Category Archives: Coronavirus

Change My Mind: Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Fails to Prevent Death Over Six Months

Alea iacta est

I ran across a pre-print placebo-controlled scientific study looking at results of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination over the course six months. The primary take-home point for me is that the vaccine did not prevent death. Mysteriously, the study authors didn’t discuss the lack of death prevention by the vaccine; I found the data in Figure 1. The vaccine did prevent severe COVID-19 disease.

The scientific name for this particular vaccine is BNT162b2.

Remember that Big Pharma and the CDC have been telling us since November 2020 that the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective (~90% or better) in preventing severe disease and death.

The study at hand looked at 22,000 folks who got two doses of the vaccine and another 22,000 who got a saline placebo. There were 16 deaths in the vaccine group, 15 in placebo.

Thirty-one participants met the CDC’s definition of severe COVID-19; 30 of these were in the placebo group. So the odds of developing severe COVID-19 over six months if not vaccinated were 0.136%. Or one in 735. (Tell me if my math is wrong.) I fully expect the odds are higher if elderly, lower if young.

Among the vaccinated, 77 developed COVID-19. The placebo group had 850 cases. The report doesn’t state a definition of a “COVID-19 case.” I presume a positive PCR nasal swab and one or more of the usual symptoms. Maddeningly, when the mainstream media mentions a case count, the number may include folks with a positive PCR swab but no symptoms.

Most participants were enrolled between August and October 2020. IIRC, the U.S. had a major spike in cases in January 2021. The data cut-off date for this study was March 31, 2021, so many of the participants had significant exposure. Median age for both groups was 51. 76% of participants were in the U.S.

The authors note that the risk of developing COVID-19 in the vaccinated tended to rise over time. Vaccine effectiveness declined about 6% every two months. A booster vaccination might be recommended at some point. Pfizer’s CEO revealed this a couple months ago.

For all I know, the linked-to pre-print article above is a hoax. These data are not going to help Pfizer sell more vaccine! If the pre-print is legit, I assume Pfizer was somehow compelled to publish the results.

This preprint reports new research that has not been certified by peer review and should not be used to guide clinical practice.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t The Last Refuge

Do You Have Any Recourse If Injured By the COVID-19 Vaccine?

needle, syringe, vaccine, vaccination, covid-19
The vaccination needle probably won’t be this large

I know it’s a little early to be asking that question. Within a year, an unknown number of you will be asking. Where do you go for satisfaction? The CICP: Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program. Forget about suing the vaccine manufacturer, distributor, or medical practitioner who jabbed you. They got the federal government to absolve them of liability in most cases. If injured, you need to file your claim within a year of vaccination.

As far as I know, this program only applies to U.S. residents. Perhaps only U.S. citizens.

Here’s an excerpt from a related fedgov program, the NVICP web page:

Vaccines save lives by preventing disease.

Most people who get vaccines have no serious problems. Vaccines, like any medicines, can cause side effects, but most are very rare and very mild. Some health problems that follow vaccinations are not caused by vaccines.

In very rare cases, a vaccine can cause a serious problem, such as a severe allergic reaction.  

In these instances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a VICP-covered vaccine. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, petitioners may receive compensation through a settlement. 

Many physicians in my community are excited and lined up to take the COVID-19 vaccine. But not me. I even have risk factors for more serious COVID-19 disease: age 66 and hypertension. After reviewing what little data are available from the Warp Speed vaccine trials, I’m not convinced the vaccines are safe enough for me. I’ll take my chances with the virus rather than the vaccine. I’m not afraid of dying from COVID-19; if that happens I’ll be in heaven with Jesus. I’ve lived a full and lucky life, blessed by a wonderful wife, fantastic children, good health, missed Viet Nam by a few years, no major economic upheaval. My biggest concern about catching the virus is the burden it would lay on my co-workers if I’m off-duty for 1 to 3 weeks.

