Health column by Dr. Greg Feinsinger. Champion of Whole Food Plant Based Living and righteous person.
We all know that hundreds of thousands of Americans are dying from the year-long COVID pandemic. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is recommending avoiding large crowds, social distancing, wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and immunization with one of the new COVID vaccines. Unfortunately, some of these evidence-based recommendations became politicized. Let’s discuss two of them.
MASKS: When COVID first emerged over a year ago, the CDC didn’t recommend mask wearing for people other than health care providers. At that time, testing for COVID was often unavailable and results took days; it was unclear how the virus spread; it was unclear whether asymptomatic carriers could spread it; and the mask supply was inadequate. As the virus spread and deaths increased, the following became apparent: 1) Asymptomatic carriers did indeed spread the virus to other people. 2) The virus was spread not only on surfaces but also through the air—both in large droplets and in aerosol droplets as small as 0.3 micrometers when carriers coughed, yelled, sang, talked, and just exhaled. 3) These viral-laden droplets remained in the air for minutes to hours.
Based on this new scientific evidence, the CDC started recommending masks early in the pandemic—to protect the wearer but even more to protect other people. In a recent review of the evidence supporting use of face masks to control COVID, the National Academy of Sciences concluded that “the preponderance of evidence indicates that mask wearing reduces transmissibility per contact by reducing transmission of infected respiratory particles in both laboratory and clinical contexts.” What this means is that in animal studies, in high-speed video studies of large and small droplets, and in studies of mask wearers versus non-mask wearers, mask wearing was shown to help control the pandemic.
Unfortunately, anti-maskers have spread false rumors based on poorly-done studies, or misinterpreting the conclusions of other studies. These people like to point out that the 0.1 micrometer COVID virus can penetrate through the usual masks, ignoring the fact that these viruses are in large and small droplets that cannot penetrate masks.
N-95 masks block 95 percent of particles down to 0.3 micrometers. Blue surgical masks are slightly less effective, and cloth masks are still less effective but still effective. Of course, masks only work if they’re worn properly, covering both mouth and nose, and they should contain a wire that can be molded over the bridge of the nose to prevent air leakage.
COVID IMMUNIZATIONS: The current issue of Nutrition Action Health Letter contains an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Biden, about the current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Prior to the November election, there was political pressure on the FDA to hasten approval of these vaccines, which made many people nervous about getting them.
However, the FDA resisted this pressure, and Dr. Fauci notes that approval “was done in an entirely appropriate manner.” The effectiveness and safety data on these vaccines “were given to a data and safety monitoring board, which [was] completely independent of the government, the drug company, and the FDA.” The board consisted of a group of scientists, vaccinologists, immunologists, virologists, and statisticians. These vaccines are around 95 percent effective across adult men and women of all age groups, all races, and in people with a variety of pre-existing medical conditions. They have also been shown to be extremely safe, although after millions of inoculations there will no doubt be a few serious reactions.
What we don’t know yet is how effective these vaccines are against the new strains of COVID. These mutations are another reason we need to conquer COVID as soon as possible—the more the virus spreads and the longer it remains in our population, the more chance of vaccine-resistant mutations.
For the anti-vaxxers, it has been said that if humans don’t start basing their actions on facts instead of beliefs (like conspiracy theories), the human species is doomed. Let’s all do our part to get rid of this deadly and life-altering virus ASAP.