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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 7/18/21

SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant: Mandatory Masking Needed

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In my May 17 article criticizing the CDC director's inane directive that only unvaccinated persons need mask indoors, I predicted "Following Dr. Walensky's irresponsible announcement, spikes of cases, particularly in states and communities with low vaccination rates, are inevitable. Thousands, possibly tens of thousands more cases, and hundreds more deaths, are an inevitable result."

When no spike occurred in the month of June, I concluded that I had been mistaken. I did not not understand why, but was glad that larger numbers of people were not dying. Beginning in the last days of June, numbers of confirmed covid-19 cases began surging in states with low vaccination rates, a month after I thought that it would. Why the delay?

A new surge in cases did not occur in the first six weeks after Dr. Walensky's announcement, probably because the warm weather of May and June impaired the viability of circulating strains of the virus, reducing the risk of transmission from casual exposures. Hence the numbers of cases and deaths continued to decline in June in most states despite wholesale abandonment of masking and the refusal or inability of a third of the population to get vaccinated.

This lucky respite from the catastrophic consequences of Dr. Walensky's directive ended, however, with the dramatically rapid spread of the delta variant. Covid cases started surging first in Missouri in early June, and by the end of June in most of the country. In the same period the delta variant was becoming dominant. According to the CDC, by July 7, the delta variant accounted for more than half of new cases in the U.S.

It is likely that the delta variant, while spreading several times more rapidly than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain, also is more stable in the summer heat.

Regardless whether my guess is correct, cases are surging, especially the delta variant, against which vaccinations are somewhat less effective than against prior strains. The CDC's irresponsible announcement in May contributed to the lowered defenses against the renewed surge. The CDC and all local authorities now should reverse course and require, to the extent possible, that masks be worn by everyone indoors in public places. Not requiring masks will lead to thousands more preventable deaths.

Masking remains necessary because the leading defense against the pandemic, vaccination of enough of the population to achieve herd immunity (at least 85% in all localities), has been sabotaged by the venomous anti-vaxx propaganda being spewed out by Trump followers and Trump-supporting news channels. States that still have low vaccination rates can and should mandate vaccinations as soon as a vaccine receives FDA approval, expected soon for Pfizer.

 

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Andy Silver, MA, MSPH, is a retired unAmerican epidemiologist. In 1965, horrified by reports of American atrocities in Vietnam and the overwhelming public support for them, he decided that he was living under enemy occupation and that (more...)
 

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8 people are discussing this page, with 18 comments  Post Comment


George W.Reichel

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Obviously we need more shots and boosters

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 at 7:15:33 PM

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Andy Silver

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Imagine. . .

"

       -- John Lennon

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I will not respond to inane comments of libertarian anti-maskers or conspiracy theorists. I hope that there are readers who have something useful to say, who believe in saving lives, not destroying them.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 at 7:19:28 PM

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Robert Gormley

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Reply to Andy Silver:   New Content

Thanks Andy for providing a voice of reason. Funny how some anti-vaxxers have no problem taking prescription drugs which have side effects, but won't take the vaccine.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 19, 2021 at 7:28:19 AM

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David William Pear

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Are you fully vaccinated for Covid-19?

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 12:06:03 AM

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Robert Gormley

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1st shot done, 2nd one coming.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 7:00:48 AM

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Chuck Nafziger

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Reply to Andy Silver:   New Content

Sane people need not reply. This is the dawning of the age of hysteria.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 19, 2021 at 12:07:47 PM

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So who is hysterical?

Submitted on Monday, Jul 19, 2021 at 12:51:27 PM

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shad williams

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Please hurry and get yours, boosters and all.

Submitted on Sunday, Jul 18, 2021 at 8:00:27 PM

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Reply to shad williams:   New Content

Booster shots are not a new thing, I had one 50 years ago.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 19, 2021 at 7:29:32 AM

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Art Costa

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There is no variant. For there to be a variant there must be a proven isolated virus to "vary from". This is a computer generated genome with a variant of additional computer generated chromosomes. This SARS was patented. You can't patent nature. This was long ago created via lab computer simulations.

