January 29, 2022

A Danger to Themselves and Others

By Stephen Tuttle | Jan. 1, 2022

When will this pandemic end? If by “end,” you mean disappear, the answer is never.

Most medical experts now agree the COVID-19 coronavirus is likely to be with us in some form forever. 

As this is being written, the United States has recorded more than 52 million cases of the bug and is approaching 820,000 deaths. It was the third leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer, in 2020 and will retain that position for 2021. Though we have developed effective therapeutics, and fewer of those infected are dying, we are still losing 1,200 of our citizens every day.

Here in Michigan, we've recorded at least 1.64 million cases and 28,300 deaths. 

These days, most of the serious illnesses and COVID-19 deaths are preventable, and the data showing that is overwhelming. We know, for example, a person who has tested positive and either asymptomatic or mildly ill, and then received the full vaccines and booster has the best immunity. Next in line, and not far behind, are those who received both Pfizer or Moderna shots and then the booster.

At the other end of the spectrum, we know those who are unvaccinated are most likely to become infected, become seriously ill, require hospitalization, spend time in an ICU, be placed on a ventilator, and die. According to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA), 76 percent of COVID-19 patients in Michigan (as of the first week in December) were unvaccinated, 87 percent requiring ICU treatment were unvaccinated, and nearly 90 percent of those on ventilators were unvaccinated.

Even more stark data came from the Duke Health system in North Carolina in a mid-December report. They reported 96 percent of their COVID-19 patients in ICUs were unvaccinated, and 100 percent of those on ventilators had not been vaccinated.

Despite fairly obvious data on the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, only 62 percent of Americans age 5 and older are fully vaccinated, and only a third have received their booster shot. Michigan residents are doing even worse; less than 57 percent of us are fully vaccinated, and only 25 percent have received a booster shot.

We know, at least so far, those who are fully vaccinated and boosted and do contract a breakthrough case of COVID-19 are experiencing very mild symptoms, especially with the now dominant Omicron variant accounting for 73 percent of all new cases. 

The vaccine resisters persist, their refusal based on mountains of misinformation and disinformation promulgated online by politicians, one major television network, and a couple of quite minor networks. Facts are their worst enemy.

We now have a fairly reliable sample size — 8.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide, including 500 million here in the U.S. The incidence of contraindications and adverse reactions have been limited to a few thousand worldwide. Nobody has been turned into a magnet or had microchips implanted so Bill Gates can keep track of them or become impotent or sterile.

The most common “adverse reaction” was soreness at the point of injection. Some people also experienced chills, fever, or fatigue the day following the shot. That's all.

Of all the doses now delivered, there are five known cases of a fatality directly linked to receipt of the vaccine. So, we have to assume opposition to the vaccine is based on something excluding reality.

When former President Donald Trump and his pal Bill O'Reilly told a recent audience they had received their vaccinations and booster shots and recommended others do the same, some booed. As if suggesting people protect themselves from a deadly virus is a bad thing.

It got even weirder when Trump was interviewed by The Daily Wire's Candace Owens, a Trump supporter and anti-vaxxer. The former president, in moments that might save the lives of some of his supporters, had to continually debunk Ms. Owens' misinformation as she proved herself to be one of the dimmest of the talk show bulbs.

We have been delivering vaccines, with great success, for decades without much protest. They have saved millions of lives and extended lifespans.   

For example, children attending public schools in Michigan must show proof they have been vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox) and, eventually, meningococcal conjugate (which can lead to meningitis). We accept those mandates because we know those are communicable diseases that can spread quickly and destructively among our schoolchildren, pretty much the way COVID-19 has been spreading through our adult population.

We are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic. We know how to control it and have the means to do so. We just can't control the misinformation and disinformation that has left tens of millions unvaccinated, and a danger to themselves and others.


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