My thoughts on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
Last update: $Date: 2021/09/16 19:19:50 $
If you're viewing this web page, it is likely that you asked me something about SARS-CoV-2.
Instead of getting into a debate over my position on the risk, prevention, or treatments, I showed you a QR code.
Q: Are you vaccinated?
Q: Why not?
Based on my age and risk factors (male, mid-40s, no co-morbidities), I feel that the unknown long-term risks of an experimental mRNA vaccine outweigh my risk1 of death or long-term disability from SARS-CoV-2.
Q: You must be an anti-vaxxer, right?
Nope. I get a flu shot every year, and I have had a Tdap shot within the last month (Sep 2021). In the past, I've also had vaccinations against yellow fever, hepatitis A/B, MMR, and some others that I can't recall.
If a "live, attenuated" or an "inactivated" vaccine, such as Sinovac (CoronaVac), were available in the USA for emergency use, I would likely take it to reduce the severity and/or duration of infection. These types of vaccines involve no genetic jiggery-pokery and the associated, unknown long-term risks.
One study suggests18 that the common vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) may provide some protection for males against SARS-CoV-2. Since I am a male, that's good news for me.
Another study33 also suggests recent Tdap vaccination (or MMR) might offer some protection, as well.
Q: Will you take a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 in the future?
As an engineer and a scientist, I continuously evaluate the best data at hand and determine if I should change my decision on vaccination. It is entirely possible that I may decide to take the vaccine in the future.
This is not "hesitancy", this is a cautious, fully-informed decision.
Q: Do you wear a mask?
Not unless I'm forced to do so. Surgical-style masks are ineffective25, and walking around with a P100 respirator is just a bit too far for me27.
Note that your eyes are an infection route for many virii, likely including SARS-CoV-226. Do you also wear safety glasses or a face-shield with your mask? (I'm an eyeglass -or- contacts wearer. Maybe that makes me more protected already?)
Q: Don't you know that the unvaccinated are the cause of the pandemic?
I respect the decision of those adults who have chosen to take the vaccine, but observational evidence2,31 suggests that viral load, even when asymptomatic, is approximately equal in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. As viral load drives the spread3,4 of the disease, there is no protection afforded to others by taking the vaccine.
My opinion: These asymptomatic, vaccinated people may be just as much of a breeding ground for new SARS-CoV-2 mutations as the unvaccinated population. So, no, I don't believe the unvaccinated "caused" the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.
Psychologically, a person who is vaccinated may be emboldened to have closer interaction with the older or more vulnerable population. I have often heard, from both friends and colleagues, "I'm protecting my parents/grandparents/etc." given as the reason why they were vaccinated. This, in my mind, is now a dubious claim.
Q: You mentioned "adults" in the response to that question, what about the children?
"First, do no harm."5
I am completely opposed to minors receiving the experimental mRNA or viral-vector vaccines, as their risk of serious illness or death is vanishingly small6,7,25. As I've said before, the long-term risks of these experimental vaccines are unknown. We should not risk our children's future health for near-zero benefit.
Since the elderly or those with co-morbidities are at higher risk of death, and the vaccine does provide essential protection for these groups, the risk/reward ratio may favor them taking the vaccine.
Q: So how are you protecting yourself during the pandemic?
First and foremost, I practice good hygiene through regular hand-washing. The impact8,25 of this simple action cannot be understated; the lack of basic sanitation was a prime driver of disease in ages past.
My wife and I pride ourselves on eating a wholesome, balanced diet consisting of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, healthy fats, protein, and nearly zero added sugar or fruit juices. Diabetes, and its precursor "Metabolic syndrome", is prevalent in the West and has been shown9 to drastically increase the odds of death and disability from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
I exercise20 regularly to avoid two more co-morbidities9, namely: obesity and hypertension. 45 minutes, four days a week, of cardio and strength training is a small price to pay for the dividends one reaps in long-term health. How much time do you waste glued to Netflix? Reclaim some of that to improve your body.
Finally, and by no means a "magic bullet", I take 4000 IU of Vitamin D daily as a supplement. This is the maximum advised dose10,11. Being lactose-intolerant and an office worker, my avenues for obtaining this essential immune-system-boosting hormone are few. Approximately 5 years ago, my tested level was low (23.6 ng/mL or 59 nmol/mL). Since then, I've raised it above 35 ng/mL with daily 2000 IU supplementation. At the start of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, my initial research12 indicated that Vitamin D might bolster my body's natural immune response to the new virus and reduce my chances of serious illness. This effect is supported by recent study publications13, 14, and induced me to increase my daily dosage to the maximum safe limit.
Q: What if you catch SARS-CoV-2?
In all likelihood15, I'll survive.
After recovery, research indicates that I will have excellent immunity to future infection from SARS-CoV-232, perhaps even better than that conferred by any vaccine.
I'll irrigate my sinuses with a nasal spray, perhaps with a povidone-iodine additive.34
I also plan to obtain a prescription for Ivermectin16 and take it as directed by a physician for off-label use.