This information has been described in detail by a number of scientists. FOIs to all health agencies in the world, including the CDC report no isolated virus (SARS-CoV-2) anywhere. It was never isolated, purified and characterized. That would have to happen and THEN it would have to complete Koch's Postulates to prove it caused a specific disease (COVID-19). Nada.

Variants are just another scare tactic. Even the scientists who believe in such mutants, say there's never been an example of a variant being more dangerous than the "original".

Bogus scaremongering. More have died from this criminal activity than any disease.

Submitted on Monday, Jul 19, 2021 at 5:04:59 PM

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Dr Silver,

Since you are so well-read and have the resources, I would appreciate it if you could source an controlled medical experiments, peer reviewed, that show that asymptomatic carriers of respiratory infections (such as influenza and Covid-19) spread epidemics. Specifically, controlled experiments that use animals or human volunteers. Experiments that do NOT use computer modeling and PCR tests for the results. Only "cases" or "infections" caused by asymptomatic (preferably not pre-symptomatic) carriers spreading infections that result in clinical symptoms count. Certainly over the last 100 years there have been such experiments? I have not been able to find any myself.

Thank you.

Anyone else know of any such studies.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 9:53:39 AM

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Andy Silver

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Imagine. . .

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       -- John Lennon

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

Hi, David. I mean to get back to you on this, though it is unlikely that I can find just the kind of study that you describe. First, though, I don't want to mislead people into thinking I am "Dr." I took up epidemiology fairly late in life. I obtained my MSPH at the University of North Carolina-CH at the age of 55. Primarily because of my age, and having a family to support, I did not continue for a Ph.D., although I was in a Ph.D. program.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 10:56:24 AM

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Hi Dr. Silver,

I do hope you get back to me one way or another. Animal and human volunteer controlled scientific experiments on asymptomatic transmission would not present many problems to conduct. So it would be surprising that due to the importance of the results, that none have been done in the past 100 years.

It would be quite simple. Ferrets are often used to study human respiratory diseases. The experiment would simply expose ferrets (A) to diseased symptomatic ferrets (B). Then expose ferrets (A) to healthy ferrets (C). Then observe ferrets (C) for several weeks to see if they become symptomatic. Human volunteer experiments would use the same method. More "bells and whistles" could easily be added to study pre-symptomatic transmission, and whether or not asymptomatic and/or pre-symptomatic carriers are a driver of respiratory epidemics.

Curiously, Dr. Fauci originally said that asymptomatic carriers are NOT a driver of respiratory epidemic. Then he reversed himself. I have not found any scientific reasons that he has given for his change.

The implications of such a study would be huge. Policy decisions could then be bases on hard science.

If we are to follow the science, then we need some science to follow. Opinions and guesses of even scientists are not science. They have to have something to point to that is hard science that backs them up.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 at 12:09:57 PM

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Robert Cowen

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Valuable article. However why not include all the villains in your finale:

"Masking remains necessary because the leading defense against the pandemic, vaccination of enough of the population to achieve herd immunity (at least 85% in all localities), has been sabotaged by the venomous anti-vaxx propaganda being spewed out by Trump followers and Trump-supporting news channels."

Why not also include those on the left in publications like OpEdNews, who have been decrying masks and touting the virtue of natural herd immunity as well as the harmfulness of the vaccines? They are just as guilty as the right wingnuts.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 8:08:44 PM

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Andy Silver

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"

Imagine. . .

