At least 5 times during the pandemic I have sworn that I wouldn’t write any more blog posts about COVID-19. And then I get so outraged by our government incompetence or the irrationality of some Americans, I feel like I must pick up my pen and vent. If you follow this blog or my Instagram account, you know that I have mixed feelings on the Covid-19 vaccine for kids. Although I think there is a role for vaccination in high risk groups of kids (severe immune deficiency or chronic disease, morbid obesity, etc), I don’t think Covid vaccination is appropriate for all children.
MANDATORY BOOSTERS FOR STUDENTS
Thus, as a parent of 2 college students, I was absolutely appalled when many universities across the country began to mandate booster shots for college kids. Subsequently the FDA and CDC have recommended boosters for anyone over 12 yrs old. In a recent opinion piece to the Wall Street Journal, Johns Hopkins physician Marty Makary blasted government officials. “The U.S. government is pushing Covid-19 vaccine boosters for 16- and 17-year-olds without supporting clinical data. A large Israeli population study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month, found that the risk of Covid death in people under 30 with two vaccine shots was zero.”
Given the fact that vaccinated people under 30 have such a low rate of severe disease, it begs the question of how we got to this point with boosters. Israel just approved its 4th round of boosters, so evidently the sky’s the limit for them. Unsurprisingly, the vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna have said they can keep pumping out boosters as fast as the virus can mutate – cha-ching. In his Wall Street Journal piece, Dr Makary also contributed some thoughtful comments on complications associated with the vaccine and/or booster.
“Booster mandates for healthy young people, which some colleges are imposing, will cause medical harm for the sake of transient reductions in mild and asymptomatic infections. In a study of 438,511 males 16 to 24, 56 developed myocarditis after their second Pfizer dose (or 1 in 7,830, at least seven times the usual rate). True, most cases were mild, but in the broader group of 136 people (including older and female patients) who developed myocarditis after the vaccine, seven had a “complicated course,” and one 22-year-old died. Moderna’s vaccine carries an even higher rate of heart complications, which is why some European countries have restricted it for people under 30. But in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indiscriminately push for boosters for all young people.”
So where’s the convincing data that all young people should receive boosters (or even vaccination when healthy or previously infected)? Nonexistent. That’s why a panel of expert advisors to the FDA voted 16-2 against boosters for young people late last year. Expert advisors at the CDC also rejected the proposal for boosters in low risk groups. So what happened? The FDA and CDC leaders ignored the advisors, succumbed to pressure from the white house, and pushed the booster for all. Two top FDA scientists, including the head of the vaccine program, were so aghast at the decisions, they quit the agency and wrote about their frustrations in the Lancet Journal.
A recent study of children in Germany found that no healthy child between the ages of 5 and 17 died of Covid during a 15-month period when nearly all were unvaccinated. Zero. In the whole country.
As icing on the cake, Oxford researchers published a study last week in Nature Medicine, validating those concerns. It found young people suffered myocarditis, pericarditis and arrhythmias more frequently from Moderna’s vaccine than from Covid itself. And the long-term cardiac effects of boosters in young people are unknown.
THE “CURE” IS WORSE THAN THE DISEASE IN KIDS!
Additionally the government continues to ignore the power of natural immunity(previous infection)-–or even the power of previous infection in someone also vaccinated. A study out of the middle east looked at the efficacy of previous infection against all Covid variants. A summary of their findings shows, “Protection afforded by prior infection in preventing symptomatic reinfection with Alpha, Beta, or Delta is robust, at about 90%. While such protection against reinfection with Omicron is lower, it is still considerable at nearly 60%. Prior-infection protection against hospitalization or death at reinfection appears robust, regardless of variant.”
Despite what you are reading in the media, the risk of a child being hospitalized or dying from Covid, vaccinated or not, is incredibly low. We are inundated with numbers and stats everyday, yet few of us know how those statistics are actually tallied. For example, if a child has a positive Covid test within 14 days of an admission, but is admitted for something completely different, the CDC counts that as a Covid hospitalization. This occurs even if the child is completely asymptomatic from Covid. And although Omicron appears to be more infectious than Delta, it is actually less severe and less likely to cause hospitalization.
According to Dr. John McGuire, chief of critical care at Seattle Children’s Hospital, “Most of the COVID+ kids in the hospital are actually not here for COVID-19 disease, they are here for other issues but happen to have tested positive.”
LACK OF PERSPECTIVE
It’s really hard to just look at isolated numbers and make sense of them. Our brains are better at putting these things in perspective when we can compare a statistics to other familiar events. The New York Times compiled the graphs below based off CDC data. These rates are per 100,000 kids.
Even in small infants with under-developed immune systems, death from Covid doesn’t even break the top 5. But based on news reporting hysteria, you would think there are mass graves of children
Despite the numbers above, have you heard about any major government initiatives on vehicle safety for kids? How about learn-to-swim programs to prevent drowning? Nope, I sure haven’t. And if you look at data from England before vaccines were even available, severe Covid disease in kids has always been rare.