Q: What!? A horse de-wormer! Are you nuts?
Ivermectin, like Amoxicillin and many other drugs, are used in both human and animal settings. To quote Wikipedia: "In humans, this includes head lice, scabies, river blindness (onchocerciasis), strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis."
If you read the FDA article21 closely, you'll see that they're subtly mis-leading you: They're talking about going to the local feed store to get animal-sized doses of Ivermectin, not the appropriate 0.2mg/kg (or, in another study, 0.6mg/kg) human dose22. "The dose makes the poison", as the man said (Paracelsus). Acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, has a narrower theraputic index (2:1) than Ivermectin (> 10:1)28,29. Tylenol is responsible for many deaths and liver transplants per year29, but it is still widely used -- and the sole pain reliever deemed safe for use during pregnancy.
As to the FDA's statement "Ivermectin is not an anti-viral (a drug for treating viruses).", they should really say "is not yet recognized as an anti-viral". Recent studies do show anti-viral activity23, but this needs to be validated by additional research.
Ivermectin has an excellent safety profile17. It has been in medical use for over 40 years, and is widely available as a generic formulation.
The FDA could not benefit30 by backing this cheap and safe potential treatment.
Q: That's not what the TV says! Shouldn't you listen to them to "stay safe"?
Television news isn't news; it's entertainment. They want to keep you engaged so that their sponsors, the advertisers, can peddle their wares in front of your eyeballs during the commercial breaks. It is in the TV station's best interests to present a few facts and a lot of opinion, the latter designed to stir your emotions up.
Food for thought: Big Pharma doesn't make money on generic drugs.
How many commercials did you see during the break which tout the best new drug to treat condition "X"?
Vaccines are made by drug companies.
Need me to draw you a picture?
Q: This isn't SCIENCE!
I don't think you understand the scientific method19. Disagreement and skepticism are the hallmarks of scientific progress.
There is no one "authority" on any scientific subject. There may be a preponderance of evidence, collected during experiments designed to validate a hypothesis and create a theory, but there will always be the possibility that another scientist may disprove the theory.
Q: Are you a doctor or a researcher?
"But I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night."24
All joking aside; I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Engineering and am currently pursing a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering (Comm. Systems). Separating signal from noise, using statistical methods, is my training.
I consider myself to be logical and try to consider all viewpoints on an issue, even if that causes occasional cognative dissonance.
Q: I think this is all misinformation!
You're welcome to your opinion, but don't expect me to agree -- or waste time arguing with you.
Logical, well-elaborated arguments supporting or to the contrary of any views expressed on this page are welcome. Incoherent ranting will likely be deleted without further thought or response.
1 Contributor: Links Between COVID-19 Comorbidities, Mortality Detailed in FAIR Health Study (Download the white paper referenced in this page)
2 Study shows virus abundant in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, even among fully vaccinated
3 Transmissibility of COVID-19 depends on the viral load around onset in adult and symptomatic patients
4 How the Delta variant achieves its ultrafast spread
5 "Of the Epidemics", Hippocrates
6 Covid: Children's extremely low risk confirmed by study
7 Deaths from COVID ‘incredibly rare’ among children
8 Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
9 Most COVID-19 hospitalizations due to four conditions
10 Taking too much vitamin D can cloud its benefits and create health risks
11 Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
12 Vitamin D Status in Hospitalized Patients with SARS-CoV-2 Infection
13 Vitamin D deficiency is associated with higher hospitalisation risk from COVID-19: a retrospective case-control study
14 Study suggests high vitamin D levels may protect against COVID-19, especially for Black people
15 Essential Facts About Covid-19
16 Ivermectin for COVID-19: real-time analysis of all 107 studies
17 Safety and pharmacokinetic profile of fixed-dose ivermectin with an innovative 18mg tablet in healthy adult volunteers
18 Recent MMR vaccination in health care workers and Covid-19: A test negative case-control study
19 Britannica: Scientific method
20 Physical activity and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related mortality in South Korea: a nationwide cohort study
21 Why You Should Not Use Ivermectin to Treat or Prevent COVID-19
22 Role of ivermectin in the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection among healthcare workers in India: A matched case-control study
23 The broad spectrum host-directed agent ivermectin as an antiviral for SARS-CoV-2 ?
24 2001 Holiday Inn Ebola commercial
25 Do Masks Work?
26 SARS-CoV-2: eye protection might be the missing key
27 Breaking Bad
28 The Approved Dose of Ivermectin Alone is not the Ideal Dose for the Treatment of COVID-19
29 The proper use of acetaminophen
30 Hidden conflicts? Pharma payments to FDA advisers after drug approvals spark ethical concerns
31 Shedding of Infectious SARS-CoV-2 Despite Vaccination when the Delta Variant is Prevalent - Wisconsin, July 2021
32 Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough infections
33 Evidence mounts that MMR and Tdap vaccines strengthen protection against severe COVID-19
34 Rapid initiation of nasal saline irrigation: hospitalizations in COVID-19 patients randomized to alkalinization or povidone-iodine compared to a national dataset