Usque Tandem COVID-19, a year after
We are all afraid of what we can’t control. It is certainly not easy to accept what the vector genomes may bring to our somatic cells once the mRNA vaccine is administered to an individual. In a country like Germany, where almost 160 young individuals less than 40 year of age, have lost their life to COVID-19, an explanation is mandatory. Everybody should have the understanding that a fragment of the RNA of the vector genome can integrate their human somatic cells.
They should know about the consequences. The mRNA” vaccine” derives from a completely new technology. A year has already passed and we have suffered enough with this pandemic. 2.6 million around the world have already been victims of this virus which keep on metamorphosing on us. The United States of America has seen also its share of victims with a half of a million of dead. This situation can’t stand forever.
When in 2020, players in the NBA started to become infected with the virus SARS-CoV-2, the organization panicked and decided to close the season. The NCAA hesitated on following the example, also prior to deciding on the fate of their annual basketball tournament they chose to pursue the athletic activities without any fan in the stand. Then, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally call the situation a “pandemic”. If many have tested positive for the virus, one should have already thought about a day of recognition for all the public health workers who have placed their own lives on the line to care for others
We will remember the painful experience of being a victim. How many close friends, parents, teachers have all gone through but definitely, we will remember always the need to be prepared for the next one to come in a not-too-distant future. Nations which have taken the most pro-active steps have certainly suffered the least. Inversely, nations whose leaders have pretended that the virus was not a substantial threat, have suffered the most. History will always remember the United States of America, Brazil and Sweden for their approach to the pandemic.
When China reported that a new pathogen was causing an atypical pneumonia, a dozen of patients was already suffering from the disease at a Wuhan hospital. Nobody was sure that they needed to consider that such an infection would extend to a global pandemic, although the world would have gone more than a decade without seeing one like the strain of influenza H1N1.
Then, the virus began to spread through China and the neighboring nations and still, we did not see it coming as a pandemic. Some were saying that it was going to disappear like a miracle other were hesitant to acknowledge that it may reach an international expansion. Then, in late January 2020, the WHO had to declare it by its name: A Pandemic.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tried to identify a way allowing to identify the pathogen spreading in the communities. Meanwhile, the virus crossed international borders and reached the west coast of China extending to Italy and Southern Europe and then the East coast. On March 11, 2020 all foreign travel to the United States of America were suspended. At this exact time, less than 40 Americans were dead already.
In April 2020, the confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection have quadrupled in California. Hospitals in New-York were overrun by the infected cases. The healthcare workers in the front line were deprived of protective equipment. Federal and State governments were looking all over the world for companies to produce masks and other protective gears. A first wave hit New-York and New Orleans around Memorial Day and a second wave was seen in the southern States. Soon, hospital beds were fully occupied bringing death and desolation. The Military and the National guards were called for help and military hospital ships were used to supply in hospital beds. On the hill, the politicians got involved shifting the blames for not being ready for such catastrophe.
Scientists were looking for ways of treatment and they were already hoping that a vaccine against the virus would be the solution to our problems. A new technology using the messenger RNA was the last resort to remove us from the situation. The pandemic was ongoing and many at the white house, congress and senate become as well infected following the thanksgiving outbreaks. The coronavirus itself and the spike protein used to detect it, become part of the solution with the creation of the new “mRNA vaccines”. Johnson and Johnson. Pfizer and Moderna companies came out with their specific version of vaccines using the spike protein in a new technology.
A year later in the pandemic, we are still fighting the virus. This time we may have a new arm to fight more efficiently in the goal of reaching a herd immunity. The active distribution of the vaccine has coincided with the numbers of hospitalized patients fallen down. More than 100 million American have received the doses. We can’t say the same for other parts of the world especially in the low-income nations. New strains of the virus are encountered around the world especially in places where no vaccine can be available to millions of people living on the planet.
When can we expect a return to normal activities? Are we going to have enough doses to vaccinate the population at risk? Or to vaccine the population we need to reach the immunity level? We are facing a problem because many are refusing to take the vaccine. More, recent problems of the company Astra Zeneca, an Anglo Swedish firm which made the promises to provide a vaccine with only one dose. It was also supposed to be cheaper and many doses were expected to bring help to the poor countries.
