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July 1, 2020

The Truth about Vaccines: Part 3

This Herman Trend Alert is the third and final part in my series about vaccines. To access Part 1 and 2, click on the number. As the numbers of cases in some states (including where I live in Texas) are rising exponentially, now is not the time to give in and start going to restaurants and bars in those areas. Your health is worth it; avoid crowds and places where you cannot physically distance. And please wear a mask when you go anywhere outside of your home and if you have anyone else into your home for any reason. Now, back to vaccines. . .

Vaccines Work
Again, I want to reiterate that vaccines have been responsible for eliminating many human scourges, including Smallpox, Measles, Mumps, and Diphtheria. In the past, these diseases claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children. We know that vaccines work; we have tons of scientific evidence to support that assertion.

The Origin of the Modern Anti-Vaccine Movement
Some years ago, tens of families seemed to have issues of autism just after their children were vaccinated for various childhood diseases. After many studies to the contrary, detailing the absence of a correlation between autism and use of the preservative Thimerosal, the company agreed to eliminate that preservative from its vaccines. Nonetheless, there remains a substantial segment of the population who strongly believe that vaccines are fine for everyone else, but not for themselves or their families.

The Most Worrying Statistic of All
One year ago, in a Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, 45 percent of the 2000 respondents said they "doubt[ed] vaccine safety." Thus it is no wonder that according to an article in the Boston Globe, 23 percent of the US population does not intend to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Flu Vaccines in the Recent Past
The seasonal flu vaccines are developed at least a year in advance---to give the manufacturers time to make and distribute the product. Historically, the problem has been that by the time the flu vaccine arrives in doctors' offices and pharmacies, it is typically nowhere near 100 percent effective. According the Centers for Disease ControlŐs website (CDC.gov) for the last three years reported, the flu vaccine was only between 29 and 40 percent effective. The influenza bug had mutated. If you were to draw the conclusion that I, like 63 percent of the population, have chosen not to receive the flu vaccine, you would be right. My decision is solely based on the vaccine's effectiveness---or rather, lack thereof.

Creating "Herd Immunity"
According to estimates in ScienceAlert.com, to stop the spread of the virus, between 50 and 70 percent of the US population will need to develop immunity to COVID-19---by having the infection or by receiving a vaccine. Presuming these estimates are correct, nearly twice as many US citizens would need to choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as those who currently opt to be vaccinated against seasonal influenza (only 37 percent in the 2017-2018 season).

My Personal Take
But COVID-19 is different; it is not the seasonal flu. The mortality rates are vastly different; the mortality rate for the seasonal flu is 0.1 percent (in the US) and the estimated mortality rate for COVID-19 is 5.0 percent* in the US and worldwide. Yes, I know the seasonal flu kills people, too. But COVID-19 kills 50 times the people and while it is wreaking its havoc on human bodies, people suffer a lot---without even being able to have their families present to care for them. Second, some people are left with permanent damage from this dreaded disease. And third, seasonal flu has not overwhelmed our healthcare system. However, that is not the most convincing aspect to me. Because of all of the vaccine fast-tracking I wrote about in Part 2, the time between the identification of the genome, the testing, and the administration has been collapsed. What generally has taken us over a year will be a matter of months. Yes, I do intend to take the COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available.

When Do I Believe that Will Be for Most of Us?
It will take time for the approved COVID-19 vaccine to be made in sufficient doses to cover non-essential and people who are not on the frontlines. My best guess is at the earliest the first quarter of 2021. I know that means many more months of fear and uncertainty for most of us, but realistically, that is when I believe the vaccine will become available to ordinary citizens. NB: I hope that I have been too conservative and that it will come in the Fall, but I don't think so.

Next Week: The Virus Has Mutated
Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 virus has already mutated; the original virus from China is not exactly the same virus that was detected in Europe and subsequently, in the US. Next week, I will decode the details and what that mutation means to us.

* Please note that there is no way to calculate the actual mortality rates for COVID-19 in the US and elsewhere, because the number of cases (including those undiagnosed) as well as the true number of the deaths from the disease are unknown. It is believed that there were many more COVID-19-related deaths than have been reported.


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