Original Articles By Dr. Lavin Featuring Expert Advice & Information about Pediatric Health Issues that you Care the Most About

COVID-19 Update April 12, 2021: 12 Years Old and Up – Time to Get Ready; Vaccine V. Variant- The Variants Rise Here, the Kids COVID is Here; Vaccine Data- Astoundingly Safe, Astoundingly Effective

By Dr. Arthur Lavin


    • Virus– a type of germ that consists solely of a bit of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat.  The coat gets the genes into the target cell where the genes force the cell to make zillions of new viruses, and on it goes.
    • Coronavirus– a species name of a number of different viruses.  Called corona because its protein coat is studded with spike shapes that form a crown, halo, or corona of spikes
    • SARS-CoV-2– the specific name of the new coronavirus
  • COVID-19-the name of the illness that the new coronavirus is causing
  • Endemic– an illness always present in a region.  One could say strep throat is endemic in the US
  • Epidemic– a sudden burst of an illness that comes and goes over a limited time
  • Pandemic– an epidemic that bursts across the world not just one region
  • Spreadability– how contagious is the disease, how many people will end up infected
  • Symptoms- the experience of being ill, for example- fever, cough, headaches, loss of smell etc.
    • Asymptomatic– literally means “without symptoms”.  For COVID-19 it refers a person infected with the virus but has no and will have not symptoms
    • Presymptomatic– This is a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, and will feel sick, but hasn’t yet
  • Severity– what harm does the disease cause, in terms of  how sick you get and how many it will kill
  • Mask- a mask is a loose-fitting cloth or textile that covers the mouth and nose loosely.  A surgical mask is a mask used in surgery
  • Respirator-  for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses, a respirator is a mask that fits very snugly or tightly to the user’s face.  An N95 mask is a respirator.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)- PPE are any item that covers any part of the body with the design and intent of keeping viruses in the environment from infecting the wearer of the PPE. PPE’s include all masks (which includes respirators), face shields, eye shields, gloves, gowns.
  • Ventilator- a ventilator is a machine that can force a person unable to breathe to inhale and exhale and control both effectively.  They are sometimes called respirators, but during this pandemic the word respirator is now reserved for reference to a tightly fit mask.
  • Live Virus Swab– this is the swab which attempts to swipe live virus from one’s nose or throat to see if you are currently infected.
  • Antibody Test- (aka serology test) this is the blood test which looks for antibody to the SARS-CoV-2 virus to see if you have been infected in the past.
  • Vaccine Terms
    • Vaccine or Immunization– a dose of a substance that activates your immune system, as if you have the actual infection you are hoping to prevent, leaving you in fact protected from having that infection.
    • Efficacy– the percentage of people immunized with a particular vaccine who will not get infected if exposed to the target infection.  For example, a COVID-19 vaccine will be said to be 95% effective if 95% of people immunized with that particular COVID-19 vaccine will not get COVID-19 if exposed to COVID-19
    • mRNA– DNA works by dictating exactly which proteins your cell will make.  The message on how to construct each protein is delivered to the cell machinery that makes proteins by a piece of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA
    • mRNA vaccine– an mRNA vaccine places a small bit of mRNA code that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected
    • Viral vector vaccine– a viral vector vaccine takes a harmless virus that is known to infect people reliably and places that weakened virus in a person where that virus will in fact infect the person.  The virus is not only weakened, but also attached to a set of genes  that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected.

12 Years Old and Up- Time to Get Ready

On April 9, Pfizer announced it had submitted its application to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization of its BioNTech COVID vaccine for all people 12 years of age and older.  Pfizer filed first, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are expected to follow in not too long.

Again, the process from study to giving it to everyone happens in 3 steps:

  1. The manufacturer tests the vaccine in the study group to see if it is safe and effective.
  2. The FDA reviews the manufacturer data in detail and if they have proven it is safe and effective an Emergency Use Authorization, EUA is issued.
  3. Then the CDC reviews the manufacturer data and FDA review findings and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice meets and if it approves, the COVID vaccine is approved for full public use as authorized.

This new reality should come into play in the next week or so!


There is huge amount of data that this is a very effective, very safe vaccine.  See below for details.

And there is NO doubt that your child will be far, far, far safer with a COVID vaccine than with a COVID infection.

Vaccine V. Variant- The Variants Rise Here

As fully expected, the UK variant of COVID, aka the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 virus, is taking hold across the entire United States.

As the UK variant takes over, the COVID does two things, it surges with a vast swath of new cases, and many of the new outbreaks erupt in schools and in young people.

All these patterns are on full view in the US.  The states with the highest percentage of UK variant COVID are having the most dramatic surges, and in those states the headlines feature school outbreaks.

Here is a link to state patterns from the Times.: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/04/06/us/variants-cases-spread.html

And here is one from the CDC that gets updated daily:https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/transmission/variant-cases.html

The vaccine works so well, that it is very possible as middle school, high school, and college kids get fully immunized, we could see the pandemic really fade later in May.

But from NOW to MEMORIAL DAY- we all need to be vigilant:  Stay distant, Wear a Mask, Stay Home as much as Possible, AVOID PUBLIC GATHERINGS AND CROWDED TRANSIT AREAS.

A few weeks, lives really will be decided on whether we agree to stay careful, a few more weeks.

Right Now, the engine of the American COVID Pandemic are our youth, particularly via high schools sports to across the nation.  This is partly because of the UK Variant and also because older Americans are so much more immunized.

Either way, the point remains urgent- as soon as we can, we need to immunize our middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college kids.

Vaccine Data- Astoundingly Safe, Astoundingly Effective

Many, many people have asked us- has anyone died from the COVID vaccine?  The answer after 167 million doses (!) across the US comes in one word; NO.

The official CDC link to vaccine side effects is here:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/safety/adverse-events.html

And today this is the report:  “Over 167 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through April 5, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 2,794 reports of death (0.00167%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. CDC and FDA physicians review each case report of death as soon as notified and CDC requests medical records to further assess reports. A review of available clinical information including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records revealed no evidence that vaccination contributed to patient deaths. CDC and FDA will continue to investigate reports of adverse events, including deaths, reported to VAERS.”

It’s worth looking at this for just one more moment.  First of all, how astounding is the fact that out of a nation of 320 million people, 167 million doses have been given?  Now keep in mind, in a normal year, about 2 million of us die from disease and injury, every year.  So if you are looking at what happens when you give 167 million doses of vaccine, there will be some people in that group who were going to die if they get the vaccine or not.  It turns out of this group, 2,794 people did die after getting the vaccine.  BUT NONE OF THE DEATHS WERE FROM THE VACCINE.

Now, let’s look at Israel again.  They are now over 55% of their entire population immunized, and their number of COVID cases continues to drop dramatically.

If the US is 20% fully immunized, we need to have 35% of nation still fully immunized.  That is about 120 million more people.  And that will require no more than 240 million more doses given.  At 5 million doses a day that will take 48 days.  But the more Johnson & Johnson doses used, the fewer those days, since that is one and done.  But 48 days from now is May 27.

We could reach Israeli levels of plummeting COVID, even in the face of UK variants, by Memorial Day, for real.

Bottom Lines

  1. The door is opening for all children ages 12 and up to get COVID vaccine.  Once the FDA then the CDC approve, then we should all have all our children ages 12 and up COVID vaccinated ASAP.
  2. Once this is accomplished, just imagine all middle schools and high schools and colleges will be fully safe, including all their sports.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin



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