Vermont, Dane County Wisconsin, Alameda County California have vaccination rates of over 80%. All have under 80 deaths per 100,000. Mississippi has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country and is at 350 deaths per 100,000. Our Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has been putting out anti-vaccine comments citing studies where his interpretation is faulty. What is worse he then claims he is telling the truth. I have made three open records request of his office over the last year without response concerning studies to support his statements. Sunday’s Oshkosh Northwestern 1/9/22 newspaper had an extensive report by a palliative/hospice physician who stated his patients are mainly not vaccinated.
Scott Gottlieb, Former CDC chief under Trump, said The Covid-19 vaccine should be considered a three dose vaccine. Israel is the first country to provide the 3rd dose, which has made Covid-19 outbreaks almost exclusively a epidemic of the un-vaccinated in Israel. Flu viruses have reproduction rates of 1 to 2 typically. Vaccinating 60% of the population is effective in limiting flu. The Covid-19 Alpha Variant has a reproduction rate of 3 to 4. To control Alpha 80% of the population needs effective immunity. A vaccine that is 95% effective,means 85% of the population needs vaccinated to end the epidemic. Israel achieved that with an 88% vaccination rate and by mid-May new cases dropped to 50 per day from several thousand new cases a day in March.
The Delta Variant appeared in June and daily new cases jumped back to several thousand by early September. There were a number of breakthrough cases. Delta has a much higher reproduction rate and 95% of people need effective immunity. to control Dela. To achieve this with a 95% effective vaccine, 100% needs vaccinated. Thus, while an 88% vaccination rate was high enough to control the Alpha variant, it was not high enough to control the Delta variant. Israel provided a third dose and new cases dropped from several thousand to just over 400 a day. Almost all of these cases are in those folks who did not get vaccinated. Some anti-vax folks posts Israel’s charts of new cases of covid-19 into September. These folks claim the charts show the vaccines don’t work because after achieving 88% vaccination rates numbers skyrocketed. The anti-vax folks, post Israel charts that are cut off sometime in September. They published their posts in October when the charts showed the 3rd vaccine dose had a hug impact on reducing new cases. A half chart is a half truth and these folk’s disinformation kills more people than any serial killer. When looking at any posts, look up the complete charts. The anti-vaccine folks seem to have become a cult. Physicians would almost need to deprogram their patients to convince them to get vaccinated. Unless the patient shows the reference for their beliefs, then physicians can show the patient the complete reference pointing out how they have been deceived by partial information, you will not convince them to be vaccinated.
We have witnessed two anti-parasitic drugs promoted for treating Covid-19, Hydroxychloroquine and Invermectin. There is research to repurpose drugs to treat Covid-19. So far only dexamethasone, an anti inflammatory medication to reduce the bodies immune response after an infection with Covid-19, has cut mortality. Timing and dosage is of extreme importance for dexamethasone. Given too early will harm the patient. Remdesivir, an anti-viral drug, can make Covid-19 less severe but does not reduce mortality. Remdesivir has been approved for Covid-19 treatment in several countries.
The issue for treating viral infections, is that by the time symptoms appear, you have produced and shed billions of viruses. The only viral diseases that have a therapeutic medication approved for their treatment is AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, Herpes, and Influenza A and B. Dexamethasone treats the bodies response to covid-19, not the virus itself. Remdesivir is an anti-viral that is effective in laboratory cells treated with Covid-19, but by the time symptoms appear in patients, it is given too late to reduce mortality, but does reduce the severeness of the disease. It is important to give anti-viral medications when symptoms first appear. Thus any therapeutic for treating Covid-19 or flu is given well after the virus has reproduced. This pretty well defeats the notion that a therapeutic anti-viral medication is the best strategy for dealing with a virus.
There are 9 anti-parasitic drugs, 7 of which in lab settings have some anti-viral effects. There is a push to find medications that can be repurposed to fight viral infections. Existing anti-viral medications in various combinations are the most promising. With any therapeutic for viral infection, the issue is being administered too late as symptoms appear far after the virus has reproduced a billion times. This means like Remdesivir, it will be difficult to reduce mortality from Covid-19 with a therapeutic. I watched a 90 minute podcast of a virologist who spent 17 years infecting respiratory cell cultures with coronal virus and then treating them with anti-viral agents. There were few products that he tested that killed viruses without killing lung cells. Remdesivir was the best.
