It’s that time of year.
What about this triple threat: Covid, RSV, Flu? “Hey, doctor, what should I do about the next shot?”
These are the questions of the fall, intensified by the pandemic and new products. I’m hearing them a lot. I’ve got a lot to say. Let’s cover some ground.
Holistic view on the common cold
As a young doctor it occurred to me that if there ever was a cure for the common cold, I would be wary. That thought came with the realization that even though a cold is a nuisance and sometimes worse, it’s a part of a system. Its presence needs to be understood. Is there a purpose? Think of its main gesture: it forces us to slow down, stop going, stop thinking. It demands a pause: some rest, quiet, and to be covered with a warm blanket — a reset of sorts.
Furthermore, look at the signature features of the common cold — there are lots of excretions, the body’s way of removing excess waste. We all have cell turnover and benefit from an occasional acute inflammation to help us detox.
A common cold is medicine in and of itself.
The common cold is… well… quite common, and 200 different viruses are thought of as potential causes. There is no “cure” nor a passive preventative measure that we have been able to employ, so the focus falls on measures that aid detoxification and excretion and aid the immune system against the pathogen.
Preventative strategies include detox standbys: exercise, sweating (sauna), good diet, healthy sleep habits, and hygenic measures.
FLCCC has a protocol for pre-exposure prevention: Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, quercetin, elderberry, mouthwashes top the list.
Treatment with homeopathics (Ferrum phosphoricum, Echinacea Thuja from Uriel), herbs, teas, diet changes (low protein, honey, broth) are great.
Ideally we get over the cold having rested and detoxed or are active with the preventative measures of working at good habits and balance.
That’s the holistic viewpoint.
I come from the school of your body is your temple. You have to guard the door and be active to be the master of your domain.
The standard thought in medicine doesn’t so much have the same orientation. Colds and Flu are costly nuisances, to be eradicated if possible; there is a not a thought of the need to detoxify. Avoidance would be welcome. Think of all the work-hours they cost us, the economic model of existence says.
Scientists explore the impulse that more viruses could be avoided using vaccines. It turns out there’s a problem with common cold viruses. Systemic respiratory viruses like measles, mumps, rubella, small pox and chicken pox have characteristics that are well suited to passive immunization efforts. Without a vaccine, people get the disease only once and the body is immune. Vaccine programs connected to these pathogens have a high level of predictability. You get vaccinated, and you don’t get the illness.
This is not the case for the common cold which is caused by non-systemic respiratory viruses (mucosal respiratory viruses). RSV, COVID, and Flu are all in this category as well. Stimulating an effective immunity poses a challenge. These viruses act very differently.
“The non-systemic respiratory viruses such as influenza viruses, SARS-CoV-2, and RSV tend to have significantly shorter incubation periods and rapid courses of viral replication. They replicate predominantly in local mucosal tissue, without causing viremia, and do not significantly encounter the systemic immune system or the full force of adaptive immune responses, which take at least 5–7 days to mature, usually well after the peak of viral replication and onward transmission to others.”
— Fauci paper in 1/2023
Just after he retired, in a scientific paper Dr. Fauci with a couple of colleagues laid out a need for alternative approaches for the non-systemic respiratory viruses, calling out the current ineffectiveness.
The paper notes infection from RSV, Flu or COVID does “not elicit complete and long-term protective immunity against reinfection,” and asks, “how can we expect vaccines, especially systemically administered non-replicating vaccines, to do so?”
Agreed, Tony (Holy Cross grad).
And the paper further notes, “The rates of effectiveness of our best approved influenza vaccines would be inadequate for licensure for most other vaccine-preventable diseases.” The notoriously underwhelming effectiveness of the flu vaccine has been using the same technique since the 1950s and struggling to be relevant with low levels of effectiveness and the need to get an annual shot. It’s considered unsatisfactory on many fronts.
“So what about the flu vaccine this year, doc? Give me the science.”
From the Cochrane review (top evidence-based guidance):
“Older adults receiving the influenza vaccine may have a lower risk of influenza (from 6% to 2.4%), and probably have a lower risk of Influenza like illness (ILI) compared with those who do not receive a vaccination over the course of a single influenza season (from 6% to 3.5%). We are uncertain how big a difference these vaccines will make across different seasons. Very few deaths occurred, and no data on hospitalization were reported. No cases of pneumonia occurred in one study that reported this outcome. We do not have enough information to assess harms relating to fever and nausea in this population.
