Okay–you are all probably as tired of discussing COVID and the insanity of anti-vaxxers as I am, but my cousin the cardiologist has written an important summary of the issues, and maybe–just maybe–sharing considered information from a medical professional might trigger productive discussion.
Yeah, I know. Dreaming…
As Mort says, as a member of the conventional medical/scientific community, he grieves at the number of needless deaths that have occurred, and he agrees with the Surgeon General about the need to understand and counter the large amounts of disinformation flooding social media. He proceeds by offering facts about the vaccines–their efficacy, a history of their development, where they can be accessed, the fact that they’re free, and much more…He’s compiled a very useful, one-stop overview of most of the questions people have. You should click through to see the entire compilation.
Undoubtedly the most important part of his message, however, has to do with safety. With his permission, I am quoting that section at length.
Even before the vaccines were given emergency use authorization, the FDA reviewed months of safety data on tens of thousands of participants in vaccine trials. Since then, regulators have tracked people who received a vaccine in the real world, because it’s possible that very rare side effects might emerge once millions of people receive a shot.
In the U.S., more than half of adults are now fully vaccinated, and even more have received at least one dose. With more than 300 million doses of vaccine administered and an intense safety monitoring program that’s able to track even extremely rare side effects, researchers have been able to track vaccinated people for months, and are confident that the COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use by the FDA are safe.
For the vast majority of people, side effects have been similar to those from other vaccines, like the shingles vaccine, though they have been more common and severe than they are with the typical flu shot. These side effects include fever, headaches, feeling run-down, and soreness in the arm. These are more common after the second shot than the first, and generally go away within a few days. A few rare side effects have been detected, now that millions of vaccine doses have been administered.
After receiving the J&J vaccine, a very small number of people—primarily women younger than 50—have developed a type of rare but serious blood clot. In women between 18 and 49, there have been about 7 cases per million vaccinations, and the FDA and CDC still recommend this vaccine. Similar rare blood clots have been observed with the Astrazeneca vaccine in Europe. In July, the CDC also announced that the agency had detected preliminary reports of about 100 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder, among 12.8 million people who received the J&J vaccine. Most were men, many of them 50 and older. Another concern is that early data suggest that this vaccine may not be quite as effective as the other vaccines against the delta variant of the virus.
After receiving either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, a small number of people have had a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, which can occur after any type of vaccination. These have occurred in about two to five people per million vaccinated, and while serious, they are treatable—this is why people are asked to stick around for 15 to 30 minutes after getting a shot.
The CDC is currently investigating higher than normal rates of suspected myocarditis (heart inflammation) in adolescents and young adults who have received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. These incidents are rare, and in 81 percent of suspected cases with a known outcome, patients have fully recovered. Any longer-term side effect is extremely unlikely, according to the CDC. Typically, any vaccine side effects would emerge during these first two months after immunization. Moreover, it’s difficult to clearly link any adverse health events that occur after two months with a vaccination. But regulators will continue to monitor vaccine trial participants for two years to see how long immunity lasts and note any adverse events.
Initial reports of several severe but treatable potentially life-threatening allergic reactions called anaphylaxis raised concern about whether the vaccines would be safe for people with severe allergies. There were 71 cases of anaphylaxis reported after the first 18 million vaccine doses were administered in the U.S. That works out to 2.8 cases of anaphylaxis per 1 million people vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine and 5 cases per 1 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with no reported deaths linked to anaphylaxis. The risks of dying from COVID-19 are much worse—about 16,500 people per 1 million diagnosed with COVID-19 will die. Now, the only people being told to avoid the vaccine are those allergic to vaccine ingredients such as polyethylene glycol or the related substance polysorbate.
Of course, the most dangerous allergy is the allergy to science and fact that apparently afflicts a significant percentage of the American population.
Share his post with any non-vaccinated folks for whom facts might still be persuasive…
28 thoughts on “COVID Facts And Fictions”
Facts, science, research – yeah yeah yeah. But what does my congresswoman who failed the GED three times say?
The cases of anaphylaxis after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, also, are kinda dubious, given that there is literally almost nothing in either vaccine that one *could* be allergic to. Chances are much better that most of those cases are panic attacks.