Treating viruses is far different than treating bacterial infections. With bacteria you are either killing the bacteria or preventing its growth. Viruses use the bodies machinery to reproduce. One way to control viruses is to stop the virus from entering the cell, a second way is to prevent the cells machinery from reproducing the virus. Developing an anti-viral that keeps the cell healthy but stops it from reproducing the virus is the challenge researchers face. Medication, like anti-parasitic drugs, given in concentration high enough to kill viruses are usually toxic to humans. Scientist are concentrating efforts on early treatment by testing a combination of existing anti-viral drugs given when symptoms first appear.
The Holy Grail, for the anti-parasitic drug folks, is some combination of low non-toxic doses of more than one anti-parasitic or an anti-parasitic combined with a low does of another anti-viral compound that is not toxic to respiratory cells. This is sort of making a witches brew. Making a witches brew should be researched as long as the limits of anti-viral therapy is understood. So far studies of anti-parasitic medications as a viral therapeutic have shown mixed results with some studies showing benefits, while other studies do not show any benefit.
The whole emphasis on treating Covid-19 after the infection starts seems sort of like building 40 fire stations to put out fires instead of building one fire station as a backup to fire prevention in our city. Vaccines and strict masking are still the gold standard in dealing with viral infections. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure needs to be updated for a viral pandemic to a ounce of cure is worth a ton of cure.
I support ongoing research into all avenues of anti-viral therapeutics. World wide there are scientists that look at medications that are given to treat a wide variety of conditions to see if there is a reduced incidence of another condition when patients are on that medication. If scientist find similar results from a thousand patients or more, they will ask the group their opinion about doing further research. Scientist may also ask if there are any researchers willing to study these findings. Hundreds of scientist are looking at data to find the next medical holy grail for treating medical conditions. The chance for a break through medication being found this way is low, but not zero. Viragra was being tested for other medical conditions.
It seems the Delta Covid-19 variant and Delta Airlines have had a mid-air collision. Delta increased insurance premiums by $200.00 a month for each employee that has not been vaccinated. Delta reports the total cost of an employee being hospitalized with Covid-19 is $50,000. They did not break down this number. If a person is hospitalized someone needs to be hired to do their job. The hospitalized person will receive sick leave for the duration of their missed work. There are cost far beyond the hospital bill. Insurance companies had been waving co-pays for Covid-19 patients. This is ending. Insurance companies made record profits due to the postponing of elective medical procedures and could well afford to do out of pocket waivers.
Delta reported that recent hospitalized employees have not been fully vaccinated. As companies are paying the cost associated with employees not being vaccinated, more companies are deciding that it is more cost effective to let an employee go than chance paying the costs associated with a hospital stay. These employers will not risk potential long term costs associated with long Covid-19. As these cost come into focus, more companies will require vaccines as part of future employment. Republicans have been opposing vaccine mandates on grounds of personal freedoms. Personal Freedoms have limits, much like freedom of speech, where you are not allowed to yell fire in a crowded theater. Personal freedoms end when you can infect your neighbor, then you have the same responsibility as a health processional not to infect your neighbor. Hospitals and medical offices are under increasingly strict rules to prevent passing a pathogen from a sick patient to another patient in the office. This must be applied to every business setting including any indoor space the public can enter.
There are 195 million Covid-19 cases that have been reported world wild. Assuming this is an under count by 50% to 100%, with 5 variants emerging so far, it means for every 60 to 80 million folks infected, a new dangerous variant emerges. Unfortunately, a public health issue has become politically divisive due to misinformation. Much of the disinformation comes from Russian sources. The Wall Street Journal called out Russian disinformation on the Pfizer Vaccine. If a third of the US population does not get vaccinated, with the Delta Variant taking hold, there is a high probability a second variant will emerge in the US. The Epsilon Variant emerged in Southern California.
Russia’s military added a cyber warfare division to their conventional and nuclear divisions. The purpose of the Russian cyber warfare department is to divide as many western democracies at they can divide. Below is a link to our Spring 2020 Military’s officers magazine Parameters. The opening 25 page commentary details the Russian efforts. Every American needs to read this commentary. The Russians have put out fake information about masking and supported anti-vaccine efforts by posting a lot of disinformation, on mainly conservative websites.
