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COVID-19 surge: UCSF doctor suggests new coronavirus vaccine may be needed as Bay Area grapples with new omicron variants

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The nation is battling the latest wave of COVID-19 cases and new data shows the Bay Area is getting hit harder than other areas of the state.

However, when talking about COVID news, we’re used to hearing troubling information. Despite the latest wave, there is some good news.

UCSF’s Dr. Monica Gandhi says hospitalizations are only slightly seeing an uptick if not remaining stable throughout the Bay Area even though cases are going up.

“What is happening is that cases go up, but our hospitalizations are staying low,” Dr. Gandhi said. “That was actually true with the vaccinated with omicron BA.1 and Delta, but now it’s everyone because there’s been so much natural immunity.”

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But there is some tough news. Nine of the top ten counties in California with the highest COVID infection rates are in the Bay Area, according to state data.

San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Cruz are the top three on the list.

Over the past two years, working from home, health mandates and other protections have kept cases lower than most places.

But, UCSF’s Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says that has now allowed for infection to spread as people return to normal with overall lower natural immunity.

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“Everyone’s tired of the pandemic and we wanted to recapture some of the missed opportunities we had during the pandemic by meeting people, etc,” Dr. Chin-Hong said. “But make no mistake about it, there’s a lot of COVID out there right now.”

So how can we protect ourselves?

Dr. Chin-Hong says it’s best to keep your COVID smarts about you, get boosted and mask indoors if concerned about serious infection. But he thinks a bigger measure may be needed.

“I think we do need a new vaccine because the virus has evolved very much since the original vaccines which were based on the original variant,” Dr. Chin-Hong said. “But now, if you want to prevent infection, we may need to have a new vaccine.”

Thankfully in the short term, Dr. Gandhi thinks cases should normalize soon.

“I think I would say the cases, hopefully at least the models I saw from UCSF, will peak in two weeks and then come down by end of May,” Dr. Gandhi said. “So, hopefully, we are looking at a better summer.”

That would be good news for all.

VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine

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