If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? – continued

The philosophical question assumes a yes or no answer.

The answer is either yes, the tree makes a sound because as the tree falls, it causes a metaphysical change to airwaves that can be audibly recorded.

Or the answer is no; even though the tree falls, if no one is there to hear the tree fall, then the sound waves are not perceived, received, etc., and thus the tree did not make a sound.

After 2020, it became an obvious truth that we are all interconnected. After 2020, you should confidently be able to answer the question now.

Change four words in the above sentence so it reads:

If a virus develops in the forest and no one is around to receive it, does it make a pandemic?

To answer the question, we must start with how science explains illness and how we as a society evolved our understanding, and thus we will come to a conclusion.

Bacteria. In 1676, Scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek developed a microscope and was the earliest person to document bacteria’s existence. It would be another 200 hundred years before scientists would connect bacteria’s existence as a cause of disease.

It was around 1890 when the world discovered and documented the existence of viruses. The electron microscope was invented in the 1930s and pictures of viruses. Just under 100 years ago. Even the viral flu that caused the pandemic of 1918 was never really ‘seen’ by scientists during the worldwide outbreak. But the impact and reality of the flu pandemic of 1918 are undeniable.

Even the discovery of penicillin in 1928 would not become widely used to fight infection until World War Two. It was at that time, penicillin was used to fight wound injuries and started to save lives. Our world would evolve with continued antibiotic development and use, extending life expectancy. Before antibiotic development, many common causes of death included pneumonia, diarhhea, and even tuberculosis.

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Coronaviruses and COVID-19. The common cold is a coronavirus. It is spread primarily through the airborne transmission of coughing, sneezing, etc… It is the reason we should accept the prevention of social distancing, hand washing, and masks (especially N95 masks) to reduce the spread. Scientists are evaluating the data and scientifically advocating mask use based upon results. Detailed recommendations for infection control in a hospital setting can be reviewed here. One of the most interesting theories is that every American wore an N95 mask for four weeks, Americans could eradicate the virus. Before you state that is not possible, may I remind you that we humans did eradicate smallpox – with an effective vaccine. Even before COVID-19, the desire to eradicate other illnesses like polio and malaria is among the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s missions.

You should be able to purchase high grade, N95 masks now in the United States. Companies such as T3 Gear, CastleGrade, and Breath99 sell American made, quality masks. Even if you can not get medical-grade N95 masks, there are KF94 masks that are available for public use, and they are very similar.

MASKS:  The concept of using N95 masks in healthcare originated from protecting medical personnel from Tuberculosis.  N95 masks are not used in surgery, but surgical masks are used to prevent infection mainly for the patient and protect the internal body from bacteria and viruses.

However, we can not get every American to agree to wear masks. Thus, we need more intervention.

Vaccines – vaccination is the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases.

mRNA vaccines are different than other vaccines because they are not introducing the virus or an attenuated version of the virus into the body. As mRNA vaccines do not use the COVID virus during manufacturing, they can not give you COVID.

mRNA science was in research before the pandemic. mRNA was being researched not only for vaccines but also for cancer immunotherapy and rare genetic conditions.

On December 11th, The first mRNA vaccine approved for emergency use by the FDA in the United States is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It is two injections given three weeks apart, and clinical studies report 95% efficacy.

As of December 23, 2020, a reported 1,893,360 first doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the United States, and reports of 4,393 (0.2%) adverse events after receipt of Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine had been submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). After evaluating the adverse reactions, the same report estimated the anaphylaxis rate of 11.1 cases per million doses administered.

One south Florida physician died two weeks after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. The physician experienced unusual adverse effects within days after the injection and developed ITP, a clotting issue. The CDC is investigating the death. Logically, his death was related to the vaccine dose, and even his wife stated people need to be aware adverse effects from vaccines can happen. However, his death from the vaccine is rare. One has to outweigh the risks of getting a vaccine and outweigh the risks of COVID infection. If death from a vaccine prevents you from taking it, then the same concept should also make you never retake a vacation.

For example, before the COVID pandemic and before any COVID vaccines, one south Florida physician died while on vacation. Was his vacation a risk? The point is all activities and living poses some risk, including driving to work, swallowing food, and exposure to the sun. Every day, we make decisions as best as we can. Some decisions inherently are riskier than others. One has to decide for him/herself which activities are greater. I would propose that the risk of COVID for some individuals is greater than the risk of vaccination.

Another health care worker died after the second dose of a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. I share this information not to scare the reader, but I feel it is important to understand risk. From my perspective, it is likely his death is due to anaphylaxis as it began within hours after the injection.

In Norway, 23 elderly or frail individuals have reported dying after the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has warned that “seriously ill people can suffer serious consequences if they have very few side effects from the vaccine.” The organization said: “Among those with very short lifespans, Pfizer’s/BioNTech’s corona vaccine will have little or no benefit.” 

On December 18th, The second mRNA vaccine approved for emergency use by the FDA in the United States is the Moderna vaccine. It is two injections given four weeks apart, and clinical studies report 94.1% efficacy.

As of January 10, 2021, a reported 4,041,396 first doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the United States, and reports of 1,266 (0.03%) adverse events after receipt of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). After evaluating the adverse reactions, the same report estimated the anaphylaxis rate of 2.5 cases per million doses administered.

To date, there are no reported deaths or investigations of deaths after the Moderna vaccine. There have been a reported 10 anaphylaxis reactions, but no deaths. One famous recipient of the Moderna vaccine was Hank Aaron. Some have questioned whether his death was related to the vaccine. However, he died peacefully in his sleep two weeks after the vaccine and had no known adverse effects after vaccination. For society’s benefit, it would be ideal if the family authorized and released an autopsy to the public.

