Booster update

Let’s begin with our new segment at the bulletin:

Seeing what’s in the Mailbag!

Everyday we get thousands of letters from readers from all over the world. (not true). So let’s see what’s in our fan mail bag. Here’s one.

A letter from an admirer perhaps. Let’s just read this one:”Dear Bulletin, Please don’t drone on so long this week. And you need to take out the trash when you get home. XO.

Mmmm. Someone from the family reached out to give us their support. Great! Well, keep your letters and feedback coming. Moving right along. Shall we start with the…

COVID UPDATE

  • Peaks! Good news. California is peaking! Florida is thought to be at its peak now. Alabama is expected to peak by the end of the month. Tough weeks ahead still even though peaks are reached, but the tide is turning. National numbers are hopefully stabilizing and will drop soon.
  • Berkshires had 155 new cases last week, remaining in the same range it has been. (136, 124, 155 the last three weeks). The practice has seen a few positives, and we are continuing to move many visits to Telehealth, but are seeing patients in person too.
  • If you get COVID and are at-risk there are many things you can do. Monoclonal antibody infusion is a smart immediate step for at risk populations. Early supportive treatment with a protocol like FLCCC’s is also smart for at risk folks. I tend to think early testing of symptoms  is important and encourage it. 
  • In case you were wondering, Delta is not proving to be more lethal. Some scientists think it is perhaps less lethal than alpha etc, based on data from India. More contagious, yes. But not more lethal. There is much we don’t know.
  • The nursing home outbreak in North Adams has resulted in several deaths. There were 70 positive cases. 57 in the residents. 53 of the 57 residents who got COVID were vaccinated. This mimics the trend we are seeing in Israel: similar rates of infection in the vaccinated as in the unvaccinated. Vaccines aren’t good at limiting transmission, as it turns out. This was a concern after the initial data from the trials were released and is playing out with Delta.

Where to from here?

Ending the pandemic will not come from vaccination alone, it appears, as had been the hope. It might only end with what Delta is bringing: a million new cases per day (even though we are capturing 140,000 cases experts think there are more like a million per day). This has been the case during each wave. We had 90 days (Nov-Feb) during the last surge of 100,000-250,000 plus recorded cases. In that 90 days alone there was likely over 100 million cases. We say we’ve had 35 million documented cases but we’ve had undoubtedly 100s of millions of cases. (225-275 million?). The good news is that natural immunity is proving to be very broad with the depth to provide protection against the variants of current concern. The natural intelligence of the body can’t be underestimated. Relatively soon the pool of susceptible hosts will decline due to increasing immunity that comes naturally after an infection. Any further large scale spread will be impeded. I think this is the painful fact of SARS-Cov-2, and most trials that we face. There are no short cuts. We have to go through it. 

The mRNA injections can soften the risks that come with infection and protect against severe outcomes and are an important strategy for the at risk populations, but are proving inadequate to provide an immunity that will stop COVID all by itself. The burgeoning question: could boosters be a relevant part of the strategy?

Booster update

Boosters for all in September, says the Biden Administration, in a controversial announcement this week. The plan is to start Sept. 20, and to give boosters after at least eight months has passed after receiving the second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. J&J is not included in the booster plan right now.

Interestingly, there is speculation that a third shot might complete the course. Some experts are saying we might not need annual boosters. 

 It’s notable that some scientists are baffled and upset by Biden’s booster decision, as reported in STAT medical news:

The decision to boost so early in the country’s use of the vaccines isn’t science-based, so says Anna Durbin, a vaccine scientist at Johns Hopkins. “I think there’s this tidal wave building that’s based on anxiety. And I don’t think it’s based on scientific evidence that a booster is needed.”

The fact that vaccines are no longer protecting as well against mild and moderate Covid-19 infections is serving as evidence that “could” signal a decline in protection against serious disease. “Could” doesn’t cut it for many. The FDA hasn’t ruled on the need, and the vaccine advisory panel hasn’t evaluated the data yet.

Others are not feeling settled that vulnerable populations in much of the world haven’t received one shot yet. Many think an unproven booster in a wealthy country lacks a moral foundation when others have such unmitigated risk.

Hopefulness

In any event, have you heard the whisperings that humanity course is hopeless; that the fighting and the chaos and the poisons are dooming us? Don’t believe it. It’s a lie. The game may be fixed all right, but its fixed in our favor. All we have to do is recognize how powerful we are and from what source we get our truest support. We have the power to create a world worth living in. We do so every day when we choose to be deliberate in the way we spend our money. We do it when we deny fear.  We do it when we build community. We will get there. Hang in there! And grab a little summer memory this weekend while it’s still here for the enjoying!