Bookends

It’s been a few weeks since the last post, and this one is going to be a brief one.  Why?  Three reasons.  First, I don’t have a lot to update you with.  Second is that I have spent most of my spare time vaccinating nearly 1000 folks this last month to protect them from COVID-19.  Lastly, because in that smidge of spare time remaining, I was I finally able to get out and relearn how to navigate something resembling a normal society again!

The two videos above are from the last show before the lockdown and the first show since then at Madison Square Garden.   Both incredible shows (I managed to attend both).  The Allman Brothers 50th anniversary bash last March closed with Whipping Post which seemed appropriate at the time.  The Foo Fighters reopened the Garden for concerts last week with a cut named Times Like These.  Again, a perfectly matched tune.  If you want to hear the Foo Fighters go disco by the way, forward to the encore.

What’s Going On?

The Quickest Numbers Game Yet

Regarding COVID-19, things are looking better by the day still.  Nationally we are seeing less than 100,000 new cases per week, and less than 2000 deaths due to COVID-19.  A few months ago, these numbers would have been met by lunchtime every day of the week.

Locally, we have seen less than 35 cases per day in Suffolk County.  The positivity rate is under 0.4%.  Less than 50 hospitalized.  Best yet…..only two deaths in the last two weeks!!!!!

How’s that for brief and all good news?!

What Was The Special Sauce That Permitted This?

It wasn’t masks.  It wasn’t some cocktail including vitamin C, zinc, echinacea, elderberry, or any other supplement du jour.  It wasn’t just the fact that it is summer.  It was those lovely vaccines that 60% of American adults have already gotten at least one dose of.  Among our high-risk folks, specifically those older than 65 years of age, 93% have received a COVID vaccine!

What Does That Mean For The Summer And Quite Possibly Beyond?

That means you get to enjoy each other’s magnetic personalities without masks, and wherever you want should you so choose.  And, as a quick reminder, there are no magnets in the vaccine.  There are still a few small caveats, such as mask wearing in doctor’s offices, but given time, I will not be surprised that even these locations can start to relax a bit too.

What Else Can We Do To Put This Issue To Rest For Good?

This one is really easy to answer…..get the rest of the currently eligible population to take the vaccine.  There have been over 2 billion given already.  Only rare side effects would be expected to be identified at this point.  Let them continue to run the trials in the younger population, but if those currently eligible comply, there will be little to no reason to mass vaccinate the youngest in the near term.

The cuts above are the opening songs by Bob Weir and the Wolf Brothers at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver, Colorado the second week of June.  My first foray back into normal activity.  Awesome shows.  The venue is beyond gorgeous.  The photo atop the blog is from my vantage point prior to the show.  On the topic of What’s Going On? Well, Bobby covered that as well at Red Rocks, embedding the Marvin Gaye tune in the middle of Eyes of the World.  

Delta Variant

There is a variant that has emerged that is being referred to as the “delta variant.”  It is kinda like Superman….faster than a speeding bullet (more transmissible) and stronger than a locomotive (it kills better too)….and susceptible to Kryptonite (the vaccines available are protective).  If interested in reading a bit more about the delta variant, this Live Science article provides a nice summary along with links to further feed your head.  To emphasize the key point here…..this variant is a bit more badass….but the vaccine is protective.  SUBTLE HINT: IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE, GET YOUR VACCINE ALREADY PLEASE.

Side note:  The delta variant has nothing to do with the delta quadrant where the Borg Collective calls home.  The planet Krypton, prior to its destruction, was located like earth in the alpha quadrant.  The COVID vaccine is not a method used by the Borg to assimilate.  We have yet to develop nanoprobes.  If you are out there Elon Musk, that’s a project for you.  On second thought, some projects are best left uncompleted.

Simon and Garfunkel performing Old Friends and Bookends at Central Park.  My little bookend this week.

Vaccines and Myocarditis

Per VAERS, there are 484 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis reported post COVID vaccine in folks under the age of 30 years.  Per an American Academy of Pediatrics update, 323 have been confirmed.  There have been 309 hospitalized for such, 295 are already discharged.  Most of these completely recovered.

I know that anytime such side effects are reported it tweaks everyone out.  You need to take a step back and consider the bigger picture.  To start with, consider that per the CDC, there have been 7.5 million doses given to those under the age of 18 years.  There have been an additional 13 million administered to those between 18 and 24 years of age.  It is safe to assume at least that for between 25 and 30 years of age (the numbers were not broken down by decade).  That would mean a minimum of 30 million doses have been given to the age group in question.  That would mean the chance of post vaccination myocarditis is about 0.0016%.  That is slightly more than 1 in 100,000 doses.  Also to be considered is that COVID itself causes myocarditis.  I have not been able to pin down what I consider to be an accurate rate of this in younger folks.  Among adults, the rate is significant.  One review I found when searching pegged the rate at 7-23% of cases.  Worst case scenario from my perspective?  The rate of myocarditis from the vaccine is the same as getting COVID for a young person.  In reality, I would bet that myocarditis is several hundred fold more likely from getting wild type infection than from the vaccine.

One of my favorite pics when I went to Red Rocks.   I cannot fairly describe how awesome it was to once again be bouncin’ with several thousand fellow tribal members.

Parting Thoughts

I hope you all enjoy your summer.  It is nice to again see y’all out and about.  It’s even nicer to see your faces again.  For those that are eligible to get vaccinated, I urge you to do so.  Nothing is without risk in this world, and I get your collective trepidation.  Fact is that there have been billions of doses given in adults.  The vaccines are our way out of this pandemic.  It won’t end until we achieve herd immunity.  We are so close here in the United States.  Then attention turns to vaccinating the rest of the world so we can discuss COVID in the same sense that we do smallpox……crazy diseases that are historical in nature.

And now…..off to Philly for me.  Time to teach my youngest about liberty.  And grab a cheesesteak at Ishkabibble’s (on South Street between 4th and 5th should you travel nearby).

Post authored by Jason Halegoua PhD, MD, MBA, FAAP.  Jason is the founder of Peds First Pediatrics in 2009, and has been a practicing general pediatrician since completing residency at Schneider Children’s Hospital in 2004.  In addition to earning his medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Jason earned a PhD in Molecular Pathobiology for his work contributing to the understanding of the genetic regulation of immune responses to murine leukemia viruses from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and an MBA in Finance from Hofstra University.