Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?

flu vaccine and COVID-19

If you’ve been watching recent claims of the anti-vaccine world, you may have noticed a belief that the flu vaccine and COVID-19 are related. This new trope is based on a recent article that is making the rounds with both COVID-19 and flu vaccine deniers (a special subset of anti-vaxxers).

Let’s see if this paper about an association between the flu vaccine and COVID-19 mortality has any merit. To save you some reading time, it has none, except to give me something to write about. Continue reading “Flu vaccine and COVID 19 – are they actually associated?”

COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide

COVID-19 herd immunity

Yesterday, I spent a bit of your time writing about the Great Barrington Declaration which strives to create COVID-19 herd immunity, without a vaccine,  by opening up the economy and allowing people to get infected. It was based on pseudoscience and callous disregard for the health of people across the world. Numerous other scientists showed their disdain for it like David Gorski and a friendly microbiologist

I was going to move on to other things to discuss when it became clear that Donald Trump supports this pseudoscientific nonsense. Of course, Trump has promoted all kinds of equine feces about the coronavirus from pushing hydroxychloroquine to trying to take shortcuts in producing a vaccine

Then it became clearer to me that trying to create COVID-19 herd immunity without a vaccine was worse than I thought. Maybe I’m buying into hyperbole, but I don’t think so. Let’s get into it.

Continue reading “COVID-19 herd immunity without vaccines? That will lead to genocide”

COVID-19 deniers and a declaration rejecting science – I’ve seen this before

COVID-19 deniers

COVID-19 deniers are a new species of science denialists that have arisen since our planet was hit with this pandemic. You know the type – masks are evil, closing restaurants will cause the end of humanity, COVID-19 is a plot by liberals, blah blah blah. They have nothing but conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

These people really aren’t much different than climate change, vaccine, evolution, and HIV/AIDS deniers who reject science for their own beliefs. The problem with them is that they make it appear that there is some sort of debate when there isn’t. And they’re dangerous to the public health.

But it gets worse. Recently, COVID-19 deniers have signed onto the Great Barrington Declaration, a pretentious sounding “petition” that tries to make it seem like there is a massive number of scientists who dispute some or all of the science about this pandemic. 

Those of us who have been fighting the good fight with scientific skepticism have seen this type of thing many times before. Basically, just change the names and the denialism – the Great Barrington Declaration sounds like the same science denialism we’ve all seen before.

Let’s take a look back into history, so take a seat, get some popcorn, and let’s have some fun. Continue reading “COVID-19 deniers and a declaration rejecting science – I’ve seen this before”

Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life

Flu vaccine and coronavirus

It’s flu season, but in this horrible year, we need to talk about the seasonal flu vaccine and coronavirus. Before we start, I am not claiming that the flu vaccine will prevent COVID-19, but it might save your life.

President Trump, who has all of the science knowledge of an amoeba, has been attempting to convince us that COVID-19 is nothing more than the flu, despite his just being in a hospital for treatment of COVID-19 and after over 210,000 dead Americans (as of 6 October 2020) because of this disease.

In fact, the flu kills a lot of people worldwide every single year, around 250,000 to 500,000, and the coronavirus, so far, is much worse with over 1 million deaths worldwide as of September 2020. In a normal year, influenza is a very dangerous disease, despite the claims of the anti-vaccine world. It could be much much worse when we get a double hit from the flu and the coronavirus.

Although there are all kinds of mixed messages and false claims about a “real soon now” potential coronavirus vaccine, we have to stop this pandemic with social distancing, face masks, hand-washing, and other efforts. And to reduce potential mortality from the coronavirus, we must get the flu vaccine. 
Continue reading “Flu vaccine and coronavirus – more than ever, it can save your life”

Coronavirus vaccine priority list – if I were elected the Emperor of Vaccines

coronavirus vaccine priority list

Despite the wild claims that a COVID-19 vaccine will be available real soon now, the initial limited supply would require a coronavirus vaccine priority list. Despite what Donald Trump says, and his veracity is limited, the supply of the vaccine will be limited for many months after approval, whether that approval is legitimate or not

The supply of a new COVID-19 vaccine is limited by many factors – regulatory review (yes, the FDA and other regulatory agencies must approve the manufacturing facilities for new drugs after the company receives approval to market their drugs), manufacturing bottlenecks, the number of doses required for “immunity,” and distributions problems, especially the need to store these vaccines at extremely low temperatures (no, your home refrigerator won’t get that cold).

