By the editorial team
UCSF Magazine

Winter 2022

Favourite book? One is Gatsby the magnificent. I reread it recently and it reminded me that the rich will always do well in times of hardship, even in a pandemic, but the poor and disenfranchised always suffer. Photo: Steve Babuljak

Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH, infectious disease expert and professor of medicine, has been a vocal voice for science during the coronavirus pandemic.


COVID has put infectious disease specialists in the spotlight. How was it ?

I am happy to be able to disseminate the information but do not like the attention it received during such a politicized pandemic. For example, I wrote early on about the importance of face masks, which made me angry on the right. I have now written on the exit ramps for restrictions like masks which seems to make the left unhappy. I can’t wait to get back to my day job!

What is the biggest public health lesson in a pandemic?

You can develop a very effective tool that could effectively end the pandemic – vaccines – but that is not enough. The politicization of this pandemic worries me that the United States is not prepared for the next one.

What is the most persistent misconception about COVID?

I believe we have created a false expectation that the immunity of the vaccine is impenetrable. Vaccines actually do what they were designed to do: prevent serious illness. Because antibodies decrease over time, the ability of vaccines to prevent disease transmission decreases. However, the immunity of T and B cells continues to prevent severe disease among most groups.

What is your biggest regret from the pandemic – and your biggest success?

My biggest regret is to think that India had more immunity than it had when it opened in February 2021. Like others, I was lulled into complacency before the delta variant was released. becomes so great. Three of my relatives in India died during the terrible second wave. In terms of success, I have written many op-eds on the importance and strategies of reopening schools, the first after the provision of vaccines for teachers. I hope I have contributed to this dialogue in the United States

What are you most optimistic about for 2022?

That we can keep the virus under control in the United States once it becomes endemic. I am also optimistic about the vaccination of children and the development of targeted oral antivirals.