Twenty months into the Covid-19 “pandemic” we are still having heated debates within the medical community, on the streets of American towns and cities, and in legislative halls about Covid mitigation strategies. The disease like HIV-Aids has become politicized and the agenda and narrative are overshadowing evidence and logic. Conclusions regarding mitigation strategy, masks, vaccines, the opening of schools and churches have been tainted by economic and political agendas that only confuse the collection and evaluation of the data. The line separating collective and individual risk has been blurred. The homogenization of groups of people into the collective whole has resulted in thousands of people being harmed and even the death of huge groups of people dying in hospitals and nursing homes. Prospective studies are difficult to find—I will mention a few in the paragraphs to follow. Clinicians who have taken a back seat to the Public Health Specialists who themselves are far removed from patient care responsibilities are busy taking care of patients and are seldom interviewed in the media.
Our ability to take care of sick Covid patients has been a great untold story. Passive immunity—convalescent antibodies, monoclonal therapy, new techniques and strategies in ventilation, vaccination, communicating via E-mail and various social media sites instead of waiting for months for “peer reviewed” articles in the traditional medical literature have saved more lives than masks and type 2 mitigation strategies. The use of hydroxychloroquine—ask the thousands of health care workers in New York State and New Jersey who prophylaxed themselves during the height of the pandemic or ask you own doctor or PA if they have on hand any “hydroxy”. Or ask as I did today your pharmacist in Boise if there has been a run on hydroxy over the past 18 months.
I have written about Covid-19 since March of 2020 in The Gem State Patriot, The Redoubt News, and The Idaho Freedom Foundation and my positions regarding social distancing, masks, handwashing, and vaccines have not changed. What has changed is my understanding of the extremes that individuals will go to regarding risk avoidance when they don’t understand the context of the risk they are trying to avoid. As of July 30th, in Idaho only one person under the age of 18 has died from Covid 19. The new Delta Variant is more easily transmissible but less lethal across all age groups than the original Covid-19. This is very consistent with previous seasonal viruses that as the virus mutates and evolves the Ro factor goes up—becomes more easily transmissible, and is also less virulent. A child is more likely to die in a car accident in Idaho than they are from Covid-19. A child living in Idaho in 2019 was more likely to die from the seasonal flue than a child living in Idaho in 2021 was likely to die from Covid-19.
So today where do we stand in Idaho with The Delta strain of Covid-19? In recent articles in The Wall Street Journal Dr.’s Marty Makaray from The Johns Hopkins and Jay Bhattacharya and Scott Atlas both from Stanford, have addressed some of the more contemporaneous issues surrounding the Delta strain. Sighting studies from Sweden, Iceland, and Ireland a very different story emerges. Schools are actually safer places for children to be than enclosed areas with adults. Masking places fourth on the list of mitigation strategies for children at school behind proper ventilation—including open windows and exposure to sunlight, distancing, dividing and separating students—and only then masking, acknowledging that only the N-95 masks work and only when properly fitted and few adults much less children wear the masks appropriately, and most importantly cloth and cotton masks are worthless in kids, and adds little to our children’s safety. Also sighting studies from North Carolina and Brown University the risk of acquiring a Covid infection was statistically the same in classrooms where kids wearing and not wearing masks were compared when other mitigation strategies were deployed according to the article written by Dr. Makaray August 6th.
Unlike my friend Dr. Cole I have decided that for me—my wife and other adults in our family made the same decision, the vaccine makes sense. The risk of a severe adverse reaction as reported in Science News and not the CDC is less than the risk of the disease. The calculous changes for the “at risk population” including the elderly and those with co-morbid conditions. Infants and children are more likely to have adverse reactions to the vaccine than young adults and preadolescents and that is because of the naturally “revved up” state of their immune systems. People who have had previous infections or vaccinations and have positive antibodies are at higher risk for complications including thrombotic and immune complex and antibody mediated reactions.
“The jab” has become so politicized as to be almost comical. I saw a clip from MSNBC last week about the “recalcitrant Trump Supporters” who refused to take the vaccine and were for selfish childish reasons putting their neighbors at risk. Here are some facts that may surprise everyone. The age group chart for those people not getting vaccinated in our country shows the age group between 18-35 to have the lowest rate. Sumpter County Florida where the largest senior living facility in our country is located—THE VILLAGES, has a vaccination rate today of over 80% and it voted 90% for Trump… Looking at level of education as a marker for conforming to vaccination recommendations shows those with less than a high school education have a slightly higher rate of vaccination than those with a PHD (who have the lowest rates of all groups), and within that group those in STEM studies have the lowest vaccination rate when compared to the humanity faculty members. And in New York City the two groups that are resisting vaccinations the most are Black men with a vaccination rate less than 40% and in the Zip Code of Williamsburg New York with a large percentage of Hassidic Jews where the vaccination rate is 35%. In Alaska the highest rates for vaccinations are in the indigenous native populations.
In Idaho I would recommend that schools stay open and they follow the mitigation techniques described above. Masks should be optional because they really don’t work unless you have an N-95. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either misinformed or lying or trying to make themselves feel better. If you want to wear a mask, go ahead. It is a “long run for a short slide” at best. Children should not be vaccinated if they are under 12 years and many experts say 18 years of age. If you don’t want to be vaccinated don’t get vaccinated. If you have already had the disease and have antibodies or have been vaccinated and have antibodies, what do you care? If I get the disease, it will probably be worse than if you get the disease, but it is my choice to suffer from the ramifications of my own decisions—not yours.
Teachers over 35 should be vaccinated—if they want. Those with co-morbid conditions or over 65 should get vaccinated if they want. These remain recommendations based on science—not mandates based on a political narrative.
Finally let’s stop being little “Chicken Littles”. Idahoans are fully capable of making our own decisions about what is best for ourselves and our families. Talk to your family doctor—most share almost all of my feelings, but especially those that are employed by large hospital systems are afraid to speak out publicly and are reluctant to advise their patients in such a way privately. Ask them what they are doing about their own families.
As my former chief of surgery used to say to patients that weren’t working hard enough to make themselves better. “The time has come to either start living or start dying. The choice is yours.”
THE CHOICE IS OURS MAGA “Fight Like Hell”