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       -- John Lennon

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Reply to Robert Cowen:   New Content

An interesting question, Robert, but I am puzzled by what is meant by "left" or "progressive." I had a side conversation with one of my critics who called himself "progressive." I suggested that, in the current political scene, progressive is represented by Bernie, Elizabeth, and the Squad. More broadly, I am in the camp that looks also to Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Naomi Klein, "Mother Jones," "The Nation," etc. I asked him how he was disposed towards these leftists, but he did not answer. I guess that the OpEdNews anti-maskers calling themselves leftists or progressives are leftists in a parallel universe that does not include Bernie or AOC. I guess further that the parallel universe is expressed on the internet in various conspiracy theorizing websites that merely identify themselves as progressive - but which have nothing to do with the progressives with which I identify in my universe.

As I stated in one of my early articles, "herd immunity" should never have been part of the discussion, because the broad public has never understood it as a scientific concept.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 23, 2021 at 8:53:55 PM

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So, critics of the Covid-19 vaccine are constantly dismissed as right-wing and accused as conspiracy theorist. Well, there are serious questions about the vaccines. The following article from the BJM asks many of those same questions and raises concerns about the safety and effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccines:

Will covid-19 vaccines save lives? Current trials aren't designed to tell us

Most of the critics here at OEN are following the science very closely, from what I have observed.

The science has nothing to do with Trump, Republicans, Democrats, left, right etc. Why do people keep bringing it up as if it is relevant? The Trump vaccine and the Biden vaccine are the same vaccine and vice versa.

Science is science. It doesn't have a political party or ideology.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 at 1:52:53 AM

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Andy Silver

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Reply to David William Pear:   New Content

Our issues certainly ought not be mixed up with political ideology, but tragically they are. Probably more than half a million Americans have died who would not have, had we not had an ignorant, lying, narcissistic, sociopath as president. The Banality of Evil

Cases are surging dramatically now only in red states (with the exception of California and Nevada), where most people still are adherents to the Trump ideology (not exactly right or left, more like nihilism) and for that reason are unwilling to get vaccinated.

The discourse on opednews is not about Trump, but if it were not for the tragedy of Trump's ever having been president, we would not even be having this discussion, or it would be with the far smaller percentage of people who were anti-vaxxers to begin with (and whom we have to thank for occasional outbreaks of measles). Hence I was puzzled by Robert Cowen's assertion that leftists also were arguing against masking and vaccination, and I still wonder whether such leftists are leftist in the same universe where I am a leftist.

Anyway, back to your question. Thank you for citing the October BMJ article criticizing the design of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trials being conducted at that time. The principal assertions are that the efficacy measure of the trial was only confirmed infections, not symptomatic disease or hospitalizations or death, and also that they did not test whether the vaccine interrupted transmission.

I take no issue with the facts as reported, but I don't understand why the narrow scope of the trials matters now. We have quite enough evidence that the vaccines prevent death. As reported on all news channels with slightly varying percentages, the CDC Director Walensky stated , July 9, "Preliminary data from several states over the last few months suggest that 99.5% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States were in unvaccinated people."

It also now is clear that the vaccines reduce transmission. Covid-19 cases fell dramatically starting January 11, just after millions of Americans had received their second Pfizer and Moderna shots, despite it's still being mid-winter - cold weather having led to the steep surge of cases in November-December. Furthermore, the new surge of cases this month is only in states with very low vaccination rates (with the exception of California). With the population data that we have now, it doesn't matter how well designed the trials were.

Does it matter how well the trials were designed for tetanus, measles, and polio vaccinations? Edward Jenner published his first paper on smallpox vaccination based on having given the injection to one boy , and having observed that 13 others who had contracted cowpox were not subsequently infected when challenged with smallpox. What does it matter now that Jenner did not conduct controlled clinical trials? His vaccine worked well enough to eradicate smallpox from the human population.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 at 4:08:09 PM

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Actually, yes testing does matter. Especially when giving it to the entire population without knowing the efficacy and safety, and long-term risks I cannot imagine someone seriously questioning the need for thorough testing of drugs.

Just saying something does not make it true.

Submitted on Saturday, Jul 24, 2021 at 6:22:28 PM

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