Not Until There is a Vaccine

Infectious agents, viral and bacterial, have been a scourge of mankind since our beginnings.  As an example, in the 14th century Yersinia Pestis, bubonic plague, killed approximately one-third of the entire European population with many other outbreaks at different times and locations. It is estimated that as many as 90% of the indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere was destroyed by the introduction of Smallpox and other viral diseases when Europeans invaded those shores in the 16th century. The H1N1 “Spanish Flu” epidemic of 1918-1920, killed over half a million Americans and approximately 50 million people worldwide mostly among ages 20-40y/o. Polio, present for decades in the U.S. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt, afflicted in 1921), became rampant in the 1950’s. But mankind using knowledge and creativity has fought back.  Edward Jenner (1749-1823) published in 1798 his work of producing immunity to Smallpox in a young boy with an attenuated (weakened) Cow Pox vaccine, introducing the concept of using the individual’s own immune system to develop resistance to many infectious diseases. It became important to find the correct material derived from each agent and using it to safely produce a protective immune response.
      The same is true today.  Until there is an effective and safe vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus the spread of the disease can only be hesitantly slowed. Attempts to impede the spread of the virus via lockdowns, facial masks, and social distancing has some success, but spread accelerates when restrictions are eased. Although we have been told that standardized testing has led to about 10 million positives in the U.S., antibody results in this country and throughout the world have demonstrated that the real number of cases is about 10-fold higher.  As posited in the Great Barrington Declaration, this eliminates any possibility of controlling the spread by testing and contract tracing, There is no doubt that developing heard immunity via widespread effective vaccination as in the past is the best way forward. As 92% of COVID-19 deaths in this country are in those aged 55 and over, this group along with healthcare workers should have the highest priority for early vaccination; until then concentrate on protecting the vulnerable. Although every death is tragic, so far, 0.2% have been in those younger than age 25y/o, the rationale as to why schools should remain open.
     We, in the near future, will be benefitting from a variety of anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccines that have been developed in record breaking time as a combined effort of government and industry.   


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