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East Bay officials address COVID concerns in town hall

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ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) – East Bay Congresswoman Barbara Lee hosted a telephone town hall tonight to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

She invited a panel of doctors and scientists to answer questions about the virus.

Constituents had a chance to phone in their questions – many asked about the COVID-19 vaccine and they got answers from one of the leading scientists behind the vaccine.

“I want to reassure you that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and critical for addressing this virus,” Lee said.

Representative Lee received her first dose of the vaccine on December 19th in hopes everyone will receive it, especially people of color who have suffered the most from the pandemic.

On Thursday night, the East Bay Congresswoman, along with a scientist and doctor from the National Institute of Health, and medical director of the Alameda County Health Care Services hosted a tele-town hall.

Alameda County constituents had many questions about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

So far, both vaccines approved for emergency use requires two doses.

Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett the lead scientist for the coronavirus vaccine research explained it takes 10 or so days for the immune system to be protected after the second shot.

“Those antibody responses are boosted in a way that you can get a higher level of antibody response and also those antibodies start to function to start to kill the coronavirus in a way to neutralize how we call it where we can prevent the coronaviruses from actually getting into cells and starting an infection,” Dr. Corbett said. 

While both vaccines show more than 90 percent to be effective, Dr. Corbett adds there’s still a lot to learn.

“There seems to be some indication that there is some efficacy but because of the way the study is designed we’re not able to say definitively whether that efficacy is number one very true and number two how long it lasts,” Dr. Corbett said. 

Alameda County has more than 64,000 confirmed COVID cases and experiencing the biggest surge since the beginning of the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, January 5th, 442 total are in the hospital, 109 patients are in the ICU — leaving 31.7 percent of ICU beds available for new patients.

A map on the county’s health department’s website shows East Oakland and Hayward with the highest positive cases.

The county expects the state to extend its regional stay at home order indefinitely.

County health officials say when the orders are finally lifted, that decision will be made by the state.

In the meantime, doctors in the call are reminding everyone to follow health guidelines: mask up and social distance until the amount of the coronavirus in the community goes down even after vaccination.

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