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February 26, 2022

The Covid States + DC Project On Misinformation

These data are a follow-up from regular early surveys in which attitudes and behaviors about the Covid vaccines are measured.  From Dec. 22, 2021 to Jan 21, 2022 18,782 Americans responded to a survey.  They were asked to answer 4 statements - yes, no, or not sure.  

(1.) The Covid 19 vaccines will alter people's DNA - 8% YES

(2.)  The Covid 19 vaccines contain microchips that could track people - 5% YES

(3.)  The Covid 19 vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses - 7% YES. 

(4.)  The Covid 19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant - 10% YES. 

All of these statements were proven FALSE over and over, but 16% of Americans surveyed still believe one or more of these statements are TRUE and that has a direct correlation to failure to get vaccinated.  

46% of respondents were "UNSURE" about at least one of the statements.  

80% of Americans thought all 4 statements were false - and were vaccinated. 

60% of Americans believed that multiple statements were true - and did not get vaccinated.   

1 out of 5 Americans are unvaccinated and they are 14 times more likely to die of Covid!   See Below  

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These study results also correlate unvaccination with specific groups of Americans.  Perhaps this survey data, which is being collected regularly during the pandemic, can help scientists, physicians, educators, and mass media to better inform our population.   We are approaching 1 million deaths in the US, and approximately 2000 deaths are still occurring in the US every day!  

February 23, 2022

Are We Reopening Just as Omicron Subvariant BA.2 is Increasing?

Are we reopening too fast, just when the Omicron BA.2 subvariant is now present across the country and is already slowly increasing as a percentage of all cases?  Everyone is anxious to return to our pre-Covid lives, but scientists have no idea whether BA.2 will soon surge or remain at very low levels in the US.  There is data demonstrating that BA.2 is 30% more transmissible than BA.1. There is no information about whether it causes more severe disease.  To date there is no more immune evasion than is seen with BA.1, even though it has many more mutations.

BA.2 is 3.9% of new infections in the US, and already 6% in NY.  In NY it was reported at 1.6% on 1/29, 2.5% on 2/5, and 6.0% on 2/12.  It takes up to a week for the genomic sequencing to be reported, so the 6% is a report from samples collected a week before.  Those 3 numbers look like exponential growth - hopefully the next data will be published soon, and we may know whether the BA.2 subvariant will cause another surge.  Although the infection rate in NY was steadily decreasing it is now steady at approximately 1-2% in NY state, New York City, and Manhattan for the last 6 days.  Is this because the BA.2 subvariant is increasing as the BA.1 subvariant is decreasing? The US still has more than 100,000 new Covid cases each day, and more than 2000 deaths/day.  Another surge now will be dangerous for the unvaccinated, <5. and vaccinated older adults, and immunodeficient people.   

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We all have to decide how much risk we are willing to take.  But as you make these decisions, please be ready to mask up again, especially in indoor crowds.  And if you have been vaccinated, but not boosted, there is accumulating evidence from recent studies that the booster doses even maintain some immune protection against the subvariants.   

February 19, 2022

Heart Disease After Covid-19 in Unvaccinated People

Not only pregnancy outcomes are worse if unvaccinated women develop Covid-19.  In a recent study of more than 150,000 health records of US Veterans with documented Covid-19 (who lived more than 30 days after their infection), there was an alarming incidence of cardiovascular disease one year after they had Covid-19.  They were compared to approximately 5000 Veterans who did not have Covid and a similar size group of veterans from 2017.  The study was conducted on Veterans who had Covid before vaccines were available.  Patients were young or old and obesity, diabetes, and smoking were seen in equal numbers of infected and uninfected subjects.    

There were 20 different cardiovascular complications seen but the most common abnormalities were myocarditis, stroke. heart attack, heart failure, blood clots, and abnormal heart rhythm. The cardiovascular sequelae could occur following mild infections, but the risk increased with more severe infections.  To just look at one cardiovascular complication, patients who had Covid 19 had a 72% higher risk of developing heart failure than those who did not have Covid.  The Veteran population is skewed toward men, and 75% of subjects were white.  Patients average age was in their 60s.  

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All of these cardiovascular disorders can be very severe and lifelong.  It is important that these data are distributed so some of the unvaccinated may decide to get vaccinated.  A similar study is now being conducted in a vaccinated population - and those results may be like the differences in pregnancy, in which mothers and babies have less comorbidities and death if they are vaccinated.

February 16, 2022

Interesting Info About Covid Vaccinations

Today I have my "guest editor" providing the info to my twice weekly COVID blog post.  Our son Jason is a physician at NIH and he writes commentaries on all facets of the pandemic for his followers.  
 
"Do you realize that more than half of the planet has now been vaccinated against COVID?  We're exactly 14 months since the first shots went into arms outside of clinical studies, and 11 BILLION doses of vaccine have been delivered to 4.3 billion people.  It's basically unfathomable to consider what the planet would look like if the vaccines HADN'T done what we needed them to do. It's estimated that we'd have lost more than 1.2 million additional lives, and had over 14 million more infected people, in the US alone had it not been for the immense effort that resulted in safe and effective shots." 
 
"In a way, we're immensely FORTUNATE that we're in the position of having inane debates about masking - because in a world in which vaccines hadn't been successful, there'd be no getting back to normal, there'd be an acclimation at a much worse NEW normal.  And I read something today that I hadn't internalized - prior to the pandemic, 90% of all vaccine doses manufactured worldwide came from four companies, but all the success came despite the failure of three of them to deliver!  Pfizer got to the finish line with its effort, but Merck halted two attempts due to poor results, Sanofi had quality issues that sidelined its vaccine, and GSK didn't even try to join the party.  So while I continue to lament us only managing to vaccinate 65% of Americans, my spirits are buoyed by the work being done across the planet to end the ravages of COVID." 

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February 12, 2022

Covid Infections in Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association are collaborating on Covid data collection.  Over 12,000,000 cases have occurred in children since the start of the pandemic, and the incidence of Covid cases among children has spiked dramatically in 2022 during the omicron surge.  Almost 4.2 million cases were reported since the beginning of January 2022.  For the week ending Feb. 3rd 632,000 cases were reported.  Over 7000 hospitalizations occurred in January (especially in the <5 year old group), and 70 of those children died with the omicron variant.  Some children were hospitalized with other health problems but were found to be Covid positive.

The number of children vaccinated is low in all age groups.  The 6 mos-5 year olds are  not eligible yet, but only 30% or less of the 6 -11 year old group are vaccinated, and only half of the 12-17 year old group are vaccinated and may not be boosted.  Everyone was hoping the FDA was going to meet with their independent advisory board on Tuesday Feb 15th, but yesterday the meeting was cancelled and will be rescheduled. The clinical trial data on antibody levels for the 6 mos. to 2 year old children met the criteria for FDA approval.  However the clinical trial data for the 3-5 year old group fell short - producing only 60% of the required immune response.  Since then the clinical trial recipients were given a 3rd dose of vaccine and they are waiting for that data to be available.   

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The FDA is rescheduling the Advisory Group Meeting so they will have more data to present on the clinical trial participants that are receiving a 3rd dose.  Pfizer told the FDA that the 3 drug trial was moving quickly enough that they should be able to meet in April and make the vaccine available to the 18 million children in that age group. Fortunately omicron cases are falling rapidly right now and the urgency that existed one month ago has lessened.  Pfizer has still been collecting data from the trial participants, and those who became infected had a lower incidence of symptomatic infection.   

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