In fact, that last point is something that everyone overlooks – your average physician does not have the ultra-low temperature freezers, usually only hospitals and major health departments. And they aren’t cheap. Furthermore, vaccines just don’t show up at a physician’s office or hospital directly from Big Pharma – they are delivered by a massive distributor network that may not have delivery vehicles that can properly store the vaccines as they drive their trucks across the deserts of Arizona in October.

This isn’t just an issue in the USA, it’s across the world. People magically believe that once a vaccine is approved it will suddenly be available to hundreds of millions of people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Because the Big and Little Pharma companies are being much less transparent than they should, we have really no clue how many doses may be available soon after they get the go-ahead. 

Using the USA as an example, we’ll need around 750 million doses for every individual (assuming that two doses will be necessary and everyone gets the vaccine, which won’t happen). Overlooking the fact that the USA probably has a total vaccine manufacturing capacity of 200 doses at best (most of our current 300 million a year of vaccines are manufactured not only in the USA, but also in Canada, Belgium, Germany, France, and Japan), it’s highly improbable if not impossible to have 750 million doses on day 1. It may take years to manufacture that many.

If there are only 10-20 million doses available on day 1 (I’m highly skeptical of even that), you have to assume that there will be a coronavirus priority list. 

Now, there is a group that will be developing a coronavirus vaccine priority list (they’ll probably give it a better name) – the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Dorit Rubinstein Reiss reported on a recent ACIP meeting which reviewed the ongoing efforts with the COVID-19 vaccine, but they did not make any recommendations on who should get the vaccine.

In light of that,  if I were elected Emperor of Vaccines, then I would have to create an official coronavirus vaccine priority list so that the right people get the vaccination. Spoiler alert – most of us aren’t on that list. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine priority list – if I were elected the Emperor of Vaccines”

Vaccine development process in the world of a coronavirus pandemic

Back before the world of the COVID-19 pandemic, the vaccine development process took a long time. Despite the nonsensical claims of the anti-vaccine zealots, the vaccine development process was robust and thorough. The safety and effectiveness of all of the pre-pandemic vaccines are settled science (read the article before you jump up and down screaming about “settled science”).  

However, the world of the coronavirus pandemic means that if we can save a few months or even years off the development timeline on a new COVID-19 vaccine, it could save hundreds of thousands of lives. This does not mean those political agendas like we’ve seen Trump do with hydroxychloroquine and other things should take precedence over good science. 

So, this article is going to lay out how, in a world without a pandemic, the coronavirus vaccine development process should proceed while ignoring how the politically-driven FDA may subvert the process

Although I am very uncomfortable with the coronavirus vaccine development process over the past few months, it looks like, for better or worse, we’ll probably have one or two different vaccines in unknown quantities by early 2021. 

Of course, much of the optimism comes from experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the few rational public health experts who are willing to speak up in Washington DC. Maybe he has seen some secret data only available only to him and Bill Gates that supports this optimism. Maybe he just is trying to be the national cheerleader for healthcare.

I don’t know the real answer, but a lot of vaccine experts who have spent their lifetime studying vaccines, like Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., who has expressed dismay at how politics may “trump” good science.

So, this article will try to lay out the development process, along with the independent controls that make sure that all vaccines are safe and effective.
Continue reading “Vaccine development process in the world of a coronavirus pandemic”

Trump coronavirus vaccine – in this one specific case, I’m anti-vax

trump coronavirus vaccine

As I’ve discussed previously, the FDA may use its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) powers to push the Trump coronavirus vaccine out on the citizens of the USA before it’s been fully tested. Using Vladimir Putin’s example of pushing out a vaccine before it’s fully tested, Donald Trump keeps insisting that we’ll get a new COVID-19 vaccine soon, well before phase 3 clinical trials are done.