Reading over the publicly-available data sheets, we see that they contain lipids, mRNA, buffers, and sucrose.
There are extremely rare cases of people being allergic to some of the lipids reported in the medical literature. But those people would generally already know who they were, because those same lipids are used really widely in virtually every other medication on the planet. Most of the lipids are things like cholesterol, which everyone’s body makes even if you don’t consume any, and being allergic to it would be incompatible with life. If you know you’re allergic to one of the lipids in the Pfizer vaccine, you could get the Moderna vaccine instead, and vice versa.
mRNA is similarly not something you can be allergic to and still be alive. The protein it codes for can evoke an immune response, duh, that’s what a vaccine does. But if you are going to have an anaphylactic response to the COVID spike protein, you’re going to have an even worse one to actual COVID, which is covered in spike protein. The mRNA itself is just mRNA, which all of your cells have plenty of.
Most of the buffers are such scary things as common household vinegar, table salt, etc – these are again things that you literally cannot be allergic to and still be alive. There is I think one buffer that isn’t found in everyone’s kitchens, but the same deal applies – in the extremely rare case that you were allergic to it, you probably already know because it’s so widely used in so many other medications, and it’s not in both of them, so you could avoid it by taking the other vaccine that doesn’t contain it.
Sucrose is common white sugar. Despite the orthorexic rhetoric about sugar being poison, it’s not really something that someone can be allergic to and still be alive.
Every medical professional I’ve spoken with about it has agreed that these reported cases of anaphylaxis are almost undoubtedly panic attacks. Having had a panic attack myself about five years ago, I absolutely respect the power of runaway emotional and hormonal responses to perceived danger and the near-imperviousness to reason that they can evoke (during my panic attack, I remember asking myself if perhaps this was a panic attack rather than a heart attack, and being certain that no, it couldn’t possibly be, even though I literally have a doctorate in clinical psychology and have a *lot* of very specific training around precisely this issue). So I agree with the idea of providing a built-in environmental placebo by requiring people to sit around and be observed so that they will be confident that they will be safe and that they will receive appropriate treatment. But these responses are almost definitely not actually life-threatening, it’s just that they’re safer and easier to manage if they happen in the vaccine clinic rather than while you’re driving home.
A panic attack cannot be mistaken for anaphylaxis. So when “you” say these reported cases are “almost undoubtedly”, as a retired emergency department nurse, from whom do these reports come?
Trying to understand the hesitancy to get a vaccine, I’m reminded of the story about a man whose house is starting to flood – a jeep, a boat and helicopter try to rescue him, but he refuses saying “God will rescue me.” When he drowns and gets to heaven he asks God why he didn’t save him, God replies – “I sent you a jeep, a boat and a helicopter. What more could I have done for you?”
Anderson Cooper had a segment on with one of the field reporters that went to Alabama to talk to people about their reluctance to get vaccinated. One woman said her 8 year old child has been sick from covid for weeks and will “probably” go back to the doctor with him. Asked if she would get the vaccine now she replied “no, I don’t trust the government.” Too bad the reporter didn’t come back with this…”the government didn’t make the vaccine, the scientists did. They just made it available to the public, for free.”
Thank you for this.
I met with a 39-yr old father of two young kids for a burger and beer the other evening and I was shocked when he told me neither he nor his wife had been vaccinated. The reason he gave was that there just wasn’t enough data about them yet to feel comfortable. Now this guy graduated from college but with a degree in Parks & Rec, so I almost laughed out loud but I composed myself long enough to ask just what data he needed to feel more comfortable.
He said for starters it’s not yet even approved by the FDA! So I ended that part of our conversation there and told him to consider the basic facts of known mortality of Covid, and especially the Delta variant, versus the known mortality of the vaccines. But then I brought up what happened to our next-door-neighbor’s daughter-in-law of 40. She and her husband also rejected vaccines and both contracted Covid. He got over it but she’s what’s called a long-hauler. It’s been over 9 months and she still has not recovered her sense of smell or tastes. Such a condition can lead to serious psychological challenges.
I could tell I had gotten his attention with the story about the long-hauler. I’m not sure why that would rattle him more than the very real prospect of dying or losing one of his family members but if it nudges he and his bride towards getting a jab, I guess I’ve done all I can do.
