Herd Immunity

The concept of herd immunity can be confusing–particularly with the wide variety of “opinions” of TV talking heads. However, this article by Dr Gigi Kwik Gronvall and Rachel West provides a clear explanation of the facts–without political spin. This is what you need to know to protect your family.


Important Vaccine Information–Flu and COVID-19

Flu season will soon begin, so it is important that all members of your family (6 months of age and older) get their flu shot within the next few weeks. Flu shots are most important for older adults since the age group generally accounts for 70% to 85% of flu-related deaths and 50% to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations each flu season. 

Despite the “internet myths” you will not get the flu from the vaccine. Some people get a sore arm for a day or so, but that is about the only down side. The up sides are many, including avoiding hospitalization or death for you and your loved ones.

For more information on flu shots for the elderly members of your family, read this article.

Within the next few months, we expect to have one or more vaccines for COVID-19. Frontline medical personnel, first responders and the elderly (over 65) are at greatest risk from this disease. CDC states that 8 of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the US have been people 65 years of age or older. We need to focus efforts on protecting those people at the highest risk.

For more information, read this article.

Good News on COVID-19 Vaccine Development

This National Geographic article provides a comprehensive update on COVID-19 vaccine development–focusing on the progress of nine notable candidates. This unprecedented scientific effort is the equivalent of completing the Manhattan and Apollo programs in less than a year.

“More than 150 coronavirus vaccines are in development across the world—and hopes are high to bring one to market in record time to ease the global crisis. Several efforts are underway to help make that possible, including the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, which has pledged $10 billion and aims to develop and deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective coronavirus vaccine by January 2021.”

Read the full National Geographic article

The Only Hydroxychloroquine Story You Need to Read

Dr. Amesh Adalja explains the science behind the story on Hydroxychloroquine. Most importantly, he describes the difference between double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials (science) and the anecdotes you may have heard reported by physicians and various non-medically trained talking heads on several cable news channels and internet videos..

There are many things we do not know about the COVID-19 disease, but the role of Hydroxychloroquine is not one of them. The evidence is in. Hydroxychloroquine is not a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19.

Dr. Adalja is a board-certified physician in internal medicine, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, and critical care medicine. He has been treating COVID-19 patients for more than 6 months . Early on, he treated patients with Hydroxychloroquine, but based on the overwhelming evidence from double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials, Dr Adalja no longer prescribes Hydroxychloroquine, a position endorsed by professional medical organizations such as the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Several people have contacted me about the stories of physicians who have treated COVID-19 patients with Hydroxychloroquine and claimed it to be a “”miracle drug”, including Dr. Stella Immanuel . Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Immanuel was best known for her theories regarding the use of rituals to cleanse people of evil spirits or demons. She has said she also believes in alien DNA, and in 2013 she shared a video saying that certain women’s diseases are caused by sex with demons in dreams.

Bottom-line: If any of my family members contracted COVID-19, I will want them treated by Dr. Adalja, not Dr. Immanuel, Laura Ingram or Donald Trump.

Read the article by Dr. Adalja.

Understanding COVID-19 Numbers

There is no question in my mind the pandemic will be with us for at least another year. Therefore, we all must learn to function in this new reality. It will mean dealing with risks that are acceptable to us and our families. 

To do that, we must first understand the risks. That is not always easy for most of us who read the sensational headlines and watch hyperventilating TV talking heads and TV anchors (aka political pundits poorly disguised as journalists—on both ends of the political spectrum).

When making decisions on risks for your family, keep these two important data points in mind:

  • 74% of all COVID-19 death in the US have been in people over 65 years of age
  • Only 19 children under age 15 have died from COVID-19

These figure are from CDC (2-1-20 to 7-25-20)


Dr. Amesh Adalja: COVID-19 Update on CBS Saturday Morning

Dr Adalja is a longtime colleague and the person I call when I have questions about COVID-19. In addition to being a Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, he is also a board-certified physician in internal medicine, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, and critical care medicine.

In this short interview, Dr. Adalja talks about the treatment he uses on COVID-19 patients, plus things you need to know about virus tests, getting your children back to school and your vacation plans.

CBS Saturday Morning

Are you confused by all the pandemic statistics?

It is easy for me to understand why the general public gets  confused about all the different statistics on the pandemic. I spend a lot of time, often 6-8 hours a day, reading reports, studies, articles, and listening to “experts” on radio and TV.

First of all, there are so many things being measured—total cases, total deaths, case fatality rates, mortality rate, rate of disease, and on and on. All of these data points are important to public health professionals, but what about us ordinary folk who are just trying to determine what is going on in our community and what we should do to protect our families?

Continue reading

How to Get America Back to Work and School

The Czech Republic has done it, and it didn’t take rocket science to figure out how to do it–just basic public health practices and common sense.

Within two weeks of the nation-wide order for all to wear masks in public, including the Prime Minster, the rate of COVID-19 infections significantly dropped, and now they have had a nation-wide celebration of their victory.

Wearing a mask in public is not a political statement, it is just a statement that you care about those around you and you want to get America back to work and school (and have an NFL season).

Read this article about how the Czechs defeated COVID-19.

Reducing the Delay Between Testing and Getting the Results

In many areas of the country we are seeing significant increases in the number of people being tested for COVID-19, but also seeing major delays in getting the results. Delays of two weeks are not uncommon. (I waited 15 days.) These lengthy delays make the testing virtually useless as a means to slow the spread of the disease.

A public health official in Alleghany County PA has suggested one method that would rapidly reduce the delay–reduce the number of tests.

Only those with “COVID-19 symptoms; those who have had close contact with a known, positive covid-19 case; and health care workers and first responders who have been exposed to covid-19” should be tested. Clearly not a perfect solution, since between 20-40% of cases are asymptomatic, but we must reduce the delay between testing and results.  

Without question, a 12-18 day wait for results is useless.

Obviously, this will not fix all the problems with testing, but we applaud a local official for taking action on the problems she can fix.

See the article: Allegheny County explains covid-19 backlog, advises priority testing