April 17, 2021

Dr. Stuart Weiss: COVID-19 Update Monday 15-Mar-2021

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By Dr. Stuart Weiss, Intelligent Crowd Solutions – Rapid Test Center of NY

Rapid Test Center of New York
Dr. Stuart Weiss, FACEP, FAAP, CBCP

March 15, 2021

CoViD-19 News and Information you can trust. Welcome new readers from the Rapid Test Center.

Topics: Vaccine questions, 3 feet of separation question, B.1.1.7 study

Vaccine Questions
One of my readers, wrote me a series of questions today about vaccine and I thought that I would share them with you. So first the questions:

* Is this really a vaccine as we define other well-known vaccines?
*Although it has been approved for emergency use doesn’t that mean it’s experimental?  
*What is the chance that the vaccine will not actually be approved? Or is there such a degree of cooperation between the government, our public health officials and the pharmaceutical companies they won’t allow that to happen? And what is the expected timeline? (I apologize for being such a sceptic but this is certainly the impression that has been made.) 
*It’s my understanding that the track record for the development of a Coronavirus vaccine is not very good. If that is true, why should I trust this vaccine? 
*What are the risks and potential side effects of taking the vaccine and what are those probabilities?   

Here is what I wrote back:

Thank you for your email. Let me try to answer some of your questions with the understanding that I am not your personal physician and I don’t know your health status or your health history beyond what you have shared with me.

The vaccines for CoviD-19 are actual vaccines in the sense that they are designed to evoke an immune response in the patient. The vaccines are approved for emergency use because there wasn’t time for all of the prolonged studies that usually go into a new medication approval. That doesn’t mean that it is harmful it just means that all of the hoops were not jumped through. We couldn’t wait 3-5 years for the vaccines to be approved. Sometime within the next several years, the vaccines will complete all of the regulatory process and change status, at least that is what I expect. As you know, coronaviruses cause the common cold and yes, there has not been a good vaccine developed for the common cold but frankly there wasn’t really any urgency or economic incentive to spend millions of dollars on a vaccine to cure the common cold and frankly, I wouldn’t take such a vaccine because the risks would not outweigh the benefits.

As to the risk/benefit profile, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are new vaccine technology and the J&J is based on an older technology. The reason that these vaccines were developed so quickly was that people were already working on this new vaccine technology and applied it to the new disease. It has been tested and given to millions of people and the safety profile is very good so far. There is no reason to suspect that there will be any long term issues based on the way these work. The vaccines do not affect the DNA in our cells in any way as some anti-vaccine folks espouse. We will not be growing a second nose or a third eye.

I have received my vaccine doses and I am relieved that I have drastically reduced my risk of dying from the virus. I’m glad you are taking good care of yourself but the virus doesn’t care how fit you are. I believe that vaccination is the way out of this pandemic and hopefully we will get enough people vaccinated before an escape variant develops.

Is 3 feet enough in schools or should it be 6 feet?
There is lots of thought and energy going into reopening schools. In person learning is very important for kids. Part of this challenge is how to properly distance the kids to prevent viral spread. The New York Times reported on Sunday on a new study from the folks at Harvard published in the Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases. The World Health Organization has been saying that 1 meter or 3.3 feet is enough separation while the US CDC is saying 6 feet should be maintained. This study looked at school systems across Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, the rule was 3-6 feet of separation so some school districts used 3 feet and some used 6 feet. This created a perfect situation to study the question. What they found was that when good face covering protocol was followed, there was no difference in disease transmission in the 3 foot separation schools and the 6 foot separation schools.

When asked about this on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday, Dr. Fauci acknowledged that the CDC was looking into this study and also doing its own research. So the jury is still out but don’t be surprised by some new guidance around this issue coming soon.

B.1.1.7 study
The Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy out of the University of Minnesota reported on a study from Nature which looked at the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant in the UK from Sept 2020 to Feb 2021. Similar to the British Medical Journal study published last week, they also found that the B.1.1.7 is not only more contagious but also more lethal than regular SARS-CoV-2. This is especially true of older people. The good news is that the vaccines still cover this variant pretty well.