It seems the majority on this blog favor vaccine as the science-backed means to control Covid.
The digital Vaccine ID was implemented in Europe in June-July, 2021 to enable portable verification of who has, and who has not, been injected with the Vaccine.
Is the digital Vaccine I.D. the optimal means of determining who in the U.S. has, and who has not, taken the Covid vaccine?
“…for whom facts might still be persuasive…”
Ah, and there’s the problem. There’s a huge battle at the hospital where I work, between the ~60% who are vaccinated, and the ~40% that are refusing (either by medical or religious exemption, or by facing firing by refusing the vaccine). This is a place full of educated people, many of them medically educated. They have access to some of the best knowledge available; we had hourly updates during the worst of the pandemic. Yet, the ignorance that pours from them on our intranet, the blind ignorance – it sickens me. The company continues to offer information, to try to allay their fears…and it makes no difference, because it isn’t that they REALLY want to ‘know more’ or ‘see proof’…. this is ‘murica! They have FREEDOM! They have the RIGHT to control their own bodies!! (Oh the irony!)
If only Darwin could take care of them without injuring others in the process.
I’ve heard some people say they will get the vaccine once it gets final approval from the FDA. It takes months to sort through the data from an ordinary trial with a few thousand subjects. These vaccines will have the largest cohorts in the history of the FDA for this final phase trial. Hopefully FDA doesn’t feel it necessary to sift through ALL of the data, as is their custom, before giving final approval.
After reading about the side effects of number two, I decided to experiment. I took a dose of Häagen-Dazs before receiving the second dose of vaccine. My arm was a little sore the next day, and I felt just enough lethargy to avoid cleaning house. All in all, I consider that a win.
Jane “If only Darwin could take care of them without injuring others in the process.”
Wouldn’t a digital Vaccine ID, issued only to the 60% in the hospital who had received the Covid vaccine injection, and not to the 40% who have not, be the humane solution?
By requiring presentation of a valid Vaccination ID before entry, entirely safe spaces could be created for the informed majority who have been injected with the vaccine for the novel Coronavirus.
It’s known and proven now that when some people know that they can individually assume even an infinitesimal and low consequence risk to significantly benefit humans collectively they will refuse.
That is how addicted we’ve become to comfort and people entertaining us.
Gordon; when receiving the vaccine our information is entered into the computer. When going for the 2nd vaccine at a totally different location, they pull up our information on that computer. Those who received the single-dose vaccine are entered into the same computer system so records are kept digitally. That is how the national counts are maintained; are they only available in our home state or are state records of individuals maintained nationally? Are those digital IDs in Europe maintained country by country or for the full continent?
As Shelia said, “Yeah, I know. Dreaming…”
From The Guardian: Covid-19 ward at Methodist University hospital in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Behind each of the 25 doors is a single patient held in isolation, some visible between white slatted blinds. Many lay prone, hooked up to oxygen tanks. About 95% of Covid-19 patients here are unvaccinated, in line with state and national trends.
Physicians are already planning to move to an expanded ward, twice the size, as they prepare for more patients in the coming days. Some are now referring to this as the fourth surge.
Also from The Guardian: Republican lawmakers across more than a dozen states are working to limit the powers of local health departments in ways experts say is likely to lead to “preventable tragedies” during disease outbreaks, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many of the limits on public health measures have also come with the imprimatur of one of the most powerful and well-financed conservative legislative machines in the country – the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec).
Alec began circulating model legislation related to Covid-19 as early as last April.
It would not be a stretch to blame The Trumpet for most of this resistance to the Covid 19 vaccines. From the very beginning The Trumpet tried to downplay Covid-19 through various lies and mis-information. As I wrote here a few days ago The Trumpet was the ventriloquist and elected GOP Officials, with few exceptions were his dummies.
The Trumpet and his political dummies turned the Covid-19 health crisis into a political litmus test: No masks , no vaccines.
Ignorance is not bliss. I don’t know how people responded with the polio vaccine. It would be informative to look at how doctors and the government encouraged people to take it. I am glad my parents made sure all of us got vaccines. I think that in the 50’s people trusted medical science and the government more.
