- Virus– a type of germ that consists solely of a bit of genetic material (DNA or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat. The coat gets the genes into the target cell where the genes force the cell to make zillions of new viruses (genes and protein coat), and on it goes.
- Variant- also known as a mutation, a variant strain of a virus is the same species of virus but with a change in the genetic code. The change is minor if it has no impact on contagious the new variant is, or how deadly it is, or if it allows the virus to neutralize our vaccines. Variants that substantially increase harm are now listed by Greek letters, the most troublesome one now is Omicron.
- Coronavirus– a species name of a number of different viruses. Called corona because its protein coat is studded with spike shapes that form a crown, halo, or corona of spikes
- SARS-CoV-2– the specific name of the new coronavirus
- COVID-19-the name of the illness that the new coronavirus is causing
- Endemic– an illness always present in a region. One could say strep throat is endemic in the US
- Epidemic– a sudden burst of an illness that comes and goes over a limited time
- Pandemic– an epidemic that bursts across the world not just one region
- Spreadability– how contagious is the disease, how many people will end up infected
- Symptoms- the experience of being ill, for example- fever, cough, headaches, loss of smell etc.
- Asymptomatic– literally means “without symptoms”. For COVID-19 it refers a person infected with the virus but has no and will have not symptoms
- Presymptomatic– This is a person who was infected with SARS-CoV-2, and will feel sick, but hasn’t yet
- Severity– what harm does the disease cause, in terms of how sick you get and how many it will kill
- Mask- a mask is a loose-fitting cloth or textile that covers the mouth and nose loosely. A surgical mask is a mask used in surgery
- Respirator- for the purposes of the COVID-19 pandemic and other respiratory illnesses, a respirator is a mask that fits very snugly or tightly to the user’s face. An N95 mask is a respirator.
- PCR Test– swabs the nose to detect the genes of the COVID virus. The genes if detected are almost certainly there, but they can persist long after contagion ends. Very few false positives, positives can be trusted.
- Antigen Test (the home kit)- swabs the nose to detect the proteins on the coating of the COVID virus, the spike proteins. If it does not detect those proteins, you are almost certainly not infected, negatives can be trusted. These proteins are also on the coating of many common cold viruses, so one positive test may indicate you have a cold rather than COVID. Two positive home tests though reliably indicate you have COVID.
- Vaccine Terms
- Vaccine or Immunization– a dose of a substance that activates your immune system, as if you have the actual infection you are hoping to prevent, leaving you in fact protected from having that infection.
- Efficacy– the percentage of people immunized with a particular vaccine who will not get infected if exposed to the target infection. For example, a COVID-19 vaccine will be said to be 95% effective if 95% of people immunized with that particular COVID-19 vaccine will not get COVID-19 if exposed to COVID-19
- mRNA– DNA works by dictating exactly which proteins your cell will make. The message on how to construct each protein is delivered to the cell machinery that makes proteins by a piece of genetic material called messenger RNA, or mRNA
- mRNA vaccine– an mRNA vaccine places a small bit of mRNA code that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected
- Viral vector vaccine– a viral vector vaccine takes a harmless virus that is known to infect people reliably and places that weakened virus in a person where that virus will in fact infect the person. The virus is not only weakened, but also attached to a set of genes that makes your cells make a protein that is the protein from a virus that alerts your immune system and activates it to make protections against you being infected.
From Texas, From Maryland
Get Fully Vaccinated, it Really Works
We now have information that should settle the question of what we can now do in the face of a wildly contagious Omicron COVID virus. The information comes from Texas and from Maryland.
The first person to be killed by the Omicron COVID virus was a man just over 50 years old in Texas.
He had COVID once before and survived it well.
He was not immunized at all.
He got Omicron and it killed him.
This tragedy tells everyone that getting COVID is not strong protection, in this case it was not protection at all. This fits with what studies have proven. The antibodies we make when we get sick with COVID do not spread across our body well. Specifically, they tend not to land in our lungs well, precisely where we need them to prevent getting sick from COVID a second time.
In terms of being protected by prior infection, COVID is more like strep than chickenpox. Not many people get chickenpox more than once, but millions of people get strep many times.
Yesterday I learned which county in the United States is most vaccinated against COVID. It turns out to be Montgomery County in Maryland. Montgomery County contains Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Silver Springs. Some surveys find that essentially everyone eligible has had at least 2 doses of COVID vaccine, with a vaccination rate of 2 doses or more of 98%.
So the question is, if so many vaccinated people get Omicron COVID, what good does it do to get immunized?
Montgomery County gives us the answer!
Remember the measure of spread? It is the number of cases per 100,000 in your region per day. Back in May and June our number was less than 2 and at that number the pandemic appeared to be over. When that number climbs above 20, we feel the harm being done. Ohio right now is near 80, and at that number hospitals pack, deaths begin to rise.
Maryland’s Montgomery County never went above 20 across all of the Delta surge that hit our nation. In fact during those months, it’s case number per 100,000 tended to be about 1, 14, or 15, astounding!
But even more astounding is that the last 2 weeks when across many states in the US those numbers began exploding, reaching over 100 in many places, Montgomery County has reported their number is ZERO. That’s right, NO CASES, right when Omicron is literally exploding across the world and across the US.
This is excruciatingly important news. Omicron is so wickedly contagious that even if as few as 20% of a state or nation are not immunized, a raging fire of COVID burns, and will infect the immunized and spread wildly. But, if a region achieves high enough immunization rates, that fire can be totally extinguished!
From Our Babies
One may ask, 98% immunized, how is that even imaginable? Well, the answer to that question is found in your children. We have achieved immunization rates 95% or better across many, many illnesses, like polio, tetanus, meningitis, for many years, across states and across our nation. If our babies can get this done, can’t we?
Of course, our infants never organized political actions to block immunization, they were too smart for that. But the point is that we choose whether to reach 98% immunized, and that choice is now revealed to literally be a matter of life or death.
- Texas teaches us that if you count on being safe because you had COVID, survived it, and have natural immunity, you are in trouble. Having COVID does not reliably protect you from COVID re-infecting and killing you.
- Maryland teaches us that today, right now, each of us has the ability to stop COVID, to stop the dying. Literally stop it. One county there reports zero cases in the face of the Omicron tsunami. It is incredible.
- We can do this, all it takes is for EVERY AMERICAN 5 years old and older to be fully immunized.
- Here in Cleveland, 6 of our hospitals have taken out a full-page ad in The Plain Dealer today. The ad features just one word- HELP.
- Our babies achieve over 95% immunization rates, can’t we?
My One Takeaway Sentence:
Yes, HELP, help yourself, help anyone you love, help anyone you care about, help all the hospitals one the edge of exhaustion, help stop the dying by just doing one thing- getting vaccinated- HELP now, help today, the CRISIS is here, your actions can END it.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin