Global Statistics

All countries
164,283,858
Confirmed
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
All countries
144,221,367
Recovered
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
All countries
3,404,750
Deaths
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Global Statistics

All countries
164,283,858
Confirmed
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
All countries
144,221,367
Recovered
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
All countries
3,404,750
Deaths
Updated on May 18, 2021 2:01 am
Molderizer and Safe Shield

The time to get vaccinated is now – Greeley Tribune

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Covid-19 and Vaccine News: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:VideotranscriptBacktranscriptBiden Says U.S. Will Be an ‘Arsenal of Vaccines’ for the WorldPresident Biden said on Monday the U.S....

Maine doctors answer COVID-19 vaccine questions

Get the Facts on the Vax: Maine doctors answer your COVID-19 vaccine questions


After more than a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to get bogged down with anxiety. We are consumed by thoughts that because a virus and its treatment is novel, it’s like nothing humans have ever experienced before.

Disease has ravaged humans throughout the ages. Smallpox, for example, was dreaded for the suffering and death it inflicted. On average, that virus killed three out of 10 people infected and permanently disfigured millions, often causing blindness.

Egyptian mummies more than 3,000 years old show evidence of smallpox-like rashes. Trade growth between China, Korea and Japan in the sixth century brought smallpox as sailors interacted with peoples from other countries. The Crusades in the 11th century spread smallpox in Europe, following centuries of creep from northern Africa into Spain and Portugal.

With colonization in the Caribbean, the African slave trade and European settlements in North America, the disease terrorized the American colonies.

Through an understanding of immunology and virus transmission, science and public health doctrine have helped lessen disease impact, and in some cases have eradicated them. The last cases of naturally acquired smallpox were in the mid-1970s.

The 33rd World Health Assembly declared that smallpox had been eradicated on May 8, 1980.

Variolation — a technique where live smallpox virus was inserted under the skin of a healthy person to infect them with a mild case of the disease — was the first step towards achieving mass immunity. George Washington used the procedure, ordering mass inoculations of the Continental Army, an effort believed to have helped win the Revolutionary War.

In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner revolutionized the fight against smallpox, after observing that English milkmaids previously infected with cowpox did not succumb to smallpox. Jenner hoped to annihilate the disease with his invention of vaccine inoculation.

Dr. Nick Pullen is an associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Northern Colorado trained in anatomy, physiology, cancer and immunology. He explained that the word “vaccine” is derived from the vaccinia virus, the virus used to develop modern smallpox vaccines, which eventually replaced the variolation method.

“Immunology is the study of the immune system and its response to threats, such as infectious disease and cancer,” Pullen said. “Vaccines are a part of immunology. The goal is to mimic an adaptive immune response that develops immunological memory without being infected by pathogen.”

The COVID-19 vaccines available today in the U.S. under an Emergency Use Authorization were approved after testing and rigorous monitoring.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the “FDA must determine that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks of the vaccine. An EUA request for a COVID-19 vaccine can be submitted to FDA based on a final analysis of a phase 3 clinical efficacy trial or an interim analysis of such trial, i.e., an analysis performed before the planned end of the trial once the data have met the pre-specified success criteria for the study’s primary efficacy endpoint.”

Jesus was thrilled to get his COVID-19 vaccine together with his wife, Cruz Barrandey, during a community outreach vaccination clinic in Greeley that was hosted by UCHealth and Island Grove Regional Park earlier this year. (Kati Blocker/UCHealth)

Two of the COVID-19 vaccines, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, respectively, use essentially the same biological mechanism. Instructions, or mRNA — the “m” standing for “messenger” — for the spike protein, an essential part of the exterior surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, are delivered within lipid particles to the immune system so it can recognize the genetic material and train up antibodies against it.

“The antibodies circulate and neutralize the virus before it takes hold, if ever seen by the body. This is immunological memory,” Pullen explained.

Messenger RNA vaccines contain no live virus, so there is no risk of infecting someone with COVID-19 when getting vaccinated. Researchers used in silico methods to create mRNA vaccines, utilizing computer programs to develop the mRNA code needed to create an effective vaccine, based on sequencing data from infected individuals around the world, Pullen said.

