Dr. Alok Patel on COVID-19 surge: ‘We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of cases’

ABC News’ Linsey Davis and ABC News medical contributor Dr. Alok Patel talk about the FDA’s review of COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 and under, as well as whether to be concerned about monkeypox.
4:29 | 05/24/22

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Transcript for Dr. Alok Patel on COVID-19 surge: ‘We’re seeing an unprecedented amount of cases’
- ABC News Medical Contributor and Stanford Children's Health Pediatrician, Dr. Alok Patel. And, Doctor, we just heard you in Stephanie's piece there. Now we'd like to just ask to flesh out a little more advice for parents with little ones. Thank you so much for joining us. So why do young children need the three-dose regimen? - Well, Linsey, simply put, children need a three-dose regimen just to make sure that they have the highest amount of antibody protection at a time when we're seeing an unprecedented amount of cases given what we've seen in the last few months. Now, if we look at previous vaccines where those first two-dose series were done, that was pre-Omicron. So things have completely changed. We want to make sure that children have the best protection they have to prevent those severe illnesses and hospitalization. That's what the real metric is. But then also what parents need to understand as well is that in order for any of this to get approved, safety has to be a front and center priority. That's what we're all looking for right now. LINSEY DAVIS: And for parents eager to vaccinate their little ones, we heard potentially a June, July timeline. Is that your thought as far as when these vaccines could be available? - It is. That's what it's looking like as of today. We're waiting to see what the final agenda will be, Linsey, for those FDA meetings in June. But it looks like in mid-June, the FDA will be meeting to talk about both the Pfizer shot and the Moderna shot-- which, remember, that's only two doses-- to look to see what the decisions will be. So hopefully parents have an option by the end of June if not early July. LINSEY DAVIS: And many parents are nervously watching the current surge in cases and their summer travel plans. What's your advice for those parents who want to take the trip but they haven't been able to get the shots yet for their children? - Well, the first thing I'll say to all those parents is, I get it. As someone with a very young baby, I totally understand. One thing about COVID-19 is it can absolutely derail entire life plans aside from causing that burdensome illness as well. So with parents, especially with these young children, layer protection is still everything. BA.2.12.1 is nearly as contagious as measles, which is one of the most contagious respiratory viruses we've ever seen. Now maybe some younger kids may not be able to tolerate a mask, but you have to augment all your other strategies around that. It's only about two more months before we get a vaccine to those kids, especially those who are high risk. Parents just have to do everything they can to hang on, which I know is asking a lot given the fact that parents of children of this age group feel so neglected right now. But we're almost there. - Almost there, and we've learned that the vaccines lose their strength in adults over time. Many are advised to get those booster shots. Will kids need boosters as well? - I think it's too early to tell what we're really going to need in fall regarding kids, Linsey. But you mentioned earlier why we need a three-dose shot for kids, at least with Pfizer. I think that's part of it is not only do we have Omicron, but we want to make sure that we're amping up that level of antibodies so it's a sufficient degree so that they not only provide a very quality immune response, but that it's durable. We'll have to wait and see what happens with Moderna, who is expected to submit data for a third dose as well. I think parents on either track should expect to give their kids three doses. - And changing gears now to monkeypox-- as you know, President Biden has been addressing concerns while on his trip in Asia. And it seems like we're hearing more about possible US cases daily. Give our viewers a sense of exactly what is monkeypox? And do we need to be concerned about yet another disease outbreak? - Well, everyone should know that we are learning about this in real-time as everyone else. The vast overwhelming majority of US physicians will never see a case of monkeypox. Now, monkeypox is in the same viral family as smallpox, which we eradicated from planet Earth because of vaccines. Now, because of this, we've not been vaccinating the youngest population. So a virus that's related to smallpox, like monkeypox, may be able to start to impact more humans. Now, what's remarkable about this specific outbreak, Linsey, is that monkeypox is now going to countries where it's not endemic, meaning where it's not usually found. That's what's causing some alarms right now. Now, based on decades of research from scientists and data that we know, it's not easily transmissible from human to human. So what scientists are looking at right now is, is it human behavior that's causing the outbreak in about 20 countries with five suspected cases in the United States? Or is it something that's changed regarding the virus? And scientists don't suspect that it's the latter. So long story short, the general public need not panic, but pay attention to what's happening right now in headlines, and pay attention to local guidance, especially if there's anyone that you suspect may be infected. - Dr. Alok Patel, always so helpful to have you on the show. Thanks so much. - Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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