If every American who did not have significant risk( per their doctor’s recommendations) had stepped up to take the vaccine, we could easily have exported more vaccines to other countries. The resistance to vaccines not only affects Americans but people all over the world.
Every crisis brings out the best and the worst in us. I am deeply disturbed by how COVID has brought out the worst in so many people. The news media rarely gives us stories of people practicing compassion towards others in the face of this pandemic. Conservative media outlets have continued to misinform the citzenry. I note that as the virus has mutated, and the pandemic has continued, people’s motivation to continue practicing compassion has been significantly eroded.
It is evident to me that some people would prefer to die instead of trusting medical science and the current administration. I heard anti-vaxxers on PBS in small Arkansas communities. It was apparent that their paranoia had undermined their ability to engage in sane reasoning. These are the people who refuse to change and move into the 21st century. According to Darwin, they are a highly endangered sub culture of the human race.
The symptoms of a panic attack tend to be very different from anaphylactic shock. Usually with a panic attack there is hyperventilation but with anaphylactic shock people go into cardiac arrest very quickly. Epinephrine would make a panic attack worse. A benzodiazepine is not indicated in anaphylactic shock. Even so, I suspect that doctors will choose to give an epi shot first. People don’t die from panic attacks, but they do die from anaphylactic shock.
And in the mean time, I am hoping I don’t have a “breakthrough infection”. I face my fear and choose to remain courageously compassionate and calm in the face of so much tragedy and divisiveness. Due to the delta variant, I will probably start wearing a mask in public spaces again. I would rather err on the side of safety. I hope all of you can do the same.
Peggy – Apparently I am one of few who experienced utterly none of the side effects occasioned by my two Moderna shots a few months ago. Nada! And when I read of six or eight blood clots per zillion of exposures incident to taking the shots I have to wonder if those blood clots were going to happen shots or no shots – and even if they are tied to taking the shots I like the odds, odds considerably better than my being struck by lightning on, uh, a clear day.
I am so logically fatigued by these no shot people that I (contrary to Sheila’s hope) doubt that we can have a “productive discussion,” a phrase that suggests open mindedness when there is none. However, as a moral proposition (if none other) we are called upon to hammer away on the virtues of “taking your shots” since no other rational alternatives are available to us – or whether they know it or not – them.
Jane. “This is a place full of educated people, many of them medically educated. “
Why are 40% of those at your hospital choosing to remain unvaccinated against Covid? Why do they disagree with hospital management’s policy?
You’ve written, “The company continues to offer information, to try to allay their fears…and it makes no difference,”
A hospital can fire staff who disagree with its Covid treatment and prevention policies, but how is hospital management to respond to patients, and their personal physicians, who disagree with the hospital regarding Covid treatment?
We noted on this blog on 7/22/21, in some of those Covid positive cases in New York and Illinois, patients have hired The Law Office of Ralph C. Lorigo of West Seneca, NY to sue the hospital and obtain a judicial order compelling the hospital to administer the Covid therapeutic prescribed by the patient’s physician.
Gerald, I’m another who experienced no side effects from the Pfizer shots. I don’t know whether I’m just lucky that way, or the shots failed to stimulate my immune system. I belong to the highly vulnerable group (over 80), and there is at least one publication that reported significantly fewer antibodies to the spike protein after vaccination in this group. The only way to tell is to look for the antibodies in a blood sample. I don’t know if doctor’s offices or hospital labs are equipped to do that or not.
This is one of the most impressive exchanges during the reign of Sheila’s blog. Aimee Yermish set the bar pretty darn high with her contribution.
My wife and I scooted immediately to take our Pfizer vaccinations this past January with no further side effects than when we get a flu shot.
Freedom riders among the unvaccinated may have to find out the hard way … the Coronavirus could care less about their civil liberties for the right to just say no.
It am fairly confident that at this point the people refusing to be vaccinated are so invested in their delusions that there is no fact base argument that will convince them to consider that they might be wrong.
One thing that I have seen work on a few people is money. The sawmill my son and son-in-law work for offered $500 bonus to everyone who gets any of the COVID Vaccines, My son-in-law took em up on it and my son refused… my son has, sadly, bought in to the Patriot, FREEDOM, anti-reason paranoia…
OK – let’s start by being snarky
I am a scientist. I have a PhD; I was trained in research and reviewing papers before publication.