At her age, great odds of surviving COVID-19

That said, if I were older and had other co-morbidities, I might take the vaccine now. When we have more long-term data on vaccine safety, I might take the vaccine. It could take up to a couple years before we have that data.

I am not anti-vaccine, in general. As a child I got the vaccines for polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, and probably diphtheria, maybe others. I took the hepatitis B vaccine as an adult because I’m exposed to blood from my patients. I’m due for another tetanus booster and will take it without reservation.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I’m doing everything I can to optimize my health and immune system, including weight management and regular exercise.

PPS: Pharmacist Scott Gavura at Science Based Medicine provides a table comparing vaccination vs catching the virus vs hydroxychloroquine treatment. He implies my odds of death from COVID-19 infection are two out of a hundred (2%). I don’t think it’s nearly that high.

PPPS: Click for an interesting article on CICP at the Centre for Research on Globalization. I have no idea of its accuracy.

Covid-19 Vaccine?: Maybe, Maybe Not

professor, equations
The governments “top men” are working on it

Peter Doshi, an associate editor at British Medical Journal, is not favorably impressed with the recent vaccine trial announcements. “90% effective.” “95% effective!”

Coronavirus guru Anthony Fauci assures us that a coronavirus vaccine will only be FDA-approved if it’s “safe and effective.”

From Doshi:

But what will it mean exactly when a vaccine is declared “effective”? To the public this seems fairly obvious. “The primary goal of a covid-19 vaccine is to keep people from getting very sick and dying,” a National Public Radio broadcast said bluntly.

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, “Ideally, you want an antiviral vaccine to do two things . . . first, reduce the likelihood you will get severely ill and go to the hospital, and two, prevent infection and therefore interrupt disease transmission.”

Yet the current phase III trials are not actually set up to prove either. None of the trials currently under way are designed to detect a reduction in any serious outcome such as hospital admissions, use of intensive care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.

Will COVID-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren’t designed to tell us.
elderly man, face mask
Do you ever wonder why we didn’t see widespread use face masks during a typical flu season in the past?

Switching gears to the flu vaccine for a minute. The flu vaccine’s been a godsend in preventing influenza death among the frail elderly, right? Not so fast there, pardner. Doshi again:

But the truth is that the science remains far from clear cut, even for influenza vaccines that have been used for decades. Although randomised trials have shown an effect in reducing the risk of symptomatic influenza, such trials have never been conducted in elderly people living in the community to see whether they save lives.

Only two placebo controlled trials in this population have ever been conducted, and neither was designed to detect any difference in hospital admissions or deaths.

Moreover, dramatic increases in use of influenza vaccines has not been associated with a decline in mortality.

The Moderna and Pfizer trials enrolled 30,000 and 44,000 participants, respectively. That sounds like a lot of people to be vaccinated. But they only vaccinate half the folks. The other have serve as a control group. Next, the investigators track the occurrence of coronavirus events over time, then compare the two groups. An “event” may be anything from a cough plus positive COVID-19 PCR test, to hospitalization or death. Of course, they also look at potential adverse effect of vaccination, comparing the two groups.

The trials aren’t going to give us good information on COVID-19 hospitalizations and death rates because those outcomes are so infrequent. Most people with symptomatic COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms; there are relatively few cases of serious disease in a general population of 30,000.

Who needs a safe and effective vaccine the most?

  • Those over 60-65
  • Anybody seriously immunocompromised (i.e., a poor immune system too weak to fight infection).

Immunocompromised people are excluded from the seven ongoing trials. So these trials focus on those over 60, right? Wrong. The Moderna trial eligibility started at age 18. Pfizer’s accepted 12-year-olds.

Surely the vaccine trials will have some participants over 60-years-old. There just may not be enough to generate clinically meaningful data on serious disease outcomes and adverse effects in the elderly.

Steven Novella says Moderna developed their vaccine with a grant from the U.S. government. Pfizer funded themselves. Each vaccine has cost over two billion dollars to develop. They will be the first ever mRNA vaccines approved by the FDA. Our other vaccines are based on different technology. Both vaccines require two shots, 28 days apart.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I am not generally anti-vaccination.