When you are eligible, get your self vaccinated so we can get through this together. .
Dr. Stu Weiss
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COVID-19 HEADLINES FOR TODAY
Coronavirus update for March 15, 2021

World Wide Updates

China will donate 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to UN peacekeepers
Angela Merkel’s party takes a beating in regional elections over coronavirus response
Spain joins Germany, France and Italy in halting AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccinations
Europe has nearly 8 million unused AstraZeneca doses
AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine benefits outweigh risks, European Medicines Agency reiterates
Canada sticks with AstraZeneca vaccine despite European concerns
Netherlands lab received 10 reports of blood clots in AstraZeneca recipients
Norway announces the death of a person vaccinated with AstraZeneca
Italy joins growing list of countries suspending AstraZeneca vaccine
France suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine pending review from Europe’s health regulator
No evidence of blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, says Public Health England
Germany halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine
Third coronavirus wave threatens Europe, triggering fresh restrictions
European countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccinations despite advice from EU medicines regulator
China has administered nearly 65 million Covid-19 vaccine doses
Hong Kong expands priority groups for vaccine as city confronts growing cluster
Papua New Guinea reports surge in Covid-19 cases
Netherlands pauses use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
Portugal temporarily suspends use of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
Cyprus suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine
Estonian PM tests positive for coronavirus
Spain halts use of AstraZeneca vaccine for 2 weeks
Global Covid infections rose 11% over last week, WHO experts says
Turkey records 15,303 new Covid cases
Total Cases Worldwide: 120,668,485
Total Deaths Worldwide: 2,669,102
Total Recovered: 97,300,410

US Updates
Connecticut expects to expand vaccine eligibility to people 16 and older by April 5
CDC director urges Americans to continue Covid-19 mitigation practices
Pennsylvania will ease restrictions on restaurants and businesses starting April 4
Some Trump administration CDC guidance was not grounded in science, agency review finds
White House would welcome Trump’s help in promoting vaccine
US child cases of Covid-19 decline for 8th consecutive week
Mississippi will open up Covid-19 vaccination appointments to all residents starting tomorrow 
New York City has administered more than 2.8 million vaccines, mayor says
UK variant of Covid-19 will be dominant in US by end of March or early April, CDC director says
CDC considering guidelines that could change physical distancing at schools from 6 feet to 3 feet
Biden administration increasing Medicare reimbursement for Covid-19 shots
More evidence severe Covid-19 can affect brain function, study finds
Covid-19 protocols force Masters to cancel annual Par 3 contest
Moderna launches trial of new easier-to-distribute Covid-19 vaccine
Few people have missed their second dose of Covid-19 vaccine so far, CDC data show
Covid-19 testing begins at two DC-area airports as pandemic air travel breaks records
Study suggests 3 feet may be enough social distance in schools
Biden will announce key official today that will oversee implementation of Covid-19 relief law
100 arrested as spring break crowds hit Miami Beach despite the pandemic
Fauci says Covid guidelines “will be much more liberal” by July 4 if US cases drop
Biden picks ex-Obama economic czar Gene Sperling to oversee COVID relief bill rollout
More than 1.2 million people flew Sunday, the most since before COVID shutdowns, TSA says
US prison guards are refusing COVID-19 vaccines at alarming rates despite high infection risk
Facebook to label posts about COVID-19 vaccines to counter misinformation 
Total US cases: 30,121,019
Total US deaths: 547,672Total
Recovered: 22,261,512
Total Tested in US: 373,271,829
Total cases in CA: 3,623,603Total deaths in CA: 55,813
Total cases in TX: 2,732,839Total deaths in TX: 46,728
Total cases in FL: 1,979,634Total deaths in FL: 32,376
Total cases in NY: 1,786,563Total deaths in NY: 49,260
Total cases in IL: 1,210,113Total deaths in IL: 23,216
Total cases in GA: 1,034,763Total death in GA: 18,262
Total Vaccines Administered in US: 109,081,860
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