Following a mass administration of the new Astra Zeneca vaccine, around 30 cases of cerebral cavernous thrombosis with fatality were reported around the world. Countries like Norway, Austria, Italy, Thailand, Bulgaria, Romania, Ireland, Germany and even France decided to pull back the vaccine from their armamentarium. The United States was counting on this cheap vaccine to continue their campaign of vaccination. We learned last week that more than 30 million de doses are stocked in a factory in Italy unable to be distributed.
The sanitary and economic crisis in which we are living, appears to be reaching a critical geopolitical condition when we were hoping an end to this pandemic. Meanwhile a new strain of the coronavirus, unable to be detected by the actual PCR test, was discovered in Bretagne region of France. Nobody know for sure how many individuals with this strain, thinking they were negative for the virus, is circulating in the population.
If we become enthusiastic at the discovery of a new mRNA vaccine, we have seen our epidemiologists, virologists and infectious disease specialists lose a little their confidence about the solution to eliminate the COVID-19 virus. We still wish to have the vaccine available to reach the targeted 70-90% vaccination of the population, looking for the desired Immunity level. The vaccination is now extended to the young older than 18. Many universities like Rutgers in New Jersey, has imposed a mandatory vaccination prior to return on the campus. The one still following the courses on computers are for the moment exempted.
Americans appear to be on target to reach their goal in the distribution and the administration of the vaccine. They are trying to follow the successful path of countries like Israel and England. We remain anxious to see the way the authorities will approach the one who demonstrate their hesitance in accepting the vaccine.
We continue to keep our social distancing vaccinated or not, we wear our masks and we wash our hands periodically. We may have lost the habits of hanging in a restaurant or performing in a public gym or even going to a movie theater but public pools have opened their doors and I am still hesitative in using my privileges in the over-55-complex where I live. I am not too brave to adventure on the beach either. But we are aware that bleach and chlorine are effective at destroying SARS-CoV-2 and the CDC has repeated that there is no evidence that you may catch the virus from swimming in a pool. It is certainly different if you adventure in a lake or a river. Unfortunately, no scientist has opiniated on salt water either and we can’t assert that you are protected when we are using our privileges in walking on the sand of our beautiful beaches.
In Minnesota this week, 89 persons contacted the virus on a population of 800,000 fully vaccinated with both doses of the mRNA vaccine. We know that the vaccines are not 100% effective and it is expected that more infected cases will show up. We know also that the wear of mask following the reception of the vaccine is still mandatory. We should not have any doubt about the efficacy of the vaccine. 72 of the 89 patients have been interviewed and 30 of them had COVID-19 symptoms prior to receiving the vaccine. The CDC is tracking those cases through the country. One assuring note, none of those 89 persons have died from the disease.
I would not like to finish my column on Covid-19 without talking briefly about the story of the “Giglio Island”, an island in Tuscany where mysteriously everybody is immunized against the virus SARS-C0V-2. This article was sent to me by Jacques Arpin, our webmaster who know well our passion at discovering facts about this disease. I have already published the article on our AMHE Facebook page. I want to take the opportunity to thank Jacques for his devotion to the cause of the AMHE.
To continue the story of the Tuscany Island of Giglio, it was noted that many visitors infected with COVID-19 visited the island and no inhabitant has ever tested positive for the virus. Nobody on the island wear any mask. The explanation may be found in the facts that they were the victims of previous atypical pneumoniae caused by other viruses. Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, only one case of atypical pneumonia with SARS-CoV-19 was recorded. Giglio Island is known also for the site where a cruise ship “Costa Concordia” made shipwreck in 2012 by fault of the captain.
Giglio is called a COVID-19 free island where thousand of visitors have vacationed and only one of the 800 inhabitants had symptoms of the disease. This island brings back the story we have already reported in the past on the Eastern Canadian territories, the islands of Prince Edward. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, in one of our AMHE Newsletter. In these insular provinces of Canada, the COVID-19 was a rare occurrence. Many postulated that perhaps the maritime air and the wind influence the transmission of the virus unless the inhabitants are doted of a special mechanism of defense. Other islands like Sardinia, Elbe even Haiti have also shown less cases. Perhaps our scientists will find time to review these particularities and resolve the mysteries of these islands around the world.
Maxime Coles MD
1- Benz, S; Mathurin B; Perrault, M: La Presse 3-24-21.
2- Freeman, D; Loe BS; Chadwick A et al: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK: “The Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes and Narratives”: Nat Med 2020. October.
3- Perrault, M: “L’ile sans COVID”: La Presse 3-27-21.
4- Coronavirus Update. WebMD March 2021