A Modest Proposal to Revive the U.S. Economy #COVID19 #Coronavirus

 

Will we allow coronavirus to destroy the fabric of American life?

I propose a four-point plan to prevent a prolonged economic recession or depression in the U.S. caused by unjustified fear and panic about coronavirus:

  1. Young and middle-aged healthy adults go back to work now.
  2. Young and middle-aged healthy adults and children return to usual social interactions and school, using 6-foot distancing and face masks if desired.
  3. Extreme social distancing for those at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 for the next 2–3 months, then re-evaluate the situation. The goal is NO EXPOSURE  to those who may transmit the virus to them. Protect the medically frail who are over 60, particularly if over 70 or 80.
  4. Continued isolation of COVID-19 cases until they’re no longer infectious.

My presuppositions:

  • A large majority of the COVID-19 deaths and serious illness will be in the elderly (over 60-65) and/or those with risk factors for serious illness, as we’ve seen in Italy, China, and South Korea.
  • Those under 60-65 will have less severe illness and be much less likely to require hospitalization.
  • The pandemic in the U.S. is not going to be as bad as predictions you may have heard or read (e.g., 500,000 to 2.2 million deaths), in part due to actions already taken: isolation of cases, self-quarantine or mandated quarantine, social distancing, education on infection prevention, etc).
  • The recent $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress is unlikely to be very effective, particularly after the bureaucrats, politicians, major banks, and Big Business take their usual lions share. There won’t be much left for little guys like you and me.
  • “Relief packages” passed by politicians are not the answer. Government is more of a problem than a solution.
  • GM and Ford, et al, can’t make 50,000 ventilators in 3–4 weeks. By the time they’re ready, they won’t be needed.
  • The situation is quite fluid and helpful medical information arrives daily. So we need to stay light on our feet and ready to incorporate it.
  • The role of quarantine isn’t clear even now. We need more information. If a nurse treats a COVID-19 patient at the hospital, should she be on quarantine for two weeks or can she keep working? At what point do folks without symptoms start shedding virus that can infect others?
  • We’re seeing a power grab by federal and state governments that is unjustified and unprecedented in our lifetimes. For instance, a Florida pastor was arrested for holding a church service in violation of social distancing. Doesn’t the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution give us the right to peaceably assemble and freely exercise our religion? Once grabbed, government does not readily relinquish power. For more on this issue, read Peter Grant’s April 1 blog post.
  • Behavior of those living in COVID-19 hot spots like New Orleans or New York city may need to be different from those living elsewhere.
  • Extreme social distancing of those at risk or serious illness from COVID-19 may well require them to withdraw from the workforce for several months (or longer), but that’s much less harmful than what is essentially “house arrest” of 80–90% of the population.
  • Our list of conditions that increase serious risk from COVID-19 may well change over time as we learn more.
  • Increased testing to identify those infected with coronavirus will help us devise better containment measures. Containment will also be easier when we can identify—via antibody testing—those who have already been infected and are cured and (hopefully) immune to the current strain of the virus.

The problem with state-mandated or encouraged social distancing is that it’s strangling our economy.

Physicians, virologists, and epidemiologists who are advising our politicians are typically focused on medical aspects of the coronavirus epidemic. Economics is on the back burner, naturally, since that’s not their area of expertise. But the economy matters!

Post-viral apocalypse? Raccoon City?

In the U.S. in February 2020, 165 million people were in the labor force. For the week ended March 21, 2020, the U.S. set a record for unemployment benefits applications: 3.3 million. The very next week, a new record was set: 6.6 million. Economists are predicting a drop in 2nd quarter Gross Domestic Product of at least 20%.

In good times, most folk don’t apprehend the web of connections among various parts of the economy. They will soon find out.

