I have been following the research on COVID-19 vaccinations and other aspects of the epidemic since it began in late 2019. The current entries can be found HERE. Older entries are listed below.
As of September 20, 2021:
- An FDA advisory panel recommended a third (booster) dose of COVID-19 vaccine only for people over 65 or otherwise vulnerable people.
- Side effects of third injections of COVID-19 vaccine (booster shots) are same as for the second shot: 63% felt fatigue, 48% had a headache, and 39% had muscle pain.
- Both COVID-19 disease and vaccination may provide long-term immunity. One year after recovering from COVID-19, most people have high levels of protective antibodies, and those who have been vaccinated after recovering from the disease have up to 50 times higher blood levels of certain antibody levels to protect them against re-infection, particularly against the delta variant (JAMA, 2021;326(5):376-377). This study described a one-year follow up of 63 people who had recovered from COVID 19 disease, ages 26 to 73, of which six were hospitalized. Another study showed that vaccination after suffering a COVID-19 infection gives 100 times the antibody levels of just suffering the infection only (Science, June 2021).
- As of September 20, 2021, more than 673,000 people have died in the United States from COVID-19, making this the deadliest pandemic in U.S. history and surpassing the number of U.S. deaths in the 1918-1919 flu pandemic. One in every 500 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19.
- The CDC recommends wearing masks indoors in areas where people congregate. The virus is spread primarily in air-suspended droplets (large and small), and masks catch these droplets.
- About 76.5% of U.S. adults have received at least one shot, and 64% are fully vaccinated. Of adults over age 64, 83% are fully vaccinated and 93% have received at least one shot (New York Times, September 20, 2021).
As of September 14, 2021:
- Unvaccinated people are about 29 times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than those who are fully vaccinated (CDC Los Angeles study, August 24, 2021)
- A study of 6.2 million persons who received 11.8 million doses of an mRNA vaccine, found that the incidence of the following serious reactions to the vaccine were not greater than in the general population Reactions studied included heart attacks, Bell’s palsy (nerve damage), strokes, Guillain-Barré syndrome, heart damage, lung clot, and “thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome.” (JAMA, Pub online September 3, 2021).
- Long COVID-19 symptoms can persist for more than a year, including pain, tiredness, anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath (The Lancet, August 26, 2021)
- COVID-19 is most contagious from two days before symptoms appear to three days after symptoms appear (JAMA Internal Medicine,Aug 23, 2021).
As of September 6, 2021
- Nobody has shown that ivermectin is effective or safe for prevention or treatment of COVID-19. See Does Ivermectin Treat COVID-19?
- If you have been treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Get vaccinated for both flu and COVID-19, even if you have had COVID-19. Unvaccinated people who already had COVID-19 are more than twice as likely than fully vaccinated people to get COVID-19 again (MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep, 2021;70:1081-1083). A flu shot will not protect an unvaccinated person from suffering COVID-19, but it may reduce the chance of developing severe COVID-19 disease.
As of August 29, 2021:
- Long COVID symptoms can persist for more than one year. The largest study yet found that almost half of people hospitalized for COVID-19 continue to suffer one or more symptoms one year later: pain, excess time lying in bed, anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, and overall loss of life quality (The Lancet. August 26, 2021). Those who had the most severe acute disease appear to be most likely to suffer long-term symptoms.
- Some states have set up free infusion centers for the monoclonal antibody cocktail, Regeneron, that appears to reduce hospitalization rates for people at high risk of severe COVID-19. The U.S. government will pay for Regeneron.
- By mid-September, 2021, the U.S. government is expected to approve a third COVID-19 dose (booster) for fully vaccinated adults. A booster means that your immune system starts to lose the benefits of a vaccine over time, and you get a higher immune response to a third dose.
- The Delta variant is primarily responsible for the more than 100,000 U.S. hospitalizations for COVID-19. This is the highest number of cases since January 2021.
- Johnson and Johnson says that a booster dose 28 days after first J&J injection raises antibody levels nine times. A single injection raises antibody titers for at least 8 months (NEJM. July 22, 2021). On rare occasions, the J&J vaccine has been associated with increased risk for forming clots.
- Side effects of a third dose of messenger RNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are similar to those of the second dose, possibly milder, and usually resolve in 2-3 days: headache, tiredness, low-grade fever, muscle aches.
