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COVID-19 Update June 11, 2021: Our Best Hope to Stop the Pandemic Is Dramatically Slowing; Update on the Story of the COVID Vaccine and the Heart

By Dr. Arthur Lavin

Glossary

  • 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
  • Myocarditis- the heart is made up of muscles and other tissues like many parts of the body, to like all parts of the body, it too can be inflamed.  Like all inflammation this involves swelling and irritation.  It is a problem to the same level of the severity of the inflammation, and can go away fully if the inflammation is mild.
  • 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.

Our Best Hope to Stop the Pandemic Is Dramatically Slowing

I think we were all looking forward to these COVID Updates at Real Answers becoming less necessary.  Once the Pandemic really ends, so will these Updates.

But very tragically, that time is not yet.  We have in our hands one simple tool to End the Pandemic, truly end it.  And that can be described in one phrase:  The COVID Vaccine.

In every nation that has embraced the COVID vaccine, the pandemic grinds to a sudden halt.  And it will here too, if we decide to have our nation vaccinated.

As readers of Real Answers know, the US did a great job in launching our extraordinary vaccine campaign.  Anyone been to Wolstein? You will have experienced best-in-the-world mass immunization at its best.  We were closing in on giving 4 million doses a day, it looked like we could hit 5 million.  If we had the Pandemic would have essentially been over back on Memorial Day.

Tragically, we have faltered.  We dropped to 2 million doses a day, and that set the time we would hit 55% vaccinated, the level at which nations see transmission come close to ceasing, by July 1.  But this week the United States has dropped its rate of vaccination to less than 1 million doses a day, while we sit at 43% vaccinated.   At this rate we will  not hit our minimum necessary level to really stop spread until August.  And if rates continue to drop, the Pandemic may simply continue to spread and not stop.

This is terrible news.  Especially as the new variants are clearly emerging as more contagious and more deadly.  Had we all been vaccinated by now, the new variants would not get a foothold in our nation.  But instead, all the unvaccinated, including all children 11 years old and younger, are facing the emergence of this virus spreading, because there will be about 40 million Americans who have refused to vaccinate yet who will be able to spread these dangerous new variants.

History will record that a killer virus attacked all of us, and at the moment we could have ended its spree, enough of us decided it was too risky, or too scary, or caused us to become human magnets, or whatever reason, and let the killer loose.

We write this message today urgently, to plead with everyone, if you are not yet vaccinated against COVID, run, do not walk to the nearest available place to get COVID vaccine, today!!!  That includes everyone ages 12 and up.  As groups of 30 call us, we can order our minimum amount of 30 doses and give it here.

Update on the Story of the COVID Vaccine and the Heart

Now, let’s talk about the question, does getting COVID vaccine increase the risk of your heart getting inflamed?  As of today, the honest answer is that we do not know.  But here is what we do know:

  • About 12.7 million people ages 24 years old and younger are now fully immunized for COVID
  • In its latest report, about 200 people ages 30 and younger who had the second COVID vaccine developed some inflammation of their heart, a condition called myocarditis.
  • Groups of that age who are not vaccinated also get myocarditis.  It is a problem people got long before there ever was a COVID vaccine.  The question is, how many of the 200 who got myocarditis got it because of the vaccine, and how many of them would have gotten myocarditis if they never got this vaccine?
  • Even if all 200 of those with it were from the vaccine, that means the risk, currently at most, would be about 1.5 per million, second doses.
  • In adults, the risk of getting myocarditis from COVID, the disease, in some reports is as high as 70%!

So now we must ask, would you rather your child take an action that makes their chances of developing myocarditis 700,000 in a million or 1.5 in a million?  I think most of us would prefer the 1.5 in a  million.

But what is the evidence this even happens to 1.5 in a million?  The evidence is hangs on the observation that in this group of people we would expect, in the days prior to the vaccine, to see about 100 cases of myocarditis happen, and instead we are seeing 200 cases.  So some may in fact be due to the vaccine.   But that fact is not yet proven.  This is what the CDC is built to find out, and they will.

They have announced they will share their findings next Friday, which is June 18.  I will be listening carefully and I know you will too. 

Now a word on myocarditis

The heart is made up of tissues, just like any other part of the body, and its main tissue is muscle.  Think about anytime you have had a real flu, remember all that achiness you felt?  That was the muscles of your body getting inflamed, a bit swollen, and a bit tender.

Whenever any part of the body gets inflamed we attach the suffix –itis, and we have in one word the fact that that part is inflamed.  Appendicitis is an inflamed appendix, dermatitis is inflamed skin, gastroenteritis is an inflamed stomach and intestine, and myocarditis is an inflamed heart.

Just like all inflammations, the problem ranges according to how severe the inflammation is.  Consider a common skin inflammation like eczema.  It can be so mild, no one really notices, it doesn’t bother your child, and it goes away with no harm done. Or it can be severe, cause the skin to deeply crack, be very uncomfortable.

 Just so with myocarditis.  In fact, the observations released by the CDC this week report that of those 200 (out of 12.7 million immunized) cases of myocarditis, 160 or 80% were so mild, no treatment was necessary and full recovery expected.

 The idea that COVID vaccine might cause myocarditis rarely is not actually too bizarre.  All vaccines can cause mild forms of symptoms found in the disease.  The measles and chickenpox vaccines can cause mild rashes, and the stomach flu rotavirus vaccine can cause diarrhea.  Since COVID the disease can cause so much myocarditis, it stands to reason that it might cause, very, very rarely, myocarditis in the vaccinated, and in a much milder form.

Even with all this taken into account, the CDC, and me too, urges everyone to get COVID vaccinated.

To be as honest as humanly possible, our choice is not between COVID vaccine and nothing happening.  It is between you and your children getting the vaccine or getting COVID.  That is the only choice actually before us.  Because enough people are choosing not to get vaccinated, the very real possibility of getting COVID and suffering lifelong harm remains very real if you choose not to get vaccinated.

 Bottom Lines

  1. We are so, so, so close to Ending the Pandemic.  So it is beyond heartbreaking that our nation has decided to stop trying.
  2. Immunization rates today are not 5 million doses a day. They are right now below 1 million a day, this is a tragedy.
  3. At less than 1 million doses a day, the End of the Pandemic, once within our reach by the end of May, cannot be reached by August, and if the vaccination rates continues to drop, it may not stop by then either.
  4. There is no good time to invite a killer virus to go on the attack again, but this is an especially bad time.  New variants are more contagious and more deadly, and so present a greater threat to all the unvaccinated, including our children.  How could we choose to not stop this Pandemic now?
  5. An observation suggests that young people, ages 12-30, especially males getting their second dose of COVID vaccine have a very tiny increased risk of myocarditis.  About 80% of those 200 out of 12.7 million vaccinated experienced only very mild myocarditis and are recovering with no need for treatment.
  6. The CDC is studying the patterns and will announce by June 18 if there is a risk, how big it is.  They are already stating the choice of COVID vaccine or not COVID vaccine remains deadly clear: GET THE VACCINE!!

My Takeaway in One Sentence:

We stand at the pivotal moment of the COVID Pandemic in the United States, either we end it now, or suffer more terrible loss of life and suffering: only getting fully vaccinated can fully protect.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin

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