From LexisNexis:

Unemployment has been linked with a number of psychological disorders, particularly anxiety, depression, and substance abuse; dangerous behaviors including suicide and violence toward family members or others also correlate with unemployment. These associations hold true not only in surveys of those already unemployed but also in studies that follow one or several individuals with no psychological difficulties into a period of unemployment. Such findings have been reported from many industrialized nations and, with some minor variations, apply to workers of both sexes and all ages.

Research regarding the consequences of unemployment may be confounded by a commensurate loss of income in subjects being studied. However, some studies try to account for this phenomenon of drop in socioeconomic status. Although an alert health care system may provide some needed assistance, resolution of the problem lies outside the field of medicine.

For example regarding suicide, among the unemployed aged 26 to 64 suicide was two-and-a-half times more likely than those who had jobs. Worldwide, one in five suicides is linked to unemployment. In 2017, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 47,000 victims. At the time of this posting, the U.S. has reported 5,137 deaths from COVID-19.

Bankruptcies and unemployment will lead to an epidemic of despair.

dementia, memory loss, Mediterranean diet, low-carb diet, glycemic index, dementia memory loss

“Honey, we’ll be able to see the grandkids in few months. It’s just too dangerous right now.”

Additionally, the stock markets in the U.S—S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average—are already down by 20–30%, depending on the day you check. I wouldn’t be surprised if it drops another 20% or more from here. Imagine how that affects folks approaching retirement, or in it already, who are depending on their 401k’s to live.

Laid-off workers without a paycheck can’t pay their mortgages or car payments or other loans. In most jurisdictions, unemployment benefits are woefully inadequate: in Arizona it’s $240/week. This is a set-up for massive loan defaults. One silver lining: If you have cash, it may soon be buyer’s market for homes and new or used cars.

Panicking is rarely good. Let’s stop.

Expect more from me on Extreme Social Distancing in a future post.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: A few other sources that question the mainstream media’s and government narratives…

PPS: The history of the Coronavirus Pandemic will be written in the the next few years. I have no doubt it will look different than what we’re seeing now.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

Housekeeping: Future Posts About #Coronavirus #COVID19

Artist’s conception of coronavirus

I’ve been cross-posting about coronavirus and COVID-19 among my three blogs. In view of time limitations and efficiency, I’m going to be posting nearly all my coronavirus thoughts at Advanced Mediterranean Diet. Check it out if interested.

Thus far I haven’t treated a confirmed case of COVID-19 although I’m a full-time hospitalist in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ve been off-duty for four days but return to work soon. If the mainstream media is correct, I’m about to be overwhelmed by cases. So far, I’m overwhelmed by the damage this thing is doing to our economy.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

Here Are the Specific Conditions That Increase Your Risk of Serious #CoronaVirus Infection #COVID-19

This mask probably won’t protect her.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control website notes that the you are at risk for serious—even life-threatening—illness from Coronavirus if you are over age 60–65 or have a serious chronic medical condition, like…

  • heart disease
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • lung disease

Well, there are at least a couple hundred heart diseases, a couple hundred kidney diseases, a couple hundred lung diseases, and at least three kinds of diabetes. There are entire thick medical textbooks written specifically for heart disease, lung disease, and kidney disease. All of those individual diseases don’t make you particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus.

And what’s a “serious condition?” Doctors don’t always tell you how serious a disorder is, and patients don’t always hear and remember when the doctor does. So you have a heart murmur. It’s likely chronic but is it serious? It depends.

I’ve even seen hypertension listed as a risk factor for serious flu complications, but I don’t believe it.

And what’s chronic? Say five years ago you had a mild heart attack, a stent was put in the only blocked artery, you take your prescribed drugs, and your doctor told you last month you’re doing great. Do you still have a serious chronic medical ailment?

By the way, physicians are calling the disease caused by Coronavirus “COVID-19.”

Is Age Really Important?

Yes. Here’s a chart from the report of UK’s Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team dated March 16, 2020:

Age-specific hospitalization and ICU admission rates from the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team

TL;DR version: The need for hospitalization and ICU (intensive care unit) admission starts to rise dramatically for patients aged 50-59 and shoots up from there. If you make it into the ICU with COVID-19, you’ll quite likely have a tube down your throat and be on a ventilator (a mechanical “breathing machine”), or getting ECMO.

