To Your Health: Covid Vaccines, New Info You May Have Missed!

To Your Health: Covid Vaccines, New Info You May Have Missed!

Part-time Telluride local, Dr. Alan Safdi, is a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine. He posts regularly on Telluride Inside… and Out under the banner of “To Your Health.” Dr. Alan’s blogs feature the most current information in his fields: health, wellness and longevity.

Links to Dr. Alan’s podcasts and narratives on COVID-19 are here.

This week, the data in Dr. Alan podcasts – there are four – are about the hot subject du jour: Covid-19 and vaccines.

The J & J Covid vaccine, details.

Covid-19 vaccine myths corrected.

Covid-19 vaccine update: allergic reactions – should you worry?

Vaccine update: J & J plus other Covid-19 vaccines.     

The narrative below provides additional information on the subject.

.This image shows 3D prints of a spike protein (in the foreground) and a particle (background) of the virus that causes the new coronavirus. The spike protein enables the virus to enter and infect human cells, and it’s the target of many vaccine candidates, including Moderna’s vaccine. Photo courtesy of the National Institutes of Health.

Known as SARS-CoV-2, the virus has resulted in more than 106 million infections and more than 2.3 million deaths, with over 1 out of every 3 ICU admissions resulting in death. And that data is also prior to the new variants that have been identified. Those statistics are extremely daunting, but there is some good news on the scene. (Amen.)

Between the end of March 2020 and October 2020, the overall mortality rate from COVID-19 in intensive care units worldwide declined from 60% to 36%.

• During that time, doctors learned more about which drugs work and which do not, refined their approaches to oxygen and fluid therapies, and improved their management of blood clotting.

• Declines in mortality rates appear to have leveled off toward the end of that period.

• The analysis was unable to take account of the emergence of new strains or the rollout of vaccines.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine does more than prevent people from falling seriously ill. It appears to reduce transmission of the virus and offers strong protection for three months on just a single dose. Recently we have been concerned that the South African variant is potentially problematic for this vaccine. South Africa has paused its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after a study showed that it offered “minimal protection” against mild or moderate illness caused by the more contagious virus variant first identified there, known as B.1.351.

Another fascinating statistic with regard to the AstraZeneca vaccine you need to pay close attention to is that no patients experienced severe COVID-19 or required hospitalization three weeks after receiving a first dose, and that effectiveness appeared to increase up to 12 weeks after the initial shot. Seeing the vaccine have increasing effectiveness as time passes (up to three months) is encouraging. We may not reach peak efficacy at three weeks.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine work as well in patients who are obese? When researchers began to develop what they hoped would be an effective COVID-19 vaccine, they already knew that H1N1 influenza – a novel virus, like COVID-19 – more severely affected patients who are overweight or truly obese Patients with a body mass index of 30 or above had a higher risk of hospitalization and death from H1N1. A 2017 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill discovered the flu shot was less effective in patients who had excess weight or obesity. Adult patients who have excess weight or obesity are among the most impacted by COVID-19, and they make up more than 70% of the U.S. population. The good news is that 70% of the Pfizer COVID-19 trial participants, like the U.S. demographic, were overweight or obese. We are very happy that their study groups mimicked the US population. In short, the data released from Pfizer and the FDA show the vaccine is not only effective in participants as a whole, but in particular, patients with obesity.

• The COVID-19 vaccine is promising because it activates B and T immune cells, critical for long-term protection against viruses. B cell activity and levels have been shown to be lower in both mice and human subjects who have obesity following infections.

• The following is partially opinion based. Previous studies show a positive association between regular exercise before receiving a vaccine (not performed on the COVID vaccines yet) and your response to the vaccine, producing up to four times as many antibodies after being exposed to a virus or bacteria. That means antibodies are higher in those who exercised prior to vaccine administration versus those who did not engage in exercise. Also, it seems the type and amount of your gut bacteria may impact the vaccine response. Foods containing pre- and pro-biotics may assist as might other disease prevention and treatment interventions.

Dr. Alan, more:

Dr. Alan Safdi is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for four decades and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastroenterology.

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