Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 — September 15, 2021

  “Shared expectations lead to predictability.”

361. A Perspective: Managing Covid-19 from the Far-right Perspective – in Idaho

         Q:  How are Republican states doing managing this pandemic? 

         A:   Some Republican governors are supportive of science and have endorsed proven mitigation strategies.  But several other states have adopted an antagonistic approach to public health measures.  A case in point would be Idaho. State House minority leader, Iliane Rubel stated last week the House speaker Scott Bedke was planning to call a special session of the legislature to pass a bill banning Biden’s mandate for health care workers to become vaccinated.  Idaho hospitals have been overwhelmed with new critically ill Covid patients.  Most of these are unvaccinated. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare quietly moved last Monday to activate the “crisis standards of care” for hospitals in the northern parts of the state.  This will begin the rationing of care.  Selecting those seriously ill patients who have the greatest benefit with survival to be admitted to the hospital, sending the others back home to receive “comfort care.”  This is the care given to hospice patients – not treating the disease but simply making the patient pain-free and comfortable.  One of the considerations for deciding which patient would benefit from care would be their age.

The Idaho Central Health District includes 4 counties and has a 7-member Health Board.  Ted Epperly, MD for 15 years has served on this board, and has an exemplary record of service, Last June, Ada County commissioner Ryan Davidson fired Dr. Epperly after he promoted using masks to mitigate against Covid.  Several candidates applied for this position including an epidemiologist and an infectious disease physician, Last week, Ryan Cole, MD was appointed to fill this position.  Dr. Cole is an independent pathologist who runs a medical pathology laboratory.   He has no experience with infectious diseases nor with providing patient care.  Dr. Cole has called the Covid vaccines “fake vaccines,” claiming that the current vaccines have killed more than 11,000 people.  He charges that the science used to develop the vaccine “is no longer good science. This is a poisonous attack on our population and it needs to stop now.”  He cites that researchers in April found 3 people died from clots from the J & J vaccine (out of 6.8 million doses administered).  He has referred to vaccines as “clot shots’ and “needle rape.”  He advocates for medications to prevent Covid, especially Ivermectin – the veterinarian de-worming pills that even the manufacturer warns against use by humans and for Covid.

As for the passing a state law prohibiting bans on mandated vaccination, if the hospitals and nursing homes follow that law, they eventually will lose Medicare and Medicare funding and would no longer exist.  Would the absence of these facilities in Idaho then be seen as “acceptable collateral damage?”  Or would such a law be simply ignored instead?  It will be interesting to see how that question will be answered.

362. Early mandates for vaccines show that mandates do succeed.

         Q: Will mandates actually work?

         A:  Since the Pentagon announced last month that active-duty military personnel will soon be required to become vaccinated, the percentage of vaccinated members rose from 76% to 83% – even before the mandate had been issued.  Other groups targeted for mandates have shown many people getting vaccinated before or immediately after the mandates were issued.  Mandates work!

363. It will be hard for businesses to sue to stop OSHA from mandating vaccines.

         Q:  How will the White House, if sued, defend OSHA to mandate workers be vaccinated?

         A:  Depending on how OSHA phrases the regulation requiring vaccinations of employees, the answer could be quite simple.  The requirement to keep the workplace safe could be to require – mandate – every unvaccinated employee to submit a negative COVID test result documentation every week.  Who could argue that the safety of every worker depends on proof that their co-workers won’t infect them with a serious, possibly debilitating, possibly fatal disease?  Any company who retains an employee without a weekly negative test on file could be fined.  The way to remove this weekly testing mandate would be for the employee to get vaccinated.  But the vaccination itself would not be mandatory.

364. The latest “Mu variant” is being studied.

         Q:  Is it true that a new mutation, the Mu variant, evades the current vaccines?

         A:  Officials are constantly on the watch to identify new variants and study them.  One major problem is that any new variant discovered does not immediately disclose how infectious it is, how virulent (or able to cause serious disease) it is.  The latest mutation we are concerned with is the Greek letter “Mu” variant.  It was first identified in the county of Columbia in January.  It has now spread to 42 countries, including the U.S., where it reached its peak in June.  Since then, it has been steadily declining.  In Columbia, however, the Mu variant is responsible for a third of its Covid-19 cases.

There have been more than 11 noteworthy variants to date.  The Mu variant is judged by the World Health Organization as the 12th and labeled it as a “variant of interest.”  This opens up more intensive examination of its characteristics.  Geneticists have identified the Mu had eight different mutations in its spike protein that are also present in other variants, which could lead it to evade immunity from vaccines or prior infections.  But the positive findings to date indicate that the current Delta variant will not be overtaken by this new one, as stated by Tom Wenseleers, evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Lenven in Belgium.  Studies yet to be published indicate that the Mu variant may be the most vaccine-resistant of all currently recognized variants.  There are some early indications that this ability to evade vaccines differs by the type of vaccine taken by the infected person.  This variant is becoming relatively less frequent globally except in Columbia.  “Additional evidence on Mu is scarce, similar to Lambda and other regionally prevalent variants,” says Pablo Tsukayama, a microbiologist at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima Peru.

365. Parents are urged to wait for FDE approval of vaccines for kids under age 12.

         Q:  How can I get my 8-year-old child into a clinical trial to be sure she is vaccinated?

         AClinical trials are now underway, and new participants are not being solicited.  But one must remember that clinical trials are double-blind studies.  This means half the participants are given the investigative drug and the other half a placebo or “sugar pill” with no medication in it.  Neither the patient nor the one giving it knows which pill is which, That’s the “double-blind” part.

Many patients have sought a physician’s prescription for “off label” administration of a vaccine.  This is not advisable, the FDA warns.  Clinical trials are determining the safe dosages for different age levels for each of the vaccines that might be approved.  The purpose of these trials is to identify the most effective dosages for differently aged children, and to discover the risks, if any, to the child’s health.   Parents who want to go off label take the chance of exposing their child to possible risks or to an ineffective dose.