BTW, the Response Team figures you have only a 50:50 chance of surviving if you end up on a ventilator.

How Do I Know If I Have a Serious Chronic Medical Condition?

If you’re uncertain, the answer should come from your personal medical specialist or primary care physician. I know many of you will be unsure.

Here’s a simple test you can do to see if you might have a serious chronic medical condition:

  • Walk up two flights of stairs without stopping

If you can’t do that without stopping to rest and without much shortness-of-breath (you should be able to carry on a conversation): you flunk. Possible explanations (among many) include serious heart or lung disease, being badly overweight, or just “out of shape” from lack of regular exercise. A couple of those conditions you can rectify, and should.

Artist’s rendition of coronavirus

If You Have One of the Following Conditions, You Need to Be Extra Careful When Coronavirus Is Around

Having practiced medicine for over three decades—and I’ll keep practicing until I get it right—here’s my current list of conditions that raise your risk of serious disease if you contract Coronavirus:

  • age over 60–65 (may not be much of a risk factor if you are otherwise healthy, physically fit, and eat well)
  • needing supplemental oxygen at home, whether continuously, at night only, or just as needed
  • moderate or severe valvular heart disease, whether the valve is leaky or blocked
  • a weak heart muscle called cardiomyopathy with left ventricular ejection fraction under 50% or on home oxygen
  • history of congestive heart failure with current left ventricular ejection fraction under 50% or on home oxygen
  • moderate to severe diastolic heart failure (sometimes call “heart failure with preserved ejection fraction”)
  • serious coronary artery disease (e.g., frequent chest pains, multiple heart attacks, residual blockages in arteries)
  • asthma that requires daily drugs or that has frequent or severe exacerbations
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or emphysema requiring daily scheduled drugs or frequent “as needed” drugs or home oxygen
  • chronic liver disease (such as cirrhosis) with serum bilirubin over 2.0 mg/dL or albumin under 3.0 g/dL or elevated prothrombin time
  • serious active cancer, particularly if on chemotherapy that suppresses the immune system
  • prior organ transplant requiring immunosuppressive drug therapy to prevent organ rejection
  • immunoglobulin deficiency
  • very sedentary lifestyle
  • poor nutrition and/or malnutrition
  • morbid obesity
  • body mass index over 35
  • on chronic corticosteroid therapy
  • end-stage renal disease on dialysis
  • chronic kidney disease with serum creatinine over 2 mg/dL
  • nephrotic syndrome
  • diabetes mellitus, especially if poorly controlled and/or concomittant chronic organ impairment such as nephropathy, neuropathy, or retinopathy
  • active autoimmune disease (e.g., systemic lupus erythematosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease), particularly if on drug therapy that impairs immune system function
  • chronic low white blood cell count
  • chronic active infection (e.g., tuberculosis, hepatitis, AIDS)
  • you “always catch what’s going around” (possible immune system disorder or poor hygeine?)

Why Do These Conditions Increase Risk of Serious Illness?

Many of these infirmities impair your immune system and increase your risk of serious complications from any infection, whether viral, bacterial, or fungal. Just as importantly, these disorders may impair your body’s ability to respond to the increased physical stress of infection. Clearly, the more of these ailments you have, the greater your chance of a bad outcome.

