This is a recording of “COVID-19: Summer update Where we are TODAY,” a Zoom meeting held on June 23, 2021, sponsored by Dinno Health. The speaker, Dr. Robin Schoenthaler MD, has been following and writing about COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. She has developed a worldwide following for her weekly post on the subject. In this video, she will discuss the state of our knowledge about the disease, how to apply the science of COVID-19, getting an update on the variants, the vaccines, the behavior, the lessons learned so far from this pandemic.
I think it’s really important to ask people what their credentials are when we’re learning about something like COVID. What my credentials are is that I’m a long time student of epidemics mostly because the whole time that I was in medical school I was treating HIV and AIDS patients. So I got deeply into the history and the presentations of pandemics all for my entire medical career and I’ve been consumed by COVID from the start, from the very first day; in fact, we got shut down in Boston in Massachusetts on March 13th but I sent out my first Facebook advisory notice about COVID on March 6th. I continued to write weekly on Facebook and other platforms ever since.
The good news is that the science is going to win; the science is going to get us out of this and we can see it really visibly in all of these graphs which include this incredible decline in cases at the top hospitalizations and deaths. We still have just passed 600,000, which is absolutely crushing when you think of that, and when Fauci said it early on, you know, maybe it would be 150,000 and everyone was so horrified, and to think that all of this catastrophe is caused by this simple little structure. In every talk I give, I always just want to show this because it’s just beyond belief that this tiny structure that has this little yellow chain of mRNA chromosomal information sitting in a blob of butter with some protein spiked into it has caused all this. It’s such a simple thing. It doesn’t even have a brain. It’s not nearly as complicated as bacteria. It’s nowhere near as sophisticated as a cell and yet it just looks like this in real life and yet all of our lives have been affected.
Let me talk about variants because I know this is on everybody’s mind. I want to start out by saying viruses love to mutate, that’s what they do. The coronavirus has mutated a billion times. This is from long ago, this is from January, this is five months out of date. Each one of those dots is a variant, utterly inconsequential. None of them have had any major or virtually none of them have had any major impact and if we had the slide go out to June, it would show an equal number, maybe even more variants. Just showing you this to get across the fact that variants exist. It’s a survival of the fittest thing. Since only the strong survive, 99.99999 percent of variants are irrelevant.
We test everybody for COVID but we don’t test everybody for variants. In fact, one of the bad things about the first part of the pandemic was that we didn’t test well at all, even the CDC, which is set up to do it for flu. This is a common thing that they do for the influenza season to see if it’s mutating but they weren’t set up to do it for this. So when Biden took office, the CDC was running like 275 tests a day for the whole country to see if there was variants. Now assuredly we had variants but they weren’t showing up because we didn’t have enough tests to be able to run. I mean the last accurate number I could find was in April, 275,000 tests per day.
What happens though is that every time they come up with a variant, not all those 50 billion that I showed you, but what happens is they start to see those little dots of variants. And if they’re testing a lot, they start to see patterns and if they start to see a variant, one specific variant starts to show up more, they call that a variant of interest. And then if it looks like it has certain characteristics, it gets a promotion: it gets called “a variant of concern.” As soon as you get a variant of concern, the headline writers start losing their minds. If you feel compelled to read about variants of concern, what you want to know is: is this bug more contagious or transmissible? And the answer is usually yes. That’s how it became a variant, but is it more severe or deadly? As I’ve mentioned, no. They have not turned out to be more severe or deadly.
Watch the video to get the full and relevant discussion on:
- the effectiveness of vaccines,
- mitigating your risks,
- lessons to consider going forward.