The evidence for a lower risk of influenza and ILI with vaccination is limited by biases in the design or conduct of the studies. Lack of detail regarding the methods used to confirm the diagnosis of influenza limits the applicability of this result. The available evidence relating to complications is of poor quality, insufficient, or old and provides no clear guidance for public health regarding the safety, efficacy, or effectiveness of influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years or older. Society should invest in research on a new generation of influenza vaccines for the elderly.”
When you dive in, you are confronted everywhere with the aforementioned fact that Corona viruses, RSV, and influenza are fundamentally different from systemic respiratory viruses make it difficult to prevent with immunization.
No one can fault you to focus on prevention and adequate rest and other treatment measures above as your number one priorities no matter what you decide on the vaccine.
COVID vaccines can also be considered in the category that is all too common for these non-systemic respiratory vaccines: not satisfactorily effective.
Trials show the chance of getting COVID and therefore the chance of being hospitalized is decreased but most trials had a short follow up. We now know protection only lasts 3 to 4 months. After protection wanes, there is evidence for increased likelihood of contracting COVID compared to pre-vaccinated state. Furthermore, with the current evidence we can only have confidence in the described safety for the short term.
Additionally, most trials were conducted before the emergence of variants of concern. Omicron variant, which started in 2022 and has persisted, has been a game-changer. With Omicron, COVID no longer has a strong affinity for the lungs. Besides, now that natural immunity is so wide spread, do the benefits stand? It’s a question without adequate study results.
Moreover, we learned vaccination does not prevent transmission. With a short window of action and with the current Omicron era, it becomes a pressing question if receiving the frequent vaccines required to see a immune benefit or continuing to spend our tax dollars on these (expensive) interventions has merit.
The general population knows of the uncertainty. The industry predicts only a 25% uptake of the new booster. As much as anything else this is all a function of how difficult it is to vaccinate against mucosal respiratory viruses.
Why keep trying and why so much emphasis on these efforts?
You have to know by now that these are by far the top grossing drugs in the history of the world. It is scientifically sound to understand this as a possible bias. For comparison, before the pandemic the top selling drugs were Humira, a immune modulator for inflammatory arthritis, amongst other things ($20 Billion in annual sales) and Keytruda a chemotherapy drug (making $17 Billion annually). Pfizer made $38 Billion in 2021 on its COVID vaccine and $55 Billion in 2022.
Richly rewarding limited effectiveness is what we’ve done. Do we want to continue?, is the question our governments face.
Grain of liability salt
The recommendations that everyone over 6 months get the new Covid shot is as much of an important liability exchange as it is a deep statement of what is best for everyone born out of understanding.
Since 1986 there is a liability shield for the drug companies if they produce a vaccine that becomes recommended by the main advisory boards. Companies can’t be sued for damages OR discovery for injuries that occur as a result of being injured by a vaccine. This gives a huge advantage for any product covered in this way. There is a government based system that handles people seeking damages.
For what it is worth, the government program has the reputation of being conservative with its rewards, and frustrating for people claiming injuries. Here are some recent stats I found.
CICP (one of the two gov’t department processing claims) data for COVID-19 claims (as of September 1, 2023)
CICP (one of the two gov’t department processing claims) data for COVID-19 claims (as of September 1, 2023)
Total COVID-19 CICP claims filed: 12,110
- Pending Review or In Review: 10,949
- Decisions: 1,161
- Claims found eligible for compensation: 32
“Why are you so conservative with your medication advice, doctor?”
To answer this, I think it is important to note new concerns about DNA contamination with COVID vaccines.
“Earlier this year, genomics expert Kevin McKernan first discovered DNA contamination in vials of Pfizer and Moderna’s bivalent booster shots. He published his findings in a pre-print, but the research received little attention from the mainstream media.
Observing from afar was Phillip Buckhaults, a cancer genomics expert, and professor at the University of South Carolina. Initially, he dismissed McKernan’s findings as “conspiracy” and decided to debunk the work by carrying out his own testing on the mRNA vials.
But what Buckhaults discovered shocked him –> McKernan was right! Buckhaults found billions of tiny DNA fragments in Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, and recently testified about it before a South Carolina Senate hearing.”
— 9.22.23 from Demasi (journalist, work is often in BMJ — British Medical Journal)
DEMASI: What does it mean for vaccinated people that the vials are contaminated with DNA?