“This illustrates the importance of ‘open science,’” he said. “Because those sequences were available early on, researchers could get straight to work on vaccines without having to each sequence the virus for themselves.”

The history behind mRNA development goes back to the late 80s, with a focus on work developing patient-specific treatments against cancer, stem cell research and to treat autoimmune, neurodegenerative and other genetic disorders. The goal was technology to deliver specific genetic instructions targeted toward a specific tissue, organ and desired response.

Ignored for years by more traditional academic research funding mechanisms, particularly the National Institutes of Health, about 10-15 years ago, biotech investors began backing impactful research geared toward making a safe and effective system. Pullen said many companies are in the process of tackling other illnesses.

He believes mRNA technology could be promising for future influenza vaccines.

The third vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, is a vector vaccine.

“An unrelated virus is engineered to deliver the instructions to make spike protein antigen for immune system training,” Pullen said. “It is important to recognize that this unrelated virus is also engineered to not cause disease nor reproduce.”

Viral vector vaccines have been used for Ebola outbreaks, as well as Zika, influenza and HIV.

Dr. Michelle Barron a top infectious disease expert in Colorado affiliated with UCHealth, said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA recommended pausing use of the J&J vaccine on April 13 due to an association with rare blood clotting issues in six women between the ages of 18-48.

“This is a standard practice when evaluating new vaccines and medications and is a testament that the safety processes that are in place are being followed closely,” she said. “The pause will allow the CDC and the FDA to gather additional information in order to better assess what the risk of this complication is and whether the risk outweighs the benefit of the vaccine.

“The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are still available and have not been associated with this type of complication.”

To date, about 7 million J&J vaccines have been given in the U.S.

Although Colorado had seen a downward case trend, in recent weeks a fourth coronavirus wave has been creeping upwards after a time when cases had plateaued. According to Weld County data reported in the Greeley Tribune, the county’s two-week average positive test rate is up to 7.49%, an increase of 1.05% from the prior week.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported the increase in COVID-19 positivity rates is because of variants from the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The CDC indicates the U.K. variant, B.1.1.7, is now the predominant variant in the U.S., Barron said. The variant is 30% more infectious than the initial virus. It is unknown if the variants increase deaths.

Adela Garcia, 83, of Greeley, Colorado, gets her COVID-19 vaccine at a community outreach clinic hosted earlier this year by UCHealth and Sunrise Community Health at Island Grove Regional Park in Greeley. (Kati Blocker/UCHealth)

“Viruses evolve over time with more infections,” Pullen explained. “This is inherent to replication of genetic material, where every replication event has potential to introduce new mutations that can be propagated. Imagine trying to hand copy your favorite book word for word, letter for letter — there are bound to be mistakes (mutations). Yes, some mutations are in the spike protein on the outside of the virus and (those) are used to latch onto and start infecting target cells.”

Pullen said the power and excitement of the mRNA vaccines is that they could potentially be easily modified to address this.

“But the other good news is that early reports out on new data indicate good protection against variants with the vaccines, particularly Pfizer, in its current format,” he said

“It’s a very tight race in terms of getting people vaccinated,” Barron said. She recommended getting vaccinated as soon as possible, whichever brand is available. “That’s two weeks where you’re unprotected that you can get sick, and you’re only partially protected during the interval between the first and second shot. By waiting for the one you prefer, we’re brewing the perfect storm to potentially trip and not make it to the end line, but that’s what we’re up against.”

Barron said distribution of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines shouldn’t be impacted by the pause on use of the J&J vaccine, as that brand was only a small proportion of vaccines allocated to Colorado.

If you’re evaluating the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 versus taking a chance at becoming infected with the disease, Pullen said the main benefit is not getting COVID. It’s not only the deaths caused by the disease, he notes. It’s also potential prevention of long haul or long-COVID impacts that may include perplexing symptoms such as brain fog, COVID dementia, persistent fatigue, stroke, mood and anxiety disorders, among others.

Barron touts the vaccines’ efficacy. Of UCHealth employees, 0.2% out of 17,000 tested positive after being fully immunized. None were hospitalized, experiencing only mild illness or no symptoms at all. Employees were tested because of screening protocols before traveling, or they had a runny nose, and it turned out it was COVID, she said.

