[COLUMN] COVID-19 vital data

SINCE the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported in January 2020, with all the clinical experience in the country and all studies conducted around the world, we now know the following facts:

Unvaccinated people are 4 to 5 times more likely to get COVID-19 infection, have 10 times higher risk for severity and hospitalization, and have 11 times higher death rate, compared to those fully vaccinated. Unprotected by the vaccines, these individuals are at a grave risk of death. We have reports of unvaccinated young people (teens and those in their 20s and 30s) who have succumbed to COVID-19. Precious lives lost, unnecessarily.

The virus mutates rapidly in the bodies of unvaccinated individuals, serving as a reservoir host for the virus, replicating to produce new virus strains that are more rapidly transmissible and deadlier, like the Delta variant. Now comes the new one, the C.1.2 strain, which has the added ability to evade antibodies, compared to other variants. As long as the virus remains in the host (human body), it will continue to replicate and mutate to its deadliest form. That’s the nature of viruses. Without a host (when everyone is vaccinated), the virus will self-destruct and vanish.

If the 20 percent (60 million) of the population in the U.S. continue to refuse the vaccines, they will spread the SARS-CoV2 virus and its variants more widely and prolong the pandemic. Worst scenario: If the continuous mutation is unabated among the unvaccinated, it is possible for a new, deadliest variant ever (resistant to vaccines and to any treatment) which could evolve and kill billions more and endanger humanity as a whole.

This COVID-19 virus and its variants replicate more rapidly in unvaccinated individuals and have greater opportunity to mutate to worse strains. Since these persons have no protection, the virus can survive and multiply for a longer period in their bodies, which becomes “factories” producing worse variants. With the more virulent Delta variant predominating, this has become the pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Since COVID-19 was first discovered on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan, China, the original SARS-CoV2 virus has undergone 59 mutations so far, the speed of which worries scientists around the world. And as long as there are unvaccinated people, the virus will continue to replicate and mutate in these hosts.

Facemasks, like the N-95 and others of similar protective quality, when worn properly, covering both the mouth and the nose, together with social distancing and handwashing, have been found very effective in minimizing/preventing COVID 19 and other viral infections. Since preventive measures have been in place, even the seasonal flu cases have diminished.

COVID-19 news

The U.S. FDA is expected to decide within 3 weeks of submission by Pfizer on the latter’s application for emergency use authorization for its vaccines for kids ages 5 to 11, which could be available by the end of October 2021.

After six unvaccinated staff in the maternity ward of a hospital in upstate New York resigned over the hospital’s COVID vaccination requirements to protect patients, it has paused delivering babies. Is this individual “freedom and civil right” to refuse the vaccines not a disservice to society/humanity as a whole?

As of last Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 9:18 a.m. (CST), the COVID-19 global toll was 226,265,082 cases and 4,655,746 deaths; in the U.S., there are 4,144,429 cases and 680,311 deaths, up around 350,000 cases and almost 5,400 deaths since this time last Friday, September 10; in the Philippines, there are 2,266,068 cases and 35,529 deaths, with only about 15 percent of the population of 111.8 million vaccinated. In the U.S., 54.5 percent (of the 332.74 million population) has been fully vaccinated.

More than 90 percent of current cases, severe COVID-19 infections, hospitalization, and deaths are due to the Delta strain. The Delta surge has caused the highest weekly COVID deaths compared to any period during this pandemic. Unless 80 percent of the U.S. population have been vaccinated and herd immunity is achieved, the virus will continue to replicate and mutate to deadlier strains.

A cardiac patient in Alabama died after the hospital he was in contacted 43 ICU units in 13 states and was not able to admit him due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, occupying most beds. Many more died from a similar situation. Countless surgeries have been cancelled due to lack of beds during this pandemic of the unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is the cornerstone to defeating the pandemic, White House officials reaffirmed on Friday, as data continued to show that vaccination reduced the likelihood of infection, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19, even during the period where the Delta variant was predominant. In an analysis of over 600,000 cases in 13 states, average weekly age-standardized incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for cases in June to July among those not fully vaccinated were more than 4.5-fold higher, hospitalizations were 10 times higher, and deaths were 11 times higher than those vaccinated,” reported Heather Scobie, PhD, of the CDC, and her colleagues.

In Israel, where more than 78 percent of eligible people have been vaccinated much sooner than any other country, the health authorities are considering a booster (third) shot for people over 50 to increase their antibody titer by at least 4 times (other studies say 8 to 11 times), since the first two shots wane in their effectiveness after an average of about 8 months. In the U.S., this issue has been used as a political football, confusing the public. Let’s follow medical science, to prevent a million more deaths.

The Washington Post reports that stillbirths in unvaccinated pregnant women are causing concerns in Mississippi. The vaccines have been found safe and effective for pregnant mothers and CDC recommends them to get vaccinated.

The Hill reported that radio-TV celebrity Howard Stern had some “choice words” for vaccine opponents “whose position comes down on the side of personal freedoms.” As I have written in my previous columns, societal interest and welfare should supersede individual rights and freedom when the exercise of the latter would adversely affect the entire community and cause potential deaths in the case of this pandemic.

In Florida, where facemasks are left to individual choice, there has been a four-fold increase in COVID-19 among children the past month. The Delta variant is more severe among children compared to earlier strains. Unvaccinated adolescents develop more severe COVID-19 causing respiratory failure, requiring intubation and ventilators, sometimes an ECMO machine.

Getting fully vaccinated and following CDC preventive measures will dramatically increase our chance of survival from COVID-19 and its variants and end this pandemic sooner. It’s really up to us, ‘We, The People!’

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites: FUN8888.com and philipSchua.com; Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com.

 

Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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