BUCKHAULTS: People will disagree on the magnitude of the risk. We do not yet know if it means anything or not. There’s a chance that this DNA does nothing, but because I have a background in cancer genetics and cancer biology, somatic mutations are my expertise. And I think that there is a reasonable chance that if you inject pieces of DNA that are wrapped up in this transfection particle — the lipid nanoparticles — there is a reasonable chance that some of this is going to get into cells, and then integrate into the genome of cells. I think we should check and find out.
DEMASI: If it does get into the genome, what does it mean?
BUCKHAULTS: IF genome modification is happening, It’s just a matter of time before one of these fragments hits a tumour suppressor gene and initiates the beginning of cancer in a single stem cell. Also, there have been reports of myocarditis. I’m wondering if it’s possible that these little bits of DNA actually encode pieces of the spike protein…There’s a lot of open reading frames in these pieces of DNA that code for peptides that don’t belong in humans and are neo-antigens. And my concern is that some of these pieces of DNA could transform long lived stem cells in, maybe the myocardium, or pericardium, or maybe the liver, or lymph nodes… and now that tissue makes a long-lived expression of some neo-antigen that could be causing a long-term autoimmunity type response like myocarditis. So, they are the two things that immediately come to mind — the small possibility of cancers in people in the next five years down the road, or the possibility of autoimmunity from the production of these peptides.
DEMASI: Got it. Just so I’m clear, there haven’t actually been studies or evidence of integration into a person’s DNA? Am I correct?
BUCKHAULTS: No there is no evidence of genome modification, because, as far as I know, no one has looked.”
I’m conservative because nobody is going to EVER withdraw vitamin C, zinc, and herbs from the market. They are not without risk, but they are known entities. Prevention with an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise will NEVER be “re-thought”. You can’t say the same about medications, which is why I move cautiously with them. I have seen several cases of autoimmune illness flares after the COVID shots, for example. Cardiovascular inflammation has been described in several studies. I have seen cardiovascular events in proximity to vaccination. It’s impossible to say anything without adequate longer term studies. I think it’s safe to say that the safety profile has yet to be fully established.
New vaccines against RSV have been recently approved for people over 60. (Other products being introduced for newborns and for pregnant mothers have been approved as well but are not discussed here).
RSV is not an emerging Illness nor is it surging. It has been here.
“RSV is a common cause of respiratory illness in infants and young children, as well as older adults.”
“For most healthy adults, an RSV infection is nothing more than mild cold-like symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, and cough.”
It mainly spreads in the United States from the late fall to the early spring. Any infectious disease has a spectrum of how it manifests from unnoticeable to severe. Like with most respiratory infections, often it is mild, even unnoticeable. A major determining factor depends on the state of the infected host at the time of the infection.
“Each season, RSV causes substantial morbidity and mortality in older adults, including lower respiratory tract disease, hospitalization, and death.” (CDC)
There are an estimated to be a minimum 60,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 deaths annually with RSV as a contributor among adults ages 65 years and older. (CDC data). These hospitalizations and deaths are generally known to be in people with other significant illness. This population is the expected target for the vaccine. The actual numbers aren’t well established because we haven’t traditionally tested for or tracked RSV.
Due to the earliness of the campaign it is currently not recommended, just approved as an option.
“Serious neurologic events, including Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) and other inflammatory neurologic events, were reported after RSV vaccination in clinical trials. Whether these events occurred due to chance or whether RSV vaccination increases the risk for inflammatory neurologic events is currently unknown. Until additional evidence is available to clarify the risk of inflammatory neurologic events after vaccination, RSV vaccination in older adults should be directed to those who are at highest risk for severe RSV disease and therefore most likely to benefit from vaccination.”
The pharmacology department at my medical school taught me to be slow to adopt anything new. No one is expecting broad uptake of this vaccine. We have established that mucosal respiratory viruses are difficult targets. Attempts at RSV vaccines before this have had a suboptimal track record.
We are all in search of thorough solutions and want to be wary of going all-in relying on technology that doesn’t have the track record or address the full spectrum of what it is replacing. Shame on us if we don’t realize the vaccines are only a part of the autumn plan menu. We should not forget that the body needs to detox to prevent other illnesses, and to be in support of those efforts should be our primary effort, aided by passive immunization when the data supports it.
Here’s to your temple and your ongoing efforts to treat it with loving care!