Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — May 7, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

  1. Tracking the progress of Connecticut vaccinations

       Q:  Reports say the number of vaccinations is dropping.  How are we really doing? 

       A:  We all know that vaccines work.  The more people who get vaccinated, the more the public becomes immune from being infected.

Percent of People in Connecticut Who Are Fully Vaccinated

As of Last Sunday, May 2, 2021


                                       – Source: Covid Act   

40.0% of Connecticut’s population had been fully vaccinated, leaving 60.0% who are not, further reducing the chance of a mutation emerging within Connecticut.


Vaccination Fact #5: The percentage of fully vaccinated data is an “advisory metric,” not one of the proposed “mandatory metrics” being proposed to identify when the decision can be made to reopen UUS:E. It does not predict when there is an acceptable risk. If a coronavirus-19 variant were to emerge that isn’t affected by the vaccines being used, the other mandatory four metrics would show a surge in risks while the people being vaccinated would simply continue to increase.


  1. India is only one of many “hot spots” of surging COVID-19.         

       Q. What is going on in India where the disease is out of control?      

       A:  News reports over the past few weeks have focused on India with its major outbreak of COVID-19.  At its roots, the cause is a lack of understanding of epidemiology (science) and planning.   The prime minister, Narendra Modi, positively viewed the lowering of the number of new cases in January, and assumed the threat was over.  He allowed large political rallies to take place, and huge crowds to gather nationally for Hindu celebrations.  As new cases surged in late March, no lockdowns were ordered to isolate those who had become infected.  In the last few weeks, with a population about 4 times that of the U.S., the number of new cases each day has been equal to the entire population of Connecticut!   Hospitals and clinics are now running out of oxygen, and what limited supply is available is not organized for priority use.  Large crowds still gather outside of hospitals demanding beds and at mass cremation sites for funeral rituals.  And vaccination rates continue to be very low.

But India is not alone.  Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, and Iran are all facing massive surges in their COVID cases.  All four of these countries are also facing a lack of oxygen supply and lack of adequate hospital care.  Latin America is also aflame.  The impact on the U.S. could be quite significant.  With high caseloads, the possibility of new variants increases.  And any mutation that is more infectious, more lethal, and more evasive of the vaccines we are now using could take us back to March 2020 where the protections we now enjoy may no longer work.  The remedy?  We have to consider the world as our one community and share resources across all nations to conquer this disease.  That’s quite a challenge!

  1. Education, alone, won’t lead to people accepting vaccinations as safe.

       Q. What will it take to get more people to stop thinking that vaccines are dangerous?

       A. Traditionally, public health education programs are created to change the public’s behavior away from harmful activity. Stop smoking!  Eat less!  Cover your cough!  Get vaccinated!  These are some of the often-repeated messages.  Saad B. Omer, Ph.D. MPH, Associate Dean at the Yale School of Medicine, has published studies that examined vaccine skepticism.   He and other social psychologists found that those who doubted the value of vaccinations have a highly developed sensitivity of “liberty” or the rights of the individual.  They are less likely to accept the words of those in power be they scientists or governmental officials.  This is parallel to the concept of personal health as being the decision-making process with the right to accept or deny medical advice for yourself.  This is opposed to public health, where an individual’s decision may affect the health of others and therefore must be regulated.  Other researchers have found that the skepticism against many public health measures is “morally intuitive,” and quite strong.  They resist having their views overturned by “education” programs and messaging.  One conclusion from this is the need to be patient with the skeptics.  Social interaction with others and a continuous flow of information on how vaccinations actually help them can be persuasive.

  1. Vaccine passports – an increasing demand with increasing difficulties

       Q:  I’m planning to go on a cruise in November.  Where can I get a vaccination passport?

       A:  Several months ago, news media warned newly immunized people not to post their vaccination cards on social media to show they got vaccinated.  “Too easy for it to be copied and used as a forgery…” we were told.   Well, now we are here.  Last Thursday, the Hartford Courant ran an article that fake vaccination cards were being passed out at a State Capitol rally with over 3,000 participants present last week.  The State Police confiscated these fakes but stated they were not investigating the issue any further and turned the matter over to the state health department.  It is alleged that several internet sites are selling these duplicate blank CDC cards – like the ones filled out and handed to each person getting a shot.  While it is claimed that selling blank CDC vaccination cards is illegal, it is left to citizens to report this to the federal agency inspector general, and there is no explanation about what will then be done.

This appears to be an unsolvable problem.  Vaccinations are given by the states.  The states used multiple vaccinating agencies to administer the shots.  These agencies collect the data of who is being vaccinated and pass summary data back to the states. If a single federal or state agency were to issue vaccination passports, how would it access the data needed such as names and addresses?  If every agency were to issue their own passports, how would a sports arena or airline officials know which were real and which were fictitious?  What would it cost for the equipment and staffing to manage this?  Would fifty states’ legislatures need to enact laws authorizing state-level vaccination passports?

It will be fascinating to watch if (and how) this is resolved.  Will venues and tour/travel agencies have to accept apparently official but possibly fake ID cards, or will those requirements be removed allowing anyone – vaccinated or not – to gather close together by the thousands for concerts, sports events, travel, or tours?

  1. Early-stage trials begin on an oral Covid -19 therapeutic

       Q:  Can someone with COVID-19 be treated at home?

       A:  Most of the drugs developed to treat COVID-19 have to be administered intravenously.  This is why these therapeutics are usually given to hospitalized patients.  Pfizer has developed an antiviral medication intended to prevent coronavirus-19 from replicating in the cells.  This has been given the name “PF-0732133.”  Early-stage clinical trials have begun on this new product.  If successful, later stage, expanded trials will be held to determine its effectiveness.  If eventually granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), it can be taken at home at the first sign of an infection to delay or eliminate the need for hospitalization.  While this may be months in the future, it illustrates the continuing attempts by science to control this pandemic.