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Studies claim Pfizer vaccine is less effective after a few months

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Dr. Payal Patel, Infectious Diseases Physician, University of Michigan, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. The latest data on the Pfizer vaccine is showing that immunity protection diminishes after only two months, reaching as low as 20% after only four months. And this is according to the latest study. And for this, we want to bring in Dr. Payal Patel, infectious diseases physician at the University of Michigan. Thank you for joining us here. Can you break down this latest data and what that means for anybody who's gotten the Pfizer vaccine already?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, I think this is a classic "don't judge a book by its cover" and "don't judge a scientific article by its title." So if you think about the vaccines and what they were actually intended to do, they were intended to prevent hospitalization and prevent death. And even in this study, they, again, saw that six months out, the vaccine was 96% effective against preventing hospitalization and death. And so, then, the scientists really get into understanding a little bit more. But what really matters to us at the end of the day is that the vaccines are working and are preventing hospitalization and death.

JARED BLIKRE: And there's been a lot of talk about the efficacy of booster shots. Dr. Anthony Fauci was saying the other day that they're studying mixing and matching different vaccines with respect to the booster shots. What is your understanding of how these studies are progressing here?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, that's a great question. So the more studies that come out, the more we understand of who needs booster shots and when they need booster shots. And we know so far that the elderly people with an immunocompromised situation, they probably are not going to get the full benefits of a vaccine because of their immune system of the first two, so they do need that third dose sooner. So those are the folks that are out getting the boosters right now.

This study actually helps us understand even further that if you're a kind of a healthy ish 30, 40-year-old, you may be able to wait a little bit before you get your booster. And the mixing and matching is just going to make it easier for you when you do get your booster to go ahead and get-- if you got the Pfizer, is it OK to get the Moderna? If you got the Moderna, is it OK to get the Pfizer?

JARED BLIKRE: And what about the fact that we're facing the fall and then winter weather? The weather is going to be colder. People are going to be spending more time indoors. The outdoor dining options, at least here in New York City, not going to be as attractive. What should people be doing in preparation for this?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, you know, you think about this winter and where we were last winter, right? We've come, like, such a long way. And I think that people do feel a little bit differently, especially if they're vaccinated. I would say one thing to remember is, if you're at all worried around people that you don't know their vaccination status, around a lot of people, remembering that some of those public health measures continue to work well, so thinking about masking and all of those things when you're in a crowded situation.

Again, the more people that we get vaccinated at a community level, it's going to be safer and safer to do some of the things that we haven't done for two winters, and remembering that masking, washing hands, social distancing don't just help for COVID-19, but they also help with flu. And again, the flu vaccine is really important. And I would recommend the listeners and viewers of the program to go get the flu vaccine this year as well.

JARED BLIKRE: So now we need another vaccine. I understand what you're saying. As people return to the office and return to the school, vaccine mandates are front and center, at least providing a little bit of clarity. I was talking about one study yesterday that came across my desk, saying that hospital workers and people in that field are largely applying and-- excuse me-- abiding by these vaccine mandates. And very few people are quitting as a result. So, take this into other industries. Where do you see the current state of vaccine mandates and their effects on the population at large?

PAYAL PATEL: Yeah, definitely great question. You know, there was a huge swath of people that were really excited about getting the vaccine and went and got it before, you know, really, you needed to push them to go get it. I was definitely one of those people. And then there's a lot of people who are kind of apathetic. You know, if something isn't pushing them perhaps to go for it, then they may not go for it. But they don't have any true, you know, innate reason that they don't want to get the vaccine. And for that population, the vaccine mandates are actually-- we're seeing that that's helping in all sorts of industries.

At the same time, remembering that the more people around you, whether that's a school, a hospital, whether you work at Google, anywhere, the more people around you that are vaccinated, that space becomes safer. So it really makes a lot of sense for a company to implement a vaccine mandate to protect their employees and keep people working.

JARED BLIKRE: Well, we thank you for joining us here today. Dr. Payal Patel, infectious diseases physician at the University of Michigan.