It’s time for a life-saving re-frame. How bad is it? It is extremely bad. I am writing this to warn you that the virus is everywhere. In caring for my patients, I have found several cases of early COVID-19 infection in my younger group (age 17-29) who did not have the slightest clue that they were carrying the virus, other than friends in their ‘Bubbles’ having recent positive results. Even though we all have quarantine fatigue, and it feels awkward, we must behave as if our young adult family members likely have the virus and will transmit it unless strictest caution is observed. In Los Angeles County, with a population over 10 million, unfortunately, we have the highest numbers of positive cases (more than 11,000/day or 370% increase in positivity in one month), hospitalizations (more than 4,400) and deaths (86, today) in the USA. We are in the top position on red alert! Please take this seriously and stay home for the Holidays.
While we are breathing a sigh of relief as vaccines are on the horizon, I must remind you that a vaccine is not a cure. It is a treatment to prevent infection. We must work hard to avoid getting sick with the virus as the hospitalization and death rates are skyrocketing to staggering numbers. We are going to have to pull together as a united People to create a successful vaccine delivery and administration. We will need 60-70% of the population to be vaccinated before we can begin to gain the upper hand on the pandemic.
Now is the time to go back to that very strict, protective behavior we practiced in April. Now is the time to stay away from public places unless absolutely necessary. Please make a plan to enjoy your Holidays at home, and if you must travel, do it by car. So far, I have supported 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 using the all-natural protocol, illuminated in prior newsletters and available on my blog. All have recovered and none have been hospitalized nor had the severe long-haul symptoms that others are suffering. Please, do share the protocol with your loved ones and write to me if someone you love is actively fighting COVID-19.
Researchers at Duke University in NC developed a method to test the effectiveness of various types of masks. They found that gaiters, bandanas, hand-sewn cotton weave, and the masks with the respirator valve on them do little to protect yourself and those around you. The best masks are the paper-type surgical masks (often light blue, which need to be properly fitted) or the triple-layer masks that have a filter made of the same material as the surgical masks. A Toronto reporter summarized the findings in this article. The N95s are still the best but must be reserved for frontline healthcare workers.
Remember to avoid public toilets to the best of your ability. The quantity of virus detectable in sewage spikes before PCR tests in the community turn positive. This means that aerosol vapors from a flushing toilet used by someone who has the virus can be infective. This evidence has been studied in early data collection in participating municipalities and was shown to be a major transmission channel in the 2003 outbreak of SARS-1. If you must use a public toilet, close the lid before flushing.
Many of you have asked what I think of the vaccines and whether I will get one. We have many months before those of us who are not frontline healthcare workers or over 65 will have a chance to be vaccinated. We have time to see how the data shakes out. The two mRNA vaccines, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, are new technology and are highly engineered. Already it is being recommended that if one has a tendency to have severe allergies, to skip this vaccine. Then, there is the distribution challenge of the Pfizer vaccine needing to be stored at -70 degrees F, and the Moderna vaccine needing to be stored at about 46 degrees. For all of the vaccines, the necessity of a second dose within 17-21 days is another hurdle, and you cannot mix Pfizer and Moderna. The Astra Zeneca (AZ) vaccine is done with an older, more familiar technology that uses an adenovirus to deliver the immune-stimulating antigen, a strip of DNA that codes for one of the spike proteins of the SARS-2 virus. AZ tested their study population very differently than the way the mRNA vaccines were tested…they tested and re-tested their volunteers for evidence of the presence of the virus, while Pfizer and Moderna waited to see if who showed symptoms, and then unmasked those subjects, wherein about 5% of those who got sick had been vaccinated and the rest had received the placebo. I would say the 95% success rate of the AZ vaccine is a more reliable representation of effectiveness. AZ has pledged to distribute the vaccine at cost: $3-$5/dose, while the cost of the mRNA vaccines will be $15-$25/dose. At this point, when the time comes, I will seek to receive the AZ vaccine. This could change. The New York Times has launched a website called Find Your Place in the Vaccine Line. You should still get vaccinated, even if you already had COVID-19, but not if you have a current infection. Once you have received the vaccine, expect to continue wearing a mask, physically distancing and washing your hands frequently until we get further data that Community Immunity has been reached. Being vaccinated will not change the results of the PCR or the Rapid Antigen Tests. Again, I want to reassure you that strictest regulations and protocols have been followed by these three vaccine developers, even in light of the warp-speed acceleration.
A gentle reminder: please get your information about vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 from trusted physicians and researchers, NOT from social media. There are uneducated people spreading misinformation that harms all of us. If you are feeling worked up, angry, or frightened, that is a clue that you may be being misled.
The cavalry is coming…in about 6 months. That’s a long time to hold your horses, but I know we can do it!
Copyright © 2020 Dr. Jeanette Ryan, DC, IFMCP, All rights reserved.
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