(KRON) — Bay Area medical experts are seeing early signs that COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise again. They are encouraging masking, testing and vaccines to prevent the spread during the current resurgence. Dr. Abraar Karan on from Stanford Health Care joined KRON4’s Pam Moore and Vicki Liviakis to discuss the current state of affairs in relation to the virus.

Coronavirus cases rising again

“As cases are rising, this is, again, the time to focus in on where spread is most likely to happen, a crowded public transit where people are packed in together,” Dr. Abraar said. “You know, that was one of the most recent areas that was sort of nixed by a judge, not by a public health official, and was really against the recommendation of the CDC, right?”

Protecting vulnerable populations

Dr. Karan said we’re in a better place in relation to the virus than we have been in the past.

“I agree that on the clinical side, we have better tools, we have antivirals, we better understand this virus than we did previously although there’s still a lot to learn. From the public health standpoint, I can say that our most vulnerable populations don’t have all the tools. They don’t have all the means that protect people that are well connected to the health care system have. And frankly, if we’re not all protected, then we all remain vulnerable.”

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How the vaccines are working

The doctor also weighed in on the current state of vaccines.

“It is true that we’re better off now than we were early in 2020: we have more data on how to treat patients, we have more ways to keep people alive, we have excellent vaccines, which everyone should get vaccinated, everyone should get boosted; we have a long ways to go on boosting still,” he said.

The possibility of a new variant

Dr. Karan also discussed virus’ ability to mutate and how a new variant could impact the current vaccines.

“We’ve seen now, the coronavirus, it mutates rapidly. They’re spread all over the world. Many people globally have not been vaccinated. We’re seeing new variants popping up every few months. Many of these have been very transmissible, so they transmit more easily than the previous variant. Aside from delta, we haven’t seen that they’re more virulent, meaning causing more severe disease, but that doesn’t mean that that’s not possible or that that won’t happen later this year,” he said.

Could universal vaccines make a difference?

Dr. Karan was hopeful for the prospect of a universal vaccine.

“We’re hoping for that, and certainly pharmaceutical companies are working on this, as doctors have been pointing out we need Congress to really move forward on funding, right? So that we can secure the best antivirals, secure the best  vaccines both in the U.S. and for people abroad,” he said.