Today’s MDs are not.
Some of the best scientists I know have MD degrees.
Some of the most scientifically illiterate (except perhaps in their own field, I’m calling out Rand Paul here) have MD degrees. The anti-vax, bleach proponents, etc. can find some MD to say they are correct. They may even find some wacko PhD (I don’t exonerate all in my “clade” either)
I think Sheila’s cousin did an excellent job in laying out the facts. If anything, I would expand on anaphylaxis. When it happens, it is quick. If you make it past 20-30 minutes, it won’t happen. It is also common enough that they developed a fast effective treatment, the epipen. It almost always works and quickly. It is used for vaccines, nut allergies, bee stings, and more – all causes of anaphylaxis.
Anecdote – my wife thought she was having a reaction to the Pfizer vaccine, she said her tongue had swollen. The nurse, wisely, gave her two anti-histamines, which did the trick. The professionals who administer the vaccines can generally be trusted to recognize the immediate reactions to the inoculation.
Gordon – we could have electronic “vaccination passports” to supplement the pieces of paper they give out, but we won’t. This is the land of the “cowboy”, the rugged individual, don’t tread on me, I don’t need no stinkin’ vaccine, or mask.
No electronic passports.
Robin – I was rather young, but I don’t remember any resistance to the polio vaccine, either Salk or Sabin. I am sure there were some antivaxxers then, but they weren’t very vocal or public. I also remember being required to get the smallpox vaccine, and get it again to travel overseas. I think the strong, widespread, vocal reactions are a new phenomenon.
Thanks to all responders and Sheila and your Cousin.
I wonder how many chosen anti-jabbers are sitting around drinking Coke; eating Fries and high fat Burgers; drinking unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages; even , perhaps smoking or vaping or taking in restricted drugs; as they go on about freedom to make “their own” healthy choices regarding “their own lives”. So much for intelligent discernment in what is better or best even for their own health and well-being, not even looking at the betterment for their families and communities and society at large.
Perhaps a different, broadened context perhaps more in alignment with the overall reality of all our lives.
Len, just an fyi, most physician researchers also have a PhD. Some don’t, of course, but any M.D. who has a university affiliation will have the expertise to review research both on the front end to approve government funded research and on the back end, to review publication of research. I have seen research that was brilliant disapproved by peer review groups who didn’t really understand what was being proposed. That generally has been fixed in the next cycle by the investigator, who responds to comments from the panel. As an aside, sometimes the investigator writes what I like to call a “Jane, you ignorant slut,” letter, which a good administrator will get fixed prior to re-submission.
Gordon: I received a paper certificate of my vaccination record (Moderna) in the mail, gave them a brand new International Certificate of Vaccination booklet (from Amazon) that they stamped with the lot numbers of the vaccine and a digital certificate with a bar code for my phone in case I travel. This digital certificate is good even though Switzerland is not in the EU, but is recognized by the EU. It is being debated in the UK if they will allow the Swiss certificate. From the US Embassy in Bern Switzerland, there are still restrictions on who and why you can travel to and from the states. We vaccinated still have to submit a rapid test (negative) on boarding a flight out of the country and a PCR test to some locations along with contract tracing forms submitted to the airline and customs upon landing. Just FYI
Joan, I know a *lot* of MDs and PhD-level medical researchers. Also, I was a molecular biologist before I was a psychologist. I don’t pull things like this out of my ass. (Amusingly enough, the RN who gave me my first shot and the EMT who gave me my second shot agreed, also.)
Furthermore, the reports of “anaphylaxis” as described in the medical literature do not match the typical symptoms and course of anaphylaxis. Most notably, they lasted about 15-20 minutes, and cleared up on their own without the use of an epi-pen or antihistamines. And they occurred, as I pointed out, in the absence of any actual realistically potential allergen. Most people associate vaccines with allergies because most vaccines are produced in chicken eggs. The mRNA vaccines are not. We’ve got tons of people who are convinced that the COVID vaccines will make them magnetic or infertile or whatever other lie has been spewed at them. Convincing them falsely that they might have an anaphylactic attack is *easy*.