- A CDC study in Los Angeles found that unvaccinated people were 29.2 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those vaccinated— an efficacy of about 97 percent (J of Virological Methods).
- COVID-19 is most contagious from two days before symptoms appear to three days after, and infected individuals are more likely to be asymptomatic if they acquire COVID-19 from an asymptomatic person (JAMA Intern Med. Published online August 23, 2021).
As of August 22, 2021:
- Federal health officials are recommending that fully vaccinated people should get booster shots eight months after their second shot. A final determination from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on boosters for everyone is expected in a few weeks. The U.S. now has nearly 169 million people fully vaccinated. An Israeli study found that a third dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine helped to block the highly-contagious Delta variant and was 86 percent effective in people aged over 60 (Reuters, August 18, 2021).
- Studies from Massachusetts, India and Finland have shown that the Delta variant of COVID-19 can grow in the noses of both vaccinated people and unvaccinated people, so both vaccinated and unvaccinated people can transmit the virus to others, even if they have no symptoms. The CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said this explains why the CDC is once again recommending that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors.
- The FDA has already authorized a third dose of the mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines for immunocompromised patients. These booster shots are now available at many pharmacy chains by appointment or walk-in. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals will need to self-attest that they are severely to moderately immunocompromised but do not need to show proof of their condition to receive a booster.
- Should you be vaccinated if you have already had COVID-19? Having had COVID-19 in the past offers some protection from reinfection, but the CDC reports that vaccination offers better protection against COVID-19 than a prior infection. Having had both an infection plus vaccinations gives you more and higher levels of antibodies. Reactions to the vaccine are more common in people who have had COVID-19 (JAMA Intern Med, published online August 16, 2021). People who have a reaction to their first injection of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines are likely to have had previous exposure to COVID-19 and thus have a high antibody response to the vaccine.
- A study from Stockholm found that patients infected with COVID-19 can have an elevated heart rate for many months after they develop symptoms (The American Journal of Medicine, August 11, 2021). This is very important because COVID-19 increases risk for clotting that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and swollen legs. The researchers note that 25-50 percent of the patients had a rapid heart rate and/or chest palpitations that lasted 12 weeks or longer, and nine percent still had palpitations six months later. Palpitations are a feeling of having a fast-beating, fluttering or pounding heart. The authors recommend a basic heart workup for people with COVID-19 and palpitations or a resting heart rate greater than 80.
As of August 5, 2021:
- COVID-19 in the U.S. has caused more than 35 million infections and more than 600,000 deaths. COVID-19 deaths have risen by nearly 48 percent over the past week and now average 239 per day.
- Nearly two-thirds of the counties in the U.S. have vaccinated fewer than 40 percent of their populations.
- The highly-contagious Delta variant accounts for 93 percent of current COVID-19 Cases.
- For up to 13 months after being infected, most people have high levels of protective neutralizing antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (J Gen Int Med,Aug 3, 2021). The sicker a person was, the higher the protective antibody titer. Ninety percent of infected people had positive antibody tests six months post-infection, and 83 percent had positive antibody tests 13 months post-COVID-19. Antibody titers were relatively stable over 13 months post infection.
- An English study found that 50 to 60 percent of people who received two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations were fully protected against the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19. That includes people who had no symptoms of the infection whatever when they were infected. The delta virus also increases risk for more serious disease and hospitalization.
- People who have been infected with COVID-19 should still get vaccinated as the vaccination will more than double the protection from reinfection (CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Aug 6, 2021) Even just one vaccination injection was not associated with reinfection.
- Moderna reports that their COVID-19 vaccine remains 93 percent effective six months after it is administered. However, there may still be a need for a COVID-19 booster shot.
- More than 19 percent of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. occur in children.
- Currently there is an uncontrolled pandemic in Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand)
- One UK study says COVID-19 infection rates are now three times lower for double vaccinated people . This suggests that you should get two and possibly three injections.
- Many physicians and other health care workers in Israel, Germany, France, and the U.K. are getting third booster doses because of their increased exposure to COVID-19. They recommend third doses for people over 65, those with decreased immunity and those who have low blood antibody titers that markedly increase risk for disease.
- The CDC has recommended that everyone get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they have had the virus before, yet many skeptics have held off getting the shots, believing that immunity generated by their previous infection will protect them if they should encounter the virus again.