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Utilizing stadiums for mass vaccination would be 'a very thoughtful approach': Doctor

Dr. Manish Garg, Emergency Medicine Physician & Co-Founder of World Academic Council of Emergency Medicine, joins Yahoo Finance's Kristin Myers to break down the latest coronavirus developments.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: The coronavirus pandemic has now swelled to roughly 22.7 million people, with a death toll that has risen to 378,000. I want to bring on Dr. Manish Garg, Emergency Medicine Physician and Co-Founder of World Academic Council of Emergency Medicine. Doctor, it's always great to have you here with us.

I want to start with the vaccination piece. We're under where public health officials say we want to be and where we need to be, as well, to reach some of these deadlines for herd immunity by the spring. We hear about athletic stadiums being used as really large vaccination centers. I'm wondering what you make of that idea and if the administration should really pick that up to get us to where we need to be, in terms of vaccinating the American public?

DR. MANISH GARG: Well first, I want to say, Kristin, it's wonderful to see you. Again, happy new year. The opinions expressed here are my own. Yes, we've crossed the 375,000 death rate for the country. The vaccination strategy that we have right now is not going exactly as public health officials would like. If you look at the CDC COVID data tracker, the total doses that were distributed of the vaccine are over 25 million, but we've only been able to get just under nine million people the first dose of the vaccine.

So we do believe that it would be very important to get vaccines in the arms of our people. That's an important strategy that goes with the overall collective strategy that we have right now. So I think that utilizing stadiums would be a very thoughtful approach. Again, it's outdoors, typically, for those stadiums. And even if it's an indoor stadium, it tends to be a very large space. And if folks are wearing masks and they're physically distancing and they're hand washing, these are all strategies that will continue to be beneficial.

The real goal is to try to get to herd immunity. So in order to do that, we probably-- you're talking the vaccine's about 90% to 95% effective, you probably need to get ideally about 80% of the folks vaccinated. So we know we have a long way to go to get there, and right now, it's not going at the pace we wish.

KRISTIN MYERS: Now Dr. Garg, I've been seeing a lot of difference of opinion when it comes to holding back that second dose. President-elect Biden has said that we're going to be vaccinating everyone-- not holding back that second dose, at all. And then I've seen some folks online-- Twitter doctors, perhaps, saying, you know, this does change the efficacy rate if you do hold back that second dose by longer than three months.

So I'm wondering if we need to keep plugging forward with this first dose then the second dose, or if we need to just vaccinate as many people as possible with that first dose and wait for that second dose later.

DR. MANISH GARG: This is a fantastic question. I think the real issue here is we need to get all of the vaccines into our American people. And the real challenge that we've had is it's not happening at the rate that we want it. And so consequently, if we employ a strategy where we vaccinate everybody early and we run off of the three weeks for the Pfizer vaccine and the four weeks for the Moderna vaccine for their second dose, then you're not exactly following the program that was established initially.

KRISTIN MYERS: Right.

DR. MANISH GARG: And so from a science standpoint, we get worried that you know it's not going to be as effective. If we were to vaccinate everybody and then you know, they say that you could potentially have up to 90 days to get an additional vaccine if you got sick after that first vaccine. So it's kind of interesting. They've kind of given some caveats and some nuance, but it's a pure numbers thing.

So if you look at the models that at least I've read and I've spoken to some of my colleagues that are experts in this-- both ways provide some potential positivity, but it's all about the human factors. It's all about how we do this--

KRISTIN MYERS: Absolutely.

DR. MANISH GARG: --to try to make sure we can get the most people covered.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, sorry to cut you off there. Unfortunately, we have just run out of time. Dr. Manish Garg, Emergency Medicine Physician. Always great to have you with us. Thanks for joining us today.