I also know that panic attacks are *really* powerful, way more powerful than people who haven’t had one generally realize. It’s very different from an anxiety attack, which is garden-variety awful and also heavily somaticized in many people, but would never be mistaken for anaphylaxis, I agree. People who are suffering from a panic attack, during the attack itself, will generally be *absolutely* convinced that they are dying by whatever means they think they would be dying — usually, it’s “I’m having a heart attack” or “I am completely and irreversibly losing control of my mental faculties.” They are not saying that they are stressed and they feel really bad. They are saying that they are *dying*, and nothing you say to them will convince them otherwise.
When I had a panic attack myself, despite actually thinking, “hey, maybe this is a panic attack,” I immediately came back to myself with “no, people too often fail to believe women when they report serious medical problems, especially heart attacks, I know a hell of a lot about anxiety, this is *definitely* a heart attack!!1!” and I snapped immediately back to being certain that it was a heart attack. *Plenty* of actual medical testing showed that it definitely had *not* been a heart attack, and the cardiologist and I had a very good conversation about anxiety and panic and how I could make a realistic safety plan that would respect the possibility of an actual heart attack and my losing consciousness before being able to call 911 (heart disease does run in my family) while also giving me a chance to treat the far more likely case of panic attack (chomp on four baby aspirin, tell someone I trust to call 911 if I don’t tell them not to within 5 minutes, and then work on relaxing and dealing with the panic).
Gerald, yes, the basic question of “what is the base rate of this medical finding in the comparable population who didn’t just receive this vaccine?” is key. Post hoc does not prove propter hoc, but it does raise the question. And that’s precisely what the scientists are watching for as we get more data from the general population.
Anti-vaxxers have been making a lot of noise about “X number of people died after receiving the COVID vaccine,” leaving out the fact that the first wave of people receiving the vaccine were mostly elderly people and people with multiple medical comorbidities, who have a high rate of death from other causes not attributable to the vaccine.
However, in the case of the blood clots from the J&J vaccine in mid-adult women, these are a very unusual type of blood clot, in which the typical treatments are counterproductive, and they were occurring in a much higher fraction of the comparable population. That one does look like a real effect. Which is a bummer, because in my state, which for some stupid reason refused to prioritize schoolteachers, teachers primarily got the J&J vaccine because that was the one the federal government was giving out to teachers, and those mid-adult women are also a higher fraction of the teacher population than they are of the general population. Sigh.
“Why are 40% of those at your hospital choosing to remain unvaccinated against Covid? Why do they disagree with hospital management’s policy?”
The reasons shift, but are variations of: it’s not FDA approved, I’m not going to be a guinea pig; I have the right to decide what’s put on my body; if you’re vaccinated why do you care if I am; I want to get pregnant/father kids/it hasn’t been tested on pregnant women; etc etc etc. as well as various forms of “you can’t make me, the constitution says I have religious freedom “
“You’ve written, “The company continues to offer information, to try to allay their fears…and it makes no difference,””
Yes that’s true. There’s a vocal and ignorant group that, no matter what you say to their “main” objection, will then shift their focus to another one(see above).
“A hospital can fire staff who disagree with its Covid treatment and prevention policies, but how is hospital management to respond to patients, and their personal physicians, who disagree with the hospital regarding Covid treatment?”
And they intend to do just that, termination dates are upcoming. However, as I said, they can apply for medical or religious exemption, and while I don’t know what success there has been with the medical requests, I doubt they will be able to deny the religious ones. And yes, people lie. And are proud of it. And these are the same people I’m expected to trust to mask up in my office space on the “honor” system.
As for physicians who disagree, if they are our staff, they are also under the same mandate as all other staff. Patients and outside physicians- well, that’s part of what we are protecting ourselves from, and why we participated in offering free testing and vaccines- to help our communities.
Peggy – A delayed response
I think you will find more MD researchers than MD-PhDs
You seem to be looking at MDs involved in research; I am not. Most only see a hospital to see patients, perhaps some do teaching rounds for diagnostics, and they keep up with their field. The typical Family Practice, Internist, or specialist is not trained in research.
It is the Rand Paul’s with whom I have a problem, and those appearing on Fox News and youtube videos.
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