Dr. Shikha Jain, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago, joined Yahoo Finance Live to break down her thoughts on the COVID-19 vaccine and the delta variant of COVID-19.
- The World Health Organization out with a pretty serious warning earlier today, saying that the Delta variant, that very dangerous variant, is now becoming the dominant variant globally. So we want to talk about what this means not only for the US, but of course what this means abroad. And for that, we want to bring in Dr. Shikha Jain. She is assistant professor of medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
And Dr. Jain, it's great to have you back on Yahoo Finance. So we get this warning from the WHO. We've been talking to numerous health officials, numerous doctors over the last several days about the danger-- how dangerous this Delta variant is. But what does it mean for the potential for future outbreaks here in the US?
SHIKHA JAIN: So you're absolutely right, the Delta variant is something that has been very concerning and it's been all over the news because it is extremely contagious. So it's much more contagious than the variants we were seeing previously. And the concern is, while it's great that people in the US are getting vaccinated, we're getting our numbers up, we still have pockets of individuals across the country who are not interested in getting vaccinated, and right now, we also have children who are not able to get vaccinated because it hasn't been approved for them yet. So there's a lot of opportunities for the Delta variant to spread.
Then if you look outside the US, there's a lot of countries that don't have access to the vaccines yet, or they don't have the ability to distribute it across their country. And so with that concern, what can happen with things like the Delta variant, as they rapidly replicate and they spread to other people, there is a chance for other variants to also develop. And we are a global community. So if other variants develop in other countries, or if they even develop within our own country amongst people who are not vaccinated, where this Delta variant is spreading, there is a concern that, at some point, we might end up with a variant that our vaccines do not cover. So this Delta variant is very concerning not only here in the United States, but really across the world for what it could mean for how well we can control not only this variant, but other variants that may arise due to the contagious nature of this particular variant.
- Hi, doctor. Let's break down what you just said, because the future and the potential for variants that could evade the vaccines is frightening, but at this moment in time, if you are vaccinated, what does that mean for most people if they should be-- come in contact with someone who has the Delta variant?
SHIKHA JAIN: So right now, if you've gotten both of your shots, if you got Moderna or Pfizer and you got both shots, or if you've gotten your one shot of your Johnson & Johnson in the United States, and it's more than two weeks after your last shot, you are considered to be fully vaccinated, and the chance for you getting any sort of COVID variant, a Delta or otherwise, is significantly lower. If you are unvaccinated, there is a very high risk of you contracting COVID-19 if you come in contact with someone who has the virus. So for vaccinated individuals, you can rest assured that you are as safe as you can be, and you should not be overly concerned right now. But if you're not vaccinated, then absolutely, there is a very big concern that you're at high risk for contracting COVID, especially if you come in contact with somebody who has the virus.
- Doctor, we also got the news that Europe is reopening-- reopening travel to US tourists, something I think many Americans have been waiting now for quite some time. What's your reaction to that? Is it too early? Is it something that should have happened right now? What do you think of the timing?
SHIKHA JAIN: So it's really hard to say because I think, right now, it's great that, as I said, in the US, we're getting a lot of people vaccinated. The UK just delayed their reopening. So I think that, when you talk about travel to Europe, you need to really be conscientious of where you're going, and you need to be really conscientious of your vaccine status, and also who you come into contact with if you're traveling abroad and then you're coming back to the United States. I don't necessarily think that it's too early. I think that it's an exciting time as we start to see people living in this new normal, with so many people getting vaccinated.
I am concerned, though, because we do see these Delta variants spreading, and we see a lot of people who are still unvaccinated. So I don't know if the timing is the right timing or not. Only, I guess, we'll be able to tell when we see what happens with surges down the line. But I'm hopeful that the number of people who are getting vaccinated will continue to increase, and this will actually be a really great thing for the global economy.
- Doctor, very quickly, where do we see the Delta variant taking hold at its most in the United States?
SHIKHA JAIN: It's taking hold the most in people who are not vaccinated. So especially in states that don't have a high level of--
- Texas, California? Do we know what the states?
SHIKHA JAIN: So I don't have the numbers exactly off the top of my head to tell you exactly which states are the worst right now with the Delta variant. And also, I think it's important to note all of the COVID that's coming through when people are getting tested positive, they're not all getting tested, whether they have variants or not. So I don't even know how accurate the numbers would be. There's usually a delay in those numbers, as well. So I know that the numbers are going up across those states that are having those lower vaccine numbers, but I don't have the exact numbers on me right now.
- Dr. Shikha Jain, always great to speak with you. Thanks so much for taking the time. We also want to bring our attention to President Biden tweeting just a few moments ago that the US has now surpassed 300 million shots in 150 days. So certainly a milestone to be proud of here in the US.