Medical Science: Got My Shot, Can I Go Out Now?

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How safe will you be if you get the Moderna "95%-effective" vaccine? Pfizer and Moderna have announced impressive-sounding effectiveness figures for their revolutionary vaccines, and Americans may think "95% effective" translates to complete protection if you encounter the virus.

These mRNA vaccines, instead of injecting a weakened virus, use a genetically engineered messenger RNA that turns your own cells into vaccine factories.


COVID-19: Should We Line up for a 90% Effective Vaccine


You make viral spike proteins, then your immune system makes antibodies to this foreign protein. The idea is that the antibodies will attach to the virus so it can't enter your cells. Or that your killer T-cells will recognize the spikey virus and destroy it.

Ingenious—but novel and minimally tested.

You may think that "95% effective" means that you are almost completely protected if you come in contact with the virus. Not exactly. It means that so far 90 of confirmed COVID-19 cases in 30,000 study participants were in the placebo group, including the 11 "severe" cases, and only five were in the vaccinated group. The other 29,900 or so haven't gotten infected yet, vaccinated or not.

Moderna is applying for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to roll out the vaccine. It could be that you will have to have proof of vaccination to travel, work, or go to school.


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Things we don't know:

·         Will my vaccine protect you? There is no evidence that the vaccine prevents infection or transmission. If it just reduces or eliminates symptoms, the vaccinated person is more likely to be out interacting with people instead of being home in bed.

·         Will there be late or rare side effects? We won't know until months or years after millions of doses have been given.

·         How will it affect fertility, or the health of offspring? It is too soon to say. Remember that genetically modified foreign genetic material is being incorporated into your cells. Should old people and men get it first?

·         Might antibody-dependent enhancement of disease be a problem? This is always a concern in vaccine development and is unpredictable.

·         How long will protection last? Is it more or less robust than natural immunity? It is again too early to say.

As the graphic below illustrates, COVID-19 (striped circle in the foreground) is relatively insignificant in the history of plagues. The only one in which vaccination played a significant role was smallpox.


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What you can do now:          

Download the free patient guide to early at-home treatment: aapsonline.org/covidpatientguide/

For more information, see "COVID-19 Is Not Untreatable," Civil Defense Perspectives.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  if you would like to discuss these issues.


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Bio: Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989.

She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer.

She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf's Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf's Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

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