Here’s the problem when you come down with flu or any other infection. The infection increases the workload on various organ systems that keep you alive day in and day out. Even if you take an antibiotic or anti-viral drug, you still need various organ systems to keep you alive. I’m thinking particularly about your lungs, cardiovascular, and immune systems, working together at maximal capacity. You heart, for example, pumps about five liters of blood every minute while you’re at rest, blood that’s carrying life-preserving oxygen to all your other organs in addition to the heart muscle. That blood also carries a waste product—carbon dioxide—to your lungs for delivery to the outside world. If you exercise vigorously your heart increases it’s pumping output to twenty liters a minute, if you’re young and healthy. By the same token, your lungs have a certain but limited capacity to take up oxygen from the air and blow off carbon dioxide both at rest and during exercise. As we age, the capacity the heart and lungs to do their jobs diminishes no matter what. Same with the immune system. That’s why folks over 60 are at risk for serious complications from viral and other infections. Because infections increase the workload on the heart, lungs, and immune system. When Coronavirus infects your lungs, fluid and inflammatory debris builds up in the gas-exchanging tissues, impairing your ability to absorb oxygen from the air. So your lungs and heart have to work harder, and long enough for your immune system to eradicate there virus.

I hope you find this list more helpful than CDC’s. Nevertheless, I’m sure it’s incomplete. I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to help you survive the pandemic, as most of us will. Forewarned in forearmed.

If You Have One or More of the Listed Conditions, What Does “Being Extra Careful Around Coronavirus” Mean?

Avoid the virus if at all possible. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and state governments have been issuing guidelines. One major issue is that the virus incubates in the body without symptoms for 5–7 days, and the affected individual may be infectious—shedding the virus that could get into you if you’re nearby—for 24 hours or so before the virus carrier even knows they’re sick. For folks that get sick with the virus, symptoms last for 1–2 weeks, and their oral or respiratory secretions (and feces? tears?) could infect you if the they enter your body via the mouth, nose, or eyes (or gastrointestinal tract?). Even after recovery, infected individuals can shed infectious virus for about a week. Further complicating the situation is that infected individuals may just have mild symptoms like a cough (or runny nose or sneezing?), and won’t be quarantining themselves or avoiding other people. They won’t know they have the virus. Other people can harbor the virus in their bodies and never feel sick—we don’t know how infectious these folks are. So what specifically can you do if you have risk factors for serious disease?

  • Monitor your local news reports to know how common is the virus in your community. If there’s an outbreak there or where your’e going…
  • Avoid crowds (0f 10 people? 50?)
  • Stay home as much as possible.
  • Don’t be around people with symptoms of possible COVID-19: c0ugh, shortness of breath, fever, ?sneezing, ?runny nose. Sure, they could just have common illnesses like bronchitis, pneumonia, hay fever, allergies, the common cold, or a sinus infection. You just don’t know. The virus won’t get into your residence unless you allow an infected person in.
  • Avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places, like hand rails, elevator buttons, door handles, handshakes, etc. If you must touch, cover the surface with a tissue or disinfect it first.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Particularly after touching high-touch surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid cruises, mass transit, air travel. Again: crowds.
  • If you can’t avoid someone who’s coughing or sneezing, offer them a surgical mask.
  • Don’t touch your mouth, nose, or eyes. That’s how germs on your hands can enter you.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: It’s still very early in this pandemic and there’s much we don’t know. Some of the above information is probably wrong. Stay tuned.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

 

Dr Muccioli on #Coronavirus and Diabetes #COVID-19

Artist’s rendition of coronavirus

From Dr Muccioli at Diabetes Daily:

Why are people with diabetes more vulnerable to infections and complications of infections? It has been shown that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for infections and related complications, and, in particular, for various bacterial infections. Although the reasons for this are not completely elucidated yet and are likely multifactorial, research has shown that high blood glucose levels can directly and negatively impact the immune system and that  “…good control of blood sugar in diabetic patients is a desirable goal in the prevention of certain infections and to ensure maintenance of normal host defense mechanisms that determine resistance and response to infection.”As it relates to the COVID-19 outbreak, it follows that maintaining target blood glucose levels is an important preventative strategy for avoiding serious related complications, such as a secondary bacterial infection (i.e., pneumonia) and is likely an important determinant in the patient prognosis for anyone who becomes infected.

Source: Coronavirus & Diabetes: Your Questions Answered – Diabetes Daily

Read the whole thing.

Steve Parker, M.D.