One of the reasons boosters continue to be pushed as our savior, is due to the CDC’s sole focus on antibodies. Although the antibody response, also termed the humoral response, is an important part of our virus fighting immune system, it is only one piece of the puzzle. We have some kick-butt white blood cells in our body called T-cells, that are masters at remembering viruses. Policies that only focus on circulating antibodies are completely ignoring other aspects of our immune system. Furthermore, if we are going to make policies based on these types of antibodies, then there should be medical studies that outline what antibody numbers should ideally be similar to what we have for the chickenpox vaccine.
AND REMEMBER, WE ARE PUSHING THIS ON YOUNG PEOPLE WHO HAVE VERY LITTLE RISK FROM THE VIRUS IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Our governmental policy is so rigid, that even once it realizes that certain measures are useless, it is reluctant to withdraw them. Take for example, surface transmission, the 6 foot rule on social distancing, the efficacy of masks, and many of the current quarantine policies in place. Our major institutions like schools, hospitals, churches, banks and police then all follow suit and enforce the folly.
So now my college kids, who have had 2 doses of Pfizer and recovered from COVID infection, are looking at potentially being barred from class for declining a booster – it gives me new appreciation for those families whose kids have been turned away from school for refusing a vaccine. Even more infuriating for families whose children already had the virus, and were still forced to vaccinate (this is exactly what happened to my kids) But if these kids must return to remote learning and isolation, I’m just not sure if they will ever be the same. We are fighting a pandemic (soon to be endemic) and losing our young people in the process (kind of sounds like real war – old men declare war and the young go fight it and suffer).
Our children’s suffering though the pandemic spurred the US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, to put out a special report on Protecting Youth Mental Health. Below is an excerpt from that report.
“Since the pandemic began, rates of psychological distress among young people, including symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders, have increased. Recent research covering 80,000 youth globally found that depressive and anxiety symptoms doubled during the pandemic, with 25% of youth experiencing depressive symptoms and 20% experiencing anxiety symptoms. Negative emotions or behaviors such as impulsivity and irritability—associated with conditions such as ADHD—appear to have moderately increased. Early clinical data are also concerning: In early 2021, emergency department visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51% higher for adolescent girls and 4% higher for adolescent boys compared to the same time period in early 2019. Moreover, pandemic-related measures reduced in-person interactions among children, friends, social supports, and professionals such as teachers, school counselors, pediatricians, and child welfare workers. This made it harder to recognize signs of child abuse, mental health concerns, and other challenges.”
While the FDA approves booster after booster for our kids, they seem to be completely ignoring life saving drugs which may benefit high risk patients. Merck’s Molnupiravir received an up-vote from FDA experts three weeks ago, yet the agency hasn’t authorized it. Pfizer’s Paxlovid cut Covid deaths to zero (compared with 10 deaths in the control group), yet the FDA has been sitting on the application for five weeks without even scheduling an advisory meeting to review it. The already available medication fluvoxamine reduced Covid deaths by 91% among symptomatic high-risk patients in a second randomized controlled trial evaluating its effect. Yet I’ve never heard public-health officials mention it.
If you follow my blog or instagram you know that I am not a big drug proponent. The point I am making is that the government/FDA has blinders on with regards to the pandemic. They can’t see anything beyond vaccines and boosters. When is the last time (if ever) you heard a government official discuss optimizing your immune system. Last I checked, a well functioning immune system fights against any virus mutation on earth – no big pharma needed. Have you ever heard a government official discuss how Plant Points can reduce risk of severe Covid illness? Despite the fact that obesity has been shown to be one of the biggest risk factors for severe infection? Imagine the amount of health optimization that could have occurred over 2 years if the government had pushed a “get healthy” agenda at the beginning of this thing.
Tonight, when I call my kids at school I do so with a heavy heart. I know that they may be some of the first generations of Americans who will die younger than their parents. Despite rapidly advancing technology, the rise of big pharma, and the medicating of America, we are unhealthier than we have ever been. In the words of prominent podcaster Shawn Stephenson, “We aren’t living longer, we are dying longer”.
As we move from a state of pandemic to endemic, we have to realize this is our new normal. How can you not take this as the wake up call of your life? A large proportion of the disease in our country and worldwide has been attributed to the western diet. Researchers at London’s Francis Crick Institute, have noted that more and more people around the world are suffering because their immune systems can no longer tell the difference between healthy cells and invading micro-organisms. Disease defenses that once protected them are instead attacking their tissue and organs. The virus is not the issue, it’s the host that is the problem.
My clinic is filled with autoimmune problems like asthma, eczema, bowel disease, allergies, and I am so tired of watching kids suffer and parents remain oblivious. Forget vaccine boosters – here is what needs to be boosted: our intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole foods, time outside, time away from screens, quality sleep, and our tolerance of others. Don’t look to pharmaceutical companies for those!
Yours in Good Health,
Drs. Ana-Maria and John Temple