All vaccines currently on the market have been tested thoroughly. And the science that these current vaccines are very safe and very effective is settled. I am thoroughly convinced of the evidence that we have excellent vaccines, so it is clear that I am thoroughly pro-vaccine – I do not have to convince anyone of that.

However, for the Trump coronavirus vaccine, I am anti-vaccine. But it is a very narrow, very unique situation. 

I have been troubled by the speed of the coronavirus vaccine research. I think it can lead to a bad vaccine on the market. Recently, Astra-Zeneca had to put a hold further testing of the so-called University of Oxford vaccine, because of a suspected serious adverse event in one individual. Astra-Zeneca will investigate the adverse event to determine if the vaccine caused it.

This is not uncommon in clinical trials – there is an abundance of caution while investigating new drugs, despite what people believe about how clinical trials are managed. That’s why vaccine research is difficult and not a slam dunk. 

On the other hand, there will be serious consequences to a rushed Trump coronavirus vaccine, because we might not get these safety signals that can appear in large clinical trials. And if we do this wrong by avoiding large phase 3 clinical trials, people who may be on the fence about vaccines become convinced by anti-vaxxers that this awful process was used by all other vaccines. It wasn’t.

Dr. Peter Hotez, MD Ph.D., one of the leading vaccine scientists in the world,  posted a Twitter thread where he discussed his concerns about a potential Trump coronavirus vaccine.

I want to review each of the 12 concerns he posted along with my own opinions on each. Continue reading “Trump coronavirus vaccine – in this one specific case, I’m anti-vax”

ACIP COVID-19 vaccines meeting – summary of August 2020 discussions

This article about the August 2020 ACIP COVID-19 vaccines meeting was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On August 26, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held an emergency meeting to discuss COVID-19 vaccines. This was an emergency meeting, as opposed to one of its three annual scheduled meetings, but it was not “emergency” in the sense of being unplanned – it was announced long in advance, and the announcement was repeated during the June and July emergency meetings.

The ACIP COVID-19 vaccines meeting consisted of four to five hours of presentations from the COVID-19 vaccines workgroup, convened in April, and one hour of public comments that included multiple pro-vaccine speakers and four anti-vaccine individuals.

The main takeaway most people would have from the meetings are, I expect, the same as mine – that COVID-19 vaccines safety is taken extremely seriously by the workgroup and the committee, that there is still a lot of uncertainty about which of the vaccine in the pipeline will be effective, and that there are thorny, hard questions in deciding how to allocate the first vaccine doses.

This will be a very short overview of the meeting. The next meeting is on September 22, and I encourage and urge people to listen and learn from it. The presentation slides for the previous meetings can be found here. Continue reading “ACIP COVID-19 vaccines meeting – summary of August 2020 discussions”

Coronavirus vaccine EUA? Bad science from a desperate president

coronavirus vaccine EUA

Because of recent emergency use authorizations (EUA) from the FDA, there is trepidation that they will approve a coronavirus vaccine EUA to make a big splash for a desperate Donald Trump. This is unsettling to those of us who are “pro-vaccine,” because it could cause hesitancy towards this vaccine, and frankly, all vaccines, to skyrocket.

Democrats in Congress are trying to make sure that a coronavirus vaccine EUA does not endanger the health of the country or cause Americans to become even more vaccine-hesitant. So, this article will examine what is and is not a part of an emergency use authorization. And what this all means for a potential coronavirus vaccine EUA. Continue reading “Coronavirus vaccine EUA? Bad science from a desperate president”

HPV vaccine effectiveness – 14 year follow-up of women, all good news

HPV vaccine effectiveness

Despite all that’s going on with the coronavirus pandemic, great studies about important subjects as HPV vaccine effectiveness continue to be published. And this study, which followed Nordic women for 14 years, continues to show us that the HPV vaccine is safe and effective.

So let’s take a moment to review this new article about HPV vaccine effectiveness, so that you have more evidence to support the value of the vaccine. Continue reading “HPV vaccine effectiveness – 14 year follow-up of women, all good news”