Doctors explain why US COVID emergency order ending 'makes sense' and what will change

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Doctors explain why US COVID emergency order ending 'makes sense'
UCSF doctors explain why Pres. Joe Biden's decision to end US COVID emergency order 'makes sense' and what will change.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A day that once seemed like it would never come, is finally on the horizon. On Monday, the White House announced that it would end the national COVID emergency in May.

"My initial reaction was that this makes a lot of sense," said Dr. Monica Gandhi.

RELATED: President Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies on May 11

Dr. Gandhi is an infectious disease expert at UCSF.

"We have so much population immunity in the U.S. right now. Basically, 95% of us have antibodies to COVID," she said.

Gandhi says that immunity, which comes from a combination of vaccination and prior infection has enabled the U.S. to make the transition out of the pandemic stage of COVID.

A move, she says, that's come after similar ones in other developed countries.

VIDEO: Why is California's most vulnerable population not up-to-date on COVID vaccinations?

CDC data shows only 49% of nursing home residents are up-to-date on their vaccinations in California, as of late Dec.

"The continent of Europe as advised by the European CDC equivalent went to what's called endemic management on April 27, 2022," Gandhi said.

Gandhi's colleague, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, says that a slower timeline could be the result of other uniquely American factors.

"We don't have a national healthcare system. We don't have a national information system. So, when other countries end their restrictions, everybody still has coverage," he said.

Dr. Chin-Hong says the emergency declarations don't deal solely with public health.

RELATED: COVID still a global emergency but nearing 'inflexion' point, WHO says

He says when they come to end, there will also be financial repercussions too.

"Vaccines are no longer going to be free. A shot of vaccine on the free market is probably going to cost anywhere from $110 to $130," Chin-Hong said.

But despite those potential challenges, both Gandhi and Chin-Hong believe there's reason to be optimistic long term.

"We can't eradicate COVID. We have amazing tools to prevent severe disease. Use these tools, use therapeutics, use vaccines, and celebrate those tools," Gandhi said.

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

Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.


Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live