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COVID: Study finds vaccine prevented tens of thousands of deaths, hospitalizations

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- There is new data on the impact of COVID vaccines and their effectiveness from the University of California, San Francisco. The study was done in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health.

The authors realized the need for more data when it comes to the effectiveness of vaccines. Their findings were impressive but this study maybe actually be underestimating the impacts on public health.

"We know that the vaccine for the individual person and what our study set out to do is to really understand what is the population wide impact of the COVID-19 vaccine in California," said Dr. Nathan Lo with UCSF Infectious Disease Research.

Dr. Lo was one of the researchers who conducted two independent studies looking at the first ten months of vaccinations, comparing those that were vaccinated with those under 12 who weren't eligible for the shot. The study found roughly 1.5 million cases were prevented, along with 72,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths.

"The impact of the vaccinations are almost surely even larger than we estimate and that's for two reasons," said Dr. Lo. "The first is that we don't only look at the the impact from reduced transmission which is quite large, but the second is we only look at the first ten months of vaccination."

While the findings may be an underestimation of the impacts, many in healthcare say it validates the need to get vaccinated. UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong hopes the data and development of new vaccines encourage the unvaccinated to reconsider.

"Unfortunately I think there will be 10%-15% of Americans who are not going to get vaccinated no matter what but I'm still holding out hope," said Dr. Chin-Hong. "The reason why I'm holding out hope is because there are new technologies and vaccines that might address some of that group's concerns."

Monday night, an equity town hall was held online in support of a mask mandate on public transit in the Bay Area. Bart Board President Rebecca Saltzman wrote a letter to public health officers to reinstate the mandate.

"It's very personal for me because I have a 2-year-old daughter and she'll be first in line to be vaccinated so we need to protect the young children that have no protection at this point," wrote Saltzman.

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