COVID will be with us for the next few years, says the chairman of UCSF Medicine: NPR

COVID will be with us for the next few years, says the chairman of UCSF Medicine: NPR

Michel Martin of MediaFrolic speaks to Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chairman of the UCSF medical faculty, on the “new normal” as COVID-19 continues to spread.


We will start today by thinking about what the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could be. In the United States alone, the pandemic has claimed more than 700,000 lives. It changed our daily activities and had a lasting impact on the economy. In some areas the cases are still ticking upwards.

But as we adjust to the new routines of distancing, masking, and vaccination, many people have wondered what this new normal will be like. Let us turn our attention to this. For this we have Dr. Called Robert Wachter for his thoughts and expertise on the subject. Dr. Wachter is the chairman of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and he’s with us now.

Welcome, Dr. Guardian. Thank you for joining us.

ROBERT WACHTER: It’s my pleasure. Thanks very much.

MARTIN: So here we are, well into our second year of this pandemic. And there’s no nationwide spike, but COVID-19 is still spreading. It affects daily activities. How should we think about it? I mean, I think some people say it will be. This is the new normal.

GUARD: Yes. I think I’m increasingly in that boat. And to be clear, I don’t think that’s a good new normal. I would love to be in a place where COVID has receded as part of our lives and we were back in 2019. But I think it is becoming increasingly clear that this is unlikely to happen, that this will be our foreseeable future. And we’re going to be on this roller coaster ride where the falls rise, then they fall, and then they rise again.

And so my thinking has changed a bit in the last few months. I – I’ve been very, very conservative for the past year and a half. I still don’t want to get COVID. I still worry about getting COVID for a long time when you do. But if COVID will be with us for the next few years and maybe forever, at least my own mindset is if I don’t do it now and am fully vaccinated and got my booster, I feel like I would say to myself, OK, I won’t do that next year, the year after. The conditions cannot be so different.

And so I wouldn’t have done it six months or a year ago to visit my elderly parents in Florida or hold a conference in person in San Francisco where everyone is masked and vaccinated. And today it feels like we’re going to forego this activity and some of the things that bring us joy in life forever? Forever is a long time. But I think for the next, at least several years, COVID will stay here.

MARTIN: How do you calculate your personal risk today? I mean, how should we consider that individually?

WACHTER: For me, part of my reckoning six months ago was that it was going to get much, much, much better. Let’s crouch and wait for the cavalry. What has changed about that has actually been two things in the last six or eight months. One of them is the Delta variant, which does its job twice as well as the old virus. And the second is the fact that it looks like 30 or 40% of Americans won’t get the vaccine which I still find baffling but seems to be a fact of life.

So personally, what I do – first, as I said, fully vaccinated and I – and get a refresher. And I think that’s very important. I think there is pretty good evidence that the vaccine is becoming less effective. And if you’re eligible, be sure to get the booster. So I feel as well protected as possible. I’m going to be going to an indoor restaurant with friends in San Francisco now. I think twice about it. But as long as the cases here are relatively minor, and they are, I am ready to do so. I am ready to get on a plane and go on important business or personal occasions.

I’m outside – I feel like things are pretty safe. I don’t wear a mask outside when walking the dog. And two days ago I was playing poker with a group of eight friends, all in our 60s, all fully vaccinated, all vaccinated, no masks. I wouldn’t have done that a few months ago. But it was that topic, that is, if I don’t do it now, I’m probably making a cognitive statement that I won’t do it forever. And I enjoy it and I’ve lost money again. But it felt like something that – it was time to get involved again. Now, if the falls are skyrocketing again, and it could be, I’ll probably reconsider these things. But there I am right now.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, it’s obvious – some of the precautions people take regarding COVID are very controversial for reasons we could all discuss. But I’m just wondering whether you have a feeling for which COVID precautions you think should expire and which ones, in your opinion, should perhaps be continued? Or is that going to be one of those things that really have to be from place to place, from situation to situation?

GUARD: Yes. It is likely not just place by place, but also your personal risk tolerance and your own personal risk. We’re all going to have to deal with these things. But I believe that in my own opinion and that of most epidemiologists and public health experts, we are now in a mode that, given the delta and the percentage of people who remain unvaccinated, we have to make calculations about how we are like that keeping as safe as possible while we enjoy life realizing that the squatting stage that waits for this to be over must now move to a different mindset where COVID is likely to be with us for years to come and maybe forever?

MARTIN: Dr. Robert Wachter is the chairman of the medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Wachter, thank you very much for talking to us.

GUARD: I’m happy, Michel. Thanks very much.

Copyright © 2021 MediaFrolic. All rights reserved. For more information, see the Terms of Use and Permissions pages on our website at

MediaFrolic transcripts are created by Verb8tm, Inc., an MediaFrolic contractor, on a deadline basis and created using a proprietary transcription process developed with MediaFrolic. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of MediaFrolic programming is the audio recording.

Source link


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin
Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

Related Posts

Enter our vacation Giveaway to

Las Vegas!

Everyone wins a prize!