(I haven’t been here in a long time. I don’t tend to read Medium articles and I don’t really know why I haven’t canceled my membership. I was about to post the following on my own website, but no one goes there, or my Facebook Account, but I have already posted another article there on a similar subject so I decided to drop this one here.)
There are several glaring mistakes that have been made in the vaccine roll-out. I wonder if you’re thinking of the same ones I am. Let’s see:
- Failing to test patients for antibodies BEFORE administering the vaccine.
This is the ultimate no-brainer. Given the fact that some studies indicate that there are three times more people who have had the virus than we have identified because they either had no symptoms or such minor ones that they never realized that they had been infected.
People in this category are presumed to have acquired conferred immunity from their SARS-CoV2 experience…but we don’t know:
a) if this is really true to begin with because we haven’t tested a large enough sample to draw that conclusion;
b) how long the natural conferred immunity might endure;
c) whether conferred immunity from one strain of the virus confers immunity from other strains of the virus (and recent reporting suggests that may not be the case.)
2. Nevertheless, by not testing EVERYONE before administering the vaccine, we have undoubtedly vaccinated a significant portion of the population that might not have needed it because they had already acquired conferred immunity from a previous exposure to the virus. We just don’t know how many — because we didn’t test everyone before dosing them.
Yes, this procedure would have cost more money, but it might have helped conserve the vaccine reserves, enabling us to roll out the vaccines more quickly to people who actually needed them…but it wouldn’t have cost that much more money.
Yes, this would have increased the amount of time spent per dose administered, but speeding the delivery of the vaccine to those who needed it most would have offset that time deficit.
3. We aren’t post-testing every patient, which is the only way we are going to be able to ascertain exactly how effective the vaccines really are…without waiting for future death statistics.
At present, we know (according to an article from Johns Hopkins published in the Journal of the American Medical Society on March 14, 2021) that immunocompromised patients — and especially those who are immunosuppressed to prevent rejection of solid organ transplants — are only developing antibodies in 17% of the cases, compared to the 100% efficacy among immunocompetent patients.
4. Without regular, periodic post-testing of vaccine recipients, we don’t know several things:
a) we don’t know how long the antibodies from the vaccines remain effective;
b) we don’t know which medication regimens or which underlying conditions cause the vaccines to be less effective (except for the study documenting that immunosuppressed patients do not generate sufficient antibodies) because we haven’t followed up properly;
c) because we don’t know a) or b), we also don’t know if or when booster shots will be needed, and we won’t know that until vaccinated people start coming down the virus anyway.
4. The rollout of the vaccine has been a massive disaster for a number of reasons:
a) in most of Europe, the rollout has been a disaster because the European Union insisted on bulk purchasing the vaccines rather than each country meeting its own needs. This is why go-it-alone Great Britain is much better vaccinated than other European countries.
b) here in the United States, we have a hodge-podge of state-mandated regulations controlling who will receive the vaccines according to various perceived need levels. While it might be “obvious” that the elderly, the ill, and those working in high exposure occupations should get preference, but that “preference” is highly undemocratic.
The more-democratic option would have been to conduct a lottery consisting of a random drawing for each birthdate in the calendar year so that everyone would KNOW precisely when the vaccine would be available to them. We should also have enabled people to donate, trade, or even sell — their scheduled dates to others who were more in need. Vaccine appointments are a commodity and should have been treated like a commodity.
This might seem counter-intuitive, but it is now clear that Covid-19 has been spread more by younger people congregating, partying together, or simply not following the rules.
One of the reasons we have seen so many younger people (and not just the ridiculous radical right younger people) refusing to follow the guidelines (masks, distance, sanitize) is that we told them they weren’t going to get their doses for a long time. ..and they simply just got tired of waiting.
If some of them had received the vaccines early on, we might have had a better chance of suppressing the surge by breaking the chains of transmission at the source of the transmissions.
THE TRUMP FACTOR
Hindsight is usually better than foresight but, in this crisis, we had a national leader who was incapable of foresight and who left us with a disorganized vaccination program, a disheartened cadre of career CDC scientists, and no clear messaging about the public’s responsibility to ourselves and each other during this crisis.
The new administration has been making great strides at fixing the problems that the last administration created, but we would have been far better off if an actual adult had been in charge.
As it is now, we are still contending with the massive amounts of false information that was foisted off on the public, creating a widespread disinclination to believe anything government says about what it can do, when it is going to do it, or what it is going to cost.
For an update on the latest information about how the vaccines are working among immunosuppressed patients, go here.