The net results of the Russian efforts are clear. While 10% of Democrats say they will not get the vaccine, 43% of Republicans state they will not get vaccinated. If Delta is at the high end of the calculated reproduction rate, it means you will either get the vaccine or get Delta. Please remember half of the folks that were asymptomatic on the Diamond Princes, had lower lung damage on lung scans. This political divide on a public health issue is disturbing. California reported 94% of their dentist are fully vaccinated. Another report had 96% of Physicians fully vaccinated. When folks do not understand risk factors due to disinformation, they avoid a risk that is 1 in a 100,000 to take on a risk that is 1 in 2. In addition to lung damage, there is significant risk to the heart and kidneys. A loss of smell means neurological damage.
Republicans must understand that an election tipping point is a close state can come from long term Republican Medical Providers, who never voted for Democrats, voted for Democrats in the last election for the first time in their lives because they are so disgusted with seeing the ICU nurses traumatized by having to zip dozens of body bags of nice folks who did not survive Covid-19. When you treat a person for one or two weeks, get to know their families, hear their life stories and they pass, it becomes very traumatic. Please get the vaccine as many nurses will reach a point where one more body bag is one too many. My Mother was a public health nurse in the 1930’s and after her kids were older she returned to nursing, but returned to the ER. She had previously stayed with families whose child did not survive whopping cough. In those cases she was a sort of pediatric hospice nurse. In ER you never built long term relations with families, who then had a love one pass. You did have to break the news of a loved ones death, and it was still traumatic, but not as traumatic as someone you built relationships over two weeks.
I have been a subscriber to Contagion Live since Covid-19 began spreading rapidly in the US. Contagion Live has updates on many contagious pathogens, but a majority of the content is devoted to Covid-10. In addition to articles from scientist across the world, Contagion Live has links to several other similar subscription services, many like Medscape are free. The reproduction rate for the Delta Variant may be as high as 7. This means you may have only two choices, get the vaccine or you will get the Delta Variant. One report said there was evidence that the Delta Variant may cause lung cells to fuse enabling the virus to spread rapidly cell to cell. This may result in permanent lung damage in younger folks. While deaths for patients under 30 are rare, long term lung damage is common. With a reproduction rate of 7 the dream of herd immunity happening this summer may be just that, a dream. The Covid-19 infection rates could see a rebound in late July after the 4th of July holiday weekend. https://www.contagionlive.com/view/cdc-updates-covid-19-delta-variant-to-one-of-concern-
Vermont had under 40 deaths per 100,000, while most rural states have had three times that number. Vermont is located between the early epicenters of the pandemic, Boston and New York. Midwest and southern states had time to prepare as the pandemic started on the coasts. Yet Vermont with a vulnerable elderly population, located between the epicenter of the pandemic with thousands of folks fleeing New York and Boston managed the Pandemic better than any other state.
In Wisconsin we had over 3 times the deaths per 100,000 folks. After comparing the the two states there are some huge contrasts. Wisconsin’s rural areas tend to be much more libertarian. At the county board meetings hundreds of folks spoke about their constitutional rights, the bill of rights and fear of the health officer. County board speakers expressed a fear of public health nurses imposing draconian measures limiting freedom. Noble Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, a champion of libertarian ideals, was clear that rights and freedoms ended with an epidemic where you could infect your neighbor. In these circumstances, you have an absolute obligation and responsibility to protect one another with every measure possible. Conservatives in Wisconsin made the debate all about personal rights and freedoms, making fighting a pandemic, not a policy and public health issue, but a cultural war with what they perceived as an assault on their liberty. When we turn a policy debate into a political debate, we all lose.
In contrast to Wisconsin, Republican Vermont Governor Phil Scott established a Covid-19 war room and pushed public health measures. Vermont, as opposed to its neighbor New Hampshire whose motto is “live free or die” chose not to live free and die. In Vermont you did not have an extreme form of libertarian revolt to Covid-19 public health measures and despite not having the warning time of Wisconsin or Florida had less than a third of the deaths. Vermont set up a Covid-19 war room. Vermont imposed strict reopening standards, which were accepted by it citizens. Vermont has reached 80% of its population having at least one vaccination. Vermont, by hitting Covid-19 public health benchmarks early, moved up reopening early. Vermont treated Covid-19 as a public health issue first relying on sound public health policy. Vermont did not have hundreds of folks attacking long time public health officials at a county board meeting.
