants, are having a field day infecting because they don't have an adequate protection of those who are fully vaccinated without a medical history and who are not immunocompromised.

- Yeah, doctor to bounce off that, we heard from Pfizer, good news there, they said their COVID shot is 90.7% effective against symptomatic cases in kids 5 to 11. I know next week the FDA is going to take up whether or not to approve that vaccine for children in that age range. What's the timeline like? When do you think we might expect younger children to be able to get at least the Pfizer vaccine?

DR. CALVIN SUN: Pretty soon, we hope. But, again, I'm not very good in the business of predicting things. But we had just talked about stocks and, you know, investing when-- we look at trends, we don't look at a single point in time like, this is the time to buy now. We look at overall trends. What are you betting on? And right now, we're betting on the data that everything's 90 plus percent after-- I think for adults it's 97% if you get the third boost of Pfizer.

So, you know, 99.99% of people who are fully vaccinated do not end up in the hospital or die. It's not 100% so if you want to bet on that 0.01%, you're risking it. You're betting against the house. But if you want to bet on the 99.99% so far-- and it's been day and day and day of data for a whole year-- the trends are moving towards hopefully sooner than later, hopefully by around Halloween time, Thanksgiving. So you would have as normal as possible of a holiday season pre-pandemic.

- And the US is opening up next month to international travel. What impact do you think that has on case counts? Should we be worried at all because we are seeing a rise in international cases in the UK, in Germany, in New Zealand, for example.

DR. CALVIN SUN: So I had the pleasure and privilege for having traveled every month in the past six months since last May, June internationally. I just got back from international trip two weeks ago. I've taken over 400, 500 people with me all of whom tested negative for COVID even after the trip. At this point, it's been almost two to three weeks since my last trip. It's not going to be anything, you know, COVID related at this point.

So I've learned from other countries is they're very strict on only taking vaccinated people of a certain type of vaccine and getting a negative PCR before you board and when you arrive, and multiple PCR tests when you're there, let alone getting tested in United States America won't take you back even if you're fully vaccinated as a US citizen, unless you have a negative test before you board. So all those factors in place.

Definitely you can slip through it but you're really minimizing risk now when you're fully vaccinated with a negative COVID test before you travel. And I think with the guidelines in place where the United States of America opening up to international travel, they are requiring fully vaccinated people of a certain type of vaccine that's trusted with good data behind it as well as a negative test.

If they're making US citizens-- like they're forcing us to take a negative test before we board on our flight even when fully vaccinated, I'm pretty confident. But it also depends where they're coming from and whether the people who are guarding these borders before they arrive are actually sticking to the rules and-- you know, you never know. There's a lot of different airports who have different security systems when they come back in. And hopefully, they are abiding by it and, you know, paying attention.

- That was one of the big challenges. Have to stay diligent and not out of the woods yet for sure. Dr. Calvin Sun, thanks so much.