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U.S. sees spike in daily COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations surge

Dr. Marcos Sanchez-Gonzalez, Larkin Health System VP for Research & Academic Affairs, joined Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the spike in COVID-19 cases accross the U.S. and his outlook for Pfizer's vaccine.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: I'm curious just to get your thoughts on the vaccine developments that we've gotten over the past two weeks when it comes to Pfizer and also what Moderna has in its pipeline. How encouraged are you by what we've heard?

MARCOS SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ: Well, one of the things that they're being reporting in terms of the vaccines are the effectiveness of them or the efficacy. So efficacy basically, it's to take an example, we have 20,000 volunteers. And let's say 100 of them, they get sick. How many of those were not vaccinated versus how many were vaccinated?

So we're right now for every 100, pretty much, only five people under the vaccine get sick. So these numbers are very encouraging. And if we think about the considerations for efficacy, FDA is pretty much going to move forward anytime we see 60% or 50% of efficacies. So I think they are going to look into the possibility to accelerating these process.

The good news, as well, is that throughout these months, we have been learning better about the disease. We're managing it well. Patients are not spending that much time in the hospital anymore, which is great. Vaccines, they don't really cure disease. They are part of the arsenal of strategy. So states, they have to focus their efforts in actual programs to basically eradicate at some point or decrease infectious rate that that's really, really what's going to make the difference in terms of the vaccination in public health.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Doctor, I do want to ask you about managing the disease. But before we go there, this vaccine, have you been contacted? Our medical center's being contacted by the federal government as to how the regimen will look like when it's time to inoculate all of us.

I mean, I remember as a kid getting the big-- it's a big gun-like thing. And we all lined up. And, yet, I think-- I don't remember what it was. It was first grade. But is it going to be like that? We're all going to be reporting to centers somewhere in our cities to get shots?

MARCOS SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ: That's a very good question. Right now since, as we see the different policies in different states, there's not anything standard rights. I think we're going to spend some time becoming-- or starting from January and February in new administration if that's the case to establish some standard rights procedures to make that happens. Who's going to have the priority?

There's going to health care workers. So those are more, mostly exposed. We don't have that answer right now. Many of the companies and research endeavors have been contact or medical centers to test new and emerging treatments. Some of them, they involve anti-inflammation. Some of them, they want evaluations. Some of them also have to do with the vaccine. But we don't have an actual clear idea of how this is going to be implemented, which it could fall in the responsibility of the states, or it could be something more standard rights. We don't know for sure.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And very quickly on managing the disease, a buddy of mine is at University Hospitals in Cleveland getting remdesivir and, yet, and has COVID. And, yet, we heard from the WHO today, remdesivir does no good. So what are we doing that manages the disease that improves outcomes for people?

MARCOS SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ: Well, right now, we understand better how it spread. We know that there's a nine-day window from the time you develop the first symptoms that you basically are shedding the virus up. People that is asymptomatic can also have the possibility to spread the virus out for at least three to four days.

So we're more incentivating policies revolving nasal hygiene, nasal sprays to basically decrease the viral load. We're also looking into anti-inflammation more aggressive than at the beginning of the pandemic. And we do have more cases. But the amount of people in hospitals, at least, in the South Miami or South Florida area with COVID is not that high, which is we are good news, meaning that we have more people, but they are asymptomatic.

And also, the centers that at the beginning have no clue. We were fighting-- you know, we're basically in the dark room. I guess the enemy we didn't know-- medical research has advanced tremendously from March if you do a search in terms of the medical literature. From March, we were roughly up 20,000 references. Now, we have almost 80,000 references of reports that are helping physicians and clinical facilities to manage this is better on patients.

SEANA SMITH: The other part of the story that we haven't talked as much about is what's happening to all the medical needs that aren't being met because of COVID. What kind of health complications are you seeing as a result of this? And how big of a crisis is this almost within the COVID crisis?

MARCOS SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ: Well, the latest report suggests that COVID has become the third leading cause of death. We still have, second, cancers, and number one, cardiovascular disease. I mean, it's true that both populations-- they're most likely to have complications from COVID-19.

In terms of chronic conditions management, early in the disease in the first basically peak of it, we did very poorly in terms of managing those patients. There was many cancellations. Now, we have telehealth, telemedicine. We have new and more specific guidelines state-wide that has been helping us to get those patients back on track.

So I'm not sure if we're just right there in terms of getting those patients back on track that they're on their medications or their treatments and so on. But I believe-- I'm very hopeful. I have the faith that if this gets into another level, we're going to be able to provide the patient the service they need despite having a third at this point wave of cases.