Keep in mind that some of the anaphylaxis occurrences were in persons with a documented history of allergies or allergic reactions, of whom had a previous history of anaphylaxis.

Another company, Sanofi, is also testing an mRNA vaccine and in February will do a phase 2 study.

Who is first to be vaccinated? The recommendations vary based upon state guidelines, but generally:

Those who are at the greatest risk for dying from COVID are those aged 65 and older. Even more at risk are those who are in long term care facilities.

Medical workers are at greater risk due to increased exposure to the virus. They also suffered more than 3,000 deaths due to COVID in the United States, and many of those deaths were related to a lack of proper personal protective equipment.

People with underlying medical conditions.

One year into the pandemic and we are approaching 450,000 dead Americans. In Califonia, 1 in 13 infected, and one doctor, Zijian-Chen, estimates that 10% of those infected have long term health consequences from the viral infection.

How is it possible that after one year, we still are hearing people on the news pleading with others that “COVID is real, please wash your hands, wear masks, and be socially distant.”  They do not want you or your family to feel the pain and devastation of the death of a loved one. One has to wonder how people can deny the COVID pandemic. However, denial is powerful.

Other nations were quicker to adopt the protective guidelines and their citizens more co-operative to wear masks, thus prohibiting the COVID from getting out of control.

Viruses mutate. New strains develop. A minimum of four new mutated strains is already circulating in the US. One is the strain primarily found in California and may be related to increased deaths in the state during December and January. Another is the Brazilian strain. One is the UK strain. One is the South African strain. Another variant was found in New York. For simplification, the Brazilian will be known as variant A, the California variant will be known as variant B, the South African variant will be known as variant C, the UK variant will be known as variant D, and the New York variant will be known as variant E. The concern with the virus variants is that they can spread easier thus infecting more people. Also, they can cause more serious disease and thus kill more people. Worse, as might be the case with variant C, the virus may reinfect people who already had the infection or decrease the effectiveness of vaccinations. The idea of a deadlier strain vs. a more benign strain is not new. I theorized about this possibility back in the spring. In fact, members of mymedicnfo.com were benefiting from advocating for the use of masks by the general public back in March, even before the CDC and government recommend it for the general population.

Epidemiologist Michael Osterholm stated variant C is of concern. The Moderna vaccine is only 50% effective with variant C, thus prompting the manufacturer to research a booster vaccine to complement the existing vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine is only slightly less effective on two of these variants, according to the manufacturer. The two variants mentioned are variant C and variant D.

Success with vaccinations will be measured when fewer people get sick. Herd immunity will be achieved faster and safer with vaccinations. People will have to be informed, knowledgeable, and decide that they wish to be vaccinated and reduce the spread of COVID. That is a daunting task when one considers the impacts of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and distrust in the general population. Once herd immunity is achieved in the general population, the negative impacts of COVID on people’s lives and the economy will end. In the meantime, the best way to protect the most people will evolve. It may be that booster vaccination may be necessary for months, possibly years ahead.

Michael Osterholm recently advised the next 6 to 14 weeks will be the deadliest of the pandemic to date. He anticipates the variant C will become the dominant strain circulating the US in three to four weeks. He is an expert in pandemics, and his predictions have been some of the more accurate ones to date. Likewise, he feels we are in the “bottom of the third, top of the fourth inning with the pandemic,” which means we still have many innings to go.

What can we expect in the months ahead?

DNA vaccines:

There are currently two DNA vaccines that will be considered for approval in the United States.

The first is Johnson & Johnson. It is one injection. It was approved for emergency use authorization by the FDA the last week of February. As a note, the company halted its research in October as one participant became ill. Also, this technology was used by Johnson & Johnson to develop a licensed vaccine for Ebola. Data released on Jan 29th documents 85% effectiveness for severe disease after one dose. However, with variant C, the effectiveness is estimated to be 50%.

Osterholm also adds that the vaccinations and the body’s immune response take months to mature. In the vaccinations studies, the results are what happens after two months of the last dose administered. He adds that with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the results improved the farther you got out from the vaccination. Thus, he adds, he feels the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Moderna vaccines are almost equivalent in efficacy with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine’s advantage as it is more stable and easier to store in most clinics as well as only requires one dose.

The second is the Astra Zeneca vaccine. It is two injections.
It is approved for use in some European countries. The company also halted its research as one participant developed neurological concerns. The health council advised in Germany that it only be provided to adults age 18 to 64.

Recombinant protein adjuvanted:

Sanofi is partnering with GSK using technology that is already used in flu vaccines developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The study thus far does not show a promising immune response in people age 65 and older.

Novavax also is developing a vaccine based upon this technology but used a different adjuvant. It two vaccinations one month apart and requires only basic refrigeration. In studies in the United Kingdom, efficacy rates were 95% for the original strain of COVID and 85% effective for variant D strain of COVID. In a smaller study in South Africa where the predominant strain is variant C, the effectiveness was 60% in HIV negative individuals and 49% effective in HIV positive individuals.

Other companies attempted or are in the process of testing vaccines. Of note, Merck canceled both of its COVID trials.

COVID took over 1/2 million of our loved ones, colleagues, friends in the United States. Despite the tragedy, how rare it is is that there are couples who died within days, hours or even minutes of one another, and it would seem the odds of this is low during ordinary times.




Connections, relationships, bonds, and love are among life’s miraculous gifts. It is beyond this author’s ability to emphasize the importance of our spiritual connections and how precious our lives are.

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Original posted on 1/30/21, updated on 3/1/21 to include US made N95 masks, update information on Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and include the New York viral variant.

Copyright 2021 MyMedicInfo.com – all national and international rights reserved.

Health Care Professional

About Paul Connor

Nationally Certified Physician Assistant.
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