Covid update January 2021
Well I’m back with an update to my last update and I think I may do this as needed as new facts emerge.
Since my last post my wife who is 63 and working as a nurse has received her Pfizer poke. She had no side effects whatever. She even joked that maybe she got a placebo. The politicians, and pharmaceutical pundits continue to hammer home the safety and efficacy of the vaccine which of course is still in question. Vaccine recipients continue to contract the Covid but I have not seen any ICU admissions noted in that small subset and immunity isn’t maximal for at least 4 wks post poke. Deaths are being reported in poke recipients some days later in previously healthy people as well as anaphylactoid or anaphylactic reactions but Pfizer has denied any connection to their miracle drug. A recent death of a healthy 55 yr old OBGYN doctor from Miami is somewhat disturbing. He developed Immune thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) a few days after his first shot and has succumbed recently despite heroic attempts to save him. ITP is a rare disease (2.6 per 100,000) where your platelet count drops precipitously. It often follows viral infections and may resolve spontaneously or become chronic. The doctor’s wife is blaming the Pfizer vaccine but don’t worry if you own Pfizer stock. They enjoy immunity from prosecution which was granted to them by the Trump administration. There have been vaccine disasters in the past. In the 1950’s Cutter Labs put out a flawed batch of polio vaccine to 120000 children. 40000 came down with polio, fifty five were paralyzed and 5 died. The so called killed vaccine hadn’t been killed after all during manufacturing. There have been many other similar stories with poorly tested drugs, Thalidomide being the most notorious. Granting indemnity to a globalized corporation is scandalous in this blogger’s opinion. Some older nursing home patients have also died following the shot but nursing home patients die all the time, right? In the absence of an autopsy or other testing you can’t call it an adverse effect. So says Pfizer. It should be noted that after age 30 the body responds with lower immune responses following vaccination and right now many older folks are the tranche getting these shots despite the fact that people older than 55 were not part of the rushed 2 month Vaccine trials this past summer. I have not yet seen any antibody response analysis in the older groups yet. Clearly there are reactions to the vaccines but whether they are caused by the antigens in the vaccine or added adjuvants or even the virus carcasses used to carry the mRna protein units remains unknown. Pfizer had about 50000 enrolled in their trials as did Moderna but I could not find the exact incidence of “adverse” reactions. Half of the group had salt water of course and adverse reactions to salt water tend to be pretty low.
I who am 76 have not been offered a vaccination but I am holding out for the time being until efficacy/safety data becomes available and I want that data on all the current and proposed vaccines before I receive any shot.
A june 2020 article in Scientific American speculated on whether the coronavirus vaccines might lead to ADE, (antibody dependent enhancement) which is a situation where the vaccine could in fact worsen the consequences of a covid infection. This has been reported in the Dengue Fever vaccines. A recent paper in the J of Inf Diseases just 2 wks ago seems to discount that possibility but after a careful reading of the paper I am not so sure.
The Long Haulers which are the Covid patients with persistent symptoms long after their infection are a growing concern. These are hapless people often with mild infections who develop all manner of symptomatology lasting months and months. These symptoms are varied and sometimes disabling. They include CNS manifestations like headaches, dizziness, “brain fog.”, and depression as well as fatigue, chest, somatic and cardiac pain, myocarditis and pericarditis, rhythm disturbances, as well as shortness of breath, chronic fatigue and the well publicized loss of smell and taste. Treatment has been disappointing and the whole syndrome is poorly understood. Chronic fatigue syndrome has been reported with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS as well as a variety of other virus types. I experienced this about 25 years ago for several months and disabling doesn’t even describe it! I have read 3 papers that list the incidence as over 50% months after the infection. One Italian study said that only one in eight people were free of any persistent symptoms 2 months following. I have also seen a paper long since lost which said the long haul syndrome was far less common. I would be interested to see how common long haul is in vaccinated folks especially those who get reinfected.
Joe Biden intends to have 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days. Let’s say that the incidence of adverse reactions is 1 in a 1000. That means that 100 million people will yield adverse reactions in 100,000 folks if I did my math right. That would be a pretty high rate of adverse events which is way exceeding the incidence of say, influenza vaccines. My final comment recapitulates my previous comment that each of us has to use our own metrics in deciding when and whether to get our shot. I will hold off as long as I can unless my personal situation changes.