Vermont’s economic outcome after Covid-19 is exceptional. Vermont has one of the two lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Vermont is flush with revenue taking advantage of Covid-19 federal government stimulus money and by controlling Covid-19 was able to keep tax revenues stable. As for a Republican Governor in a state with Bernie Sanders as Senator and where Biden won by 35 points, Phil Scott won his election by 40 points. The lesson of Covid-19 for all politicians two fold. First treat a pandemic or any other sudden catastrophic occurrence as a public policy issue, not a cultural issue and you will do well. Second, stop turning policy issues into political battles and you and your constituents will be better off.
Senator Ron Johnson’s has made several bizarre statements about Covid-19 Vaccines. The worst one is about people dying following vaccination. Yes if someone in vaccinated and gets killed in a car accident, that person died following vaccination, but the two are not related.
Senator Johnson has said young healthy folks need not be vaccinated. The Chinese physician that originally posted about the first Covid-19 outbreak was 34 and died from Covid-19. The problem with young healthy adults not getting vaccinated, is they are the folks that are most likely not to wear mask, then get the infection and have an asymptomatic case. These are the folks that become the silent super spreader. The Covid vaccine is 95% effective. In the original trials, 162 folks in the placebo group got infected while 8 in the vaccinated group were infected. These studies did not show folks dying from the vaccine.
Ron Johnson is an accountant. In the past he attacks others by questioning if they understand basic math. Epidemiology focuses on math in the form of a virus’s reproduction rate. If the reproduction rate is 3, as for the original Covid-19 virus, to achieve herd immunity requires 65 percent of folks to develop antibodies to the virus. This can happen through vaccination or prior infection. Since 5% of those who get vaccinated get the infection and many folks who had one infection gets reinfected, over 70% of folks need vaccinations. With the new variants having a reproduction rate of closer to 5 the number jumps to over 80% needing vaccination. If the vaccine is less effective against the variants, (lets say 65% effective) then over 90% of folks 12 and over need vaccination. Moderna just put out a paper indicating a third shot increases protection against the new variants.
Senator Ron Johnson has stated that since he has had the virus, he does not need to be vaccinated. There are ample cases of folks getting Covid-19 a second time. These second time patients will shed viruses when that happens. Senator Johnson is willing to risk infecting other folks when a simple shot can reduce the chance of that happening by 95%.
Senator Ron Johnson praised a physician for administering a anti-viral drug when other physicians refused to do so. The family got a court order to administer the drug. I watch a podcast from a researcher who studied corona virus for years. He began studying before SARS and MERS. He infected cultures of respiratory epithelial cells with the virus and study multiple therapeutics (new medicines) effect on the virus. Often therapeutics given in doses high enough to effect the virus, killed the respiratory cells. Covid-19 patients shed virus for 10 days, the first 4 days they are not symptomatic. Anti viral drugs are only effective early, and given after 10 days do nothing, except for someone who is immune compromised and their body does not contain the virus. The patient mentioned here was on a respirator. At that time an anti-viral drug would no longer help. Consequently, the big issue with therapeutics is unless you administer them before symptoms which would require massive testing of anyone who has contact with a Covid-19 patient, you are giving them late in the course of the infection. Basically, it is easier to prevent a fire than put one out. Senator Johnson is promoting Covid-19 treatment via therapeutics by his senate hearings. Relying on therapeutics is equivalent to needing to build 20 fire stations to put out fires where by preventing the fires you only need one in your town.
Bloomberg news posted an article which on what went wrong with our response to covid19 February3. Ironically, one of their big issues was the lack of a nationally coordinated effort. Much of the failure was states leaving efforts up to the local communities, which are highly fragmented. Our state Republicans want to end the mask mandate and leave it up to local government. That did not work in Kansas where a majority of the counties opted out of the state mandate. Those counties opting out saw an exponential growth in Covid19 as compared to those that did not. I occasionally read articles on three medical sites I subscribe to. All of them promote strong national and international approaches. I find it intolerable that state legislators do not do minimal background reading. If they did there should be no support for leaving Covid19 to local communities. When you talk about new variants a single passenger on a single flight from Europe, Brazil, and South Africa can transport a highly infectious virus and enter on bar and become a super spreader. A virus needs a new home every 10 days. The combination of strict masking and vaccines will control it. Relying on vaccines alone will double or triple the time it will take to control this vaccine. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6947e2.htm
Thursday’s Wall Street Journal reported three new viral strains and a very high reproduction rate. Please read this article. https://www.wsj.com/articles/shape-shifting-virus-threatens-cycles-of-illness-lockdowns-11611752410?mod=itp_wsj&mod=djemITP_h