“There’s always been a spectrum, which makes it hard to appreciate, because people will think, ‘How likely is it to transmit if I didn’t feel bad?’” she said.

Barron said epidemiologically, the goal is a complete win.

“We want to go out to restaurants and not limit gatherings,” she said. “To do that we need to get to herd immunity through vaccinations. We have to cut off this wave at the pass.”

When questioned about vaccine side effects, she said they’re the same for all three currently authorized brands. While some people will have more severe side effects than others — there can be injection site swelling and pain, headache, fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea and fatigue — it’s because the immune system is revving up. Vaccines for diseases other than COVID will have the same effect.

“It’s almost a reassurance that the vaccine works, side effects are a function of the immune response,” she said.

Although there is some question at present about the J&J vaccine and blood clots, the CDC’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System states the system “has not detected patterns in cause of death that would indicate a safety problem with COVID-19 vaccines.”

The site adds, “Reports of death to VAERS following vaccination do not necessarily mean the vaccine caused the death.”

Barron stresses, “The risk of a side effect from these vaccines is still much less than actually getting infected with COVID-19.”

Many people ask her what the point is of getting vaccinated if they still have to wear masks and socially distance. She said it’s a balance between reality and truth, recognizing that nothing is 100%.

“The 95% reported from last fall’s data in clinical trials isn’t accurate for everyone,” she said. “Older people will have lower immunity — and they may not have as strong a reaction to the vaccines as someone years younger. But not getting a vaccine, you’re at zero immunologically. You have no protection. And again, we haven’t seen the real world data yet. We’ll eventually know the answer, but we haven’t been at this very long.”

If you’ve already had COVID and have antibodies, you still need the vaccine. Both Barron and Pullen are adamant about this. Barron said during the J&J randomized clinical trial performed in South Africa and South America, “Looking at the vaccinated group and the control, or placebo group, they could determine if a participant had COVID before entering the study. A good proportion of people who previously had COVID in the placebo arm were reinfected.”

There was also an initial huge positivity rate in Brazil, followed by the P.1. variant outbreak, which caused another huge reinfection.

“That tells us natural infection isn’t adequate,” she explained. “There’s variability in how sick you got, if you only had a sore throat, that’s not the same robust immune response compared to someone who got pneumonia and ended up in the hospital. And COVID antibodies decrease over time, they’re not permanent like chicken pox.”

Barron said she understands people are tired, frustrated and want the pandemic to go away.

“But we don’t have the option to put our head in the sand,” she said. “We know what layers of protection we need: vaccination, masks, washing hands, distancing. That will significantly reduce this.”

And she acknowledges: change is hard.


A vial of the Pfizer vaccine sits on a table before the first doses administered in the state in December 2020. The first doses of the vaccine were administered at UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. (Joel Blocker/for UCHealth)

Getting comfortable with COVID-19 vaccination: debunking myths

• Can I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I am planning to become pregnant?

“There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 vaccination causes any problems with pregnancy, including the development of the placenta. In addition, there is no evidence that fertility problems are a side effect of any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines.”

~ Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html

• Can a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

The two currently authorized types of COVID-19 vaccines utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) or a viral vector. “Both types deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the genetic material in the vaccines cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. All COVID-19 vaccines work with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease.”

~ Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/facts.html

• There is no long-term data on vaccine toxicity

We’ve been giving the vaccines for over a year, since the worldwide clinical trials last summer. The flip side of this fear of no long-term data on toxicity and side effects should be balanced with the fact that if you get sick with COVID-19, you could die.

~ Source: Michelle Barron, MD

• COVID-19 is no worse than the flu

The flu kills about 20,000 people a year. Flu shots have been around for a long time, so there’s some level of herd immunity. Although flu kills people, it might not be deadly for you, but it could be deadly for someone else. Your individual decisions continue to impact other people, creating horrible adverse events.

~ Source: Michelle Barron, MD

• I don’t want to introduce a foreign substance into my body

We do this all the time. Eating food is a foreign substance, so is alcohol, and marijuana is a chemical you choose to ingest or inhale. This is no different.

~ Source: Michelle Barron, MD



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