Disinformation about the coronavirus and vaccines is causing needless deaths and permanent injuries. What follows is the best information I can glean from actual scientific publications.
The coronavirus is about 10 times more deadly than the flu. Unlike the flu, it can leave long-lasting and devastating side effects even in young people. Some virus survivors are reporting chronic lung injury, cardiac injuries, chronic fatigue and some deterioration in mental function as well as permanent loss of taste and smell. This is not a virus that one should carelessly invite into one’s life.
There appears to be little risk of contracting it out of doors or in big box type buildings like a Walmart. The virus accumulates in the air in smaller rooms containing less volume regardless of whether or not the occupants are wearing masks. In a gathering of 10 to 20 people in such a room there is a high likelihood that one or more of the people will be carrying the virus. Social distancing is meaningless in such an environment.
The only proven value of masks of surgical quality (but not cloth) seems to be in reducing the spread of viral particles from the wearer. None of the studies I researched indicated that wearing a mask substantially protects one from the virus. The particles of moisture carrying the virus and the virus itself are small enough to pass through any mask and around all masks.
The best prevention is had by being vaccinated. People who have completed the vaccination process have little likelihood of becoming clinically infected and almost no likelihood of dying from the virus. And they are highly unlikely to spread the virus to others. People who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from a clinical infection seem to have no need for wearing masks or avoiding exposure to the virus.
Because of disinformation many of us are fearful of being vaccinated. Indeed, about 4,000 people have died within a two-week period of being vaccinated according to the CDC. This is 4,000 of more than 60 million Americans who have received the vaccine. The CDC is not claiming that the vaccination caused all the deaths. The risk of death or injury from the vaccine is incredibly small but may be increased because many of the people receiving the vaccine are in poor health and at risk of dying when vaccinated.
While the long-term effects of vaccination cannot be known for at least 10 years, there is no reason whatsoever to believe the vaccines or capable of producing long-term damage. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines send a protein messenger to the cells to reproduce the harmless spike portion of the virus thereby generating immunity to the virus itself. The protein message sent to the cells breaks down in a short period of time and does not remain within the cell to cause any long-term changes.
The Johnson and Johnson and other vaccines are dead COVID virus attached to a cold virus to enable entry into the body’s cells. This builds immunity to the full virus rather than just the exterior spike. The dead virus is rather quickly broken down by the body’s cells and does not stay within them to create long-term damage.
These vaccines appear to be both safe and effective.
Questions remain unanswered about who needs the vaccination. It appears that children 18 years of age and younger are at very little risk from the virus and any side effects. Neither do they tend to spread the virus. A strong case could be made that children and young people do not need to be vaccinated. However, when vaccinated, they show few if any side-affects and therefore can be vaccinated safely.
In COVID survivors we know protective antibodies diminish overtime, but T-cell immunity may persist. Within the next six months we should know better whether and when a booster vaccination may be required for those recovered from COVID.
Until we are vaccinated or recovered from a clinical infection, we ought to avoid exposure to COVID so much as possible. Simply wearing a mask won’t do. Vaccinated or having acquired natural immunity, we have no need to fear infection or to wear masks indoor or out. Asking children to wear masks in school or out is not supported by any science.
William Dixon is a graduate of Columbia University, New York Medical College and the USF College of Business Administration. He was an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Georgia before entering private practice. He served 11 years in the Army as a surgeon and as a Special Forces officer, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Dr. Dixon can be reached at email@example.com.