With the winter months and holiday season approaching, the Chief Medical Officer with UC San Diego is predicting yet another COVID-19 case surge.
“I went on record about six weeks ago predicting a fifth surge,” said Dr. Christopher Longhurst, MD.
While doctors are predicting a new surge, what’s different this time around is more people are vaccinated which could lessen the impact on hospitals.
“I think it’s inevitable that we’re going to see an increase in cases and case rates this winter. What is not inevitable is that’s going to result in more hospitalizations or death,” Dr. Longhurst said.
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Longhurst says there are several reasons for the expected surge.
First, every winter brings an increase in respiratory viruses. Combine that with holiday gatherings and the now added variable of open borders, and it’s the recipe for an inevitable increase.
He says one way to help contain the cases is to get vaccinated.
“We know that people that are vaccinated are 12-fold less likely to be hospitalized or suffer severe consequences than people that are unvaccinated. So now is the time for that remaining 20% in San Diego and other regions to go get vaccinated,” Longhurst said.
Longhurst said there’s something to be learned from previous case surges.
In 2020, it was mostly the elderly, the 70 to 80 age group that was hospitalized. The demographic changed over a following surge.
“Our most recent surge, the median age was in the 40s and 50s because those are the individuals that have avoided getting vaccinated and they were more likely to be admitted to the hospital,” Longhurst said.
And now the demographic is changing again, with children the most recent group likely to contract the virus, says Longhurst.
“Obviously, they’re not as at high risk for severe consequences, but that doesn’t mean they’re at non-zero risk, and getting children vaccinated will help decrease transmission as well,” Longhurst said.
Dr. Longhurst is urging parents to get eligible children vaccinated.
He’s also reminding everyone that booster shots can help contain future surges and all Californians are now eligible for booster shot.