Viruses and Vaccines

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I’m sure you’ve heard that the FDA has approved a vaccine for COVID-19. In fact, it seems that they have approved two. There’s been a lot of hope attached to these vaccines, ever since the pandemic first broke out. It has taken a massive effort to bring us to this point, and it can be said to be nothing short of miraculous. But the vaccine is not without risk.

First of all, the FDA has permitted quite a bit of shortcuts in development and approval of the vaccines. Before these, the fastest that a vaccine ever made it through development, testing and approval was four years. These have been developed in less than one. That couldn’t have been possible without some shortcuts in the process.

The real question right now is just how safe the vaccines are. This is something that has many people concerned. With that fast rollout, did they take the necessary precautions or not. Are we going to have people getting sick or will it be fine.

I’ll have to say; I’m skeptical. But then, I’m the one guy in a million who gets the flu from taking the flu vaccine. I also have children who had allergies to vaccines when they were small. So, while I’m not an “anti-vaccer,” I’m not one to run out and try to be the first one to get the latest one on the market.

In this case, I think my skepticism might actually be justified. The CDC has already put a page up (available here), talking about how some people are having severe allergic reactions to the vaccine. Apparently there is some sort of nanoparticles in the vaccine, which can cause severe allergic reactions for some people. The technical term they are using is anaphylaxis, which can include a rash, vomiting, difficulty in breathing and shock. These latter two are the dangerous ones and can even be life-threatening.

The good news is that they know how to treat anaphylaxis; it’s done with an Epi-Pen. The CDC’s web page, talking about this potential reaction, advises that the sites providing the vaccine injections should have an Epi-Pen available, so that they can provide emergency treatment to any patient who has an allergic reaction. The Epi-Pen is an almost foolproof treatment for these sorts of allergic reactions.

As far as I’m concerned, I think I’ll wait a while to see how things pan out. Before taking the vaccine, I want to wait a while, just to see how others do. At a minimum, I want a realistic idea of what percentage of people are having problems, before they stick me.

While all this is going on, we’re also getting reports that the virus is mutating. A new report out of England talks about changes to the virus. This new strain is apparently more contagious and spreads faster. There isn’t enough data, as of yet, to have any idea of whether the mortality rate with this new versions of COVID is any better or worse than the one we’ve been dealing with.

This isn’t the first report I’ve seen about new variants of COVID-19; there was something that came out several months ago, talking about a new outbreak in China, about 1,000 miles away from the first outbreak in Wuhan. But the startling thing was that it was a new strain of the virus as well.

This is not unusual in any way at all. Viruses tend to mutate very easily. That’s why there are so many variants of the flu around. I’ve been expecting to see reports of the Coronavirus mutating, so have had my eye open for them. What surprises me is that I haven’t seen more of them, considering that this virus has spread around the world.

The danger in such mutations is that if the virus mutates enough, the testing we have and the treatments we’ve developed may no longer work. Not only that, but the vaccine might just end up being a waste of time if the virus mutates enough that the vaccination no longer protects us. If that ends up being the case, then we’re no closer to defeating this disease than we were before.

This is one of the difficulties that exist when dealing with vaccines. Like I said, it gives doctors fits, when it comes to trying to stop the flu. With the higher mortality rate of COVID, any such problem could be extremely dangerous. We’re just going to have to wait and see.

In the mean time, we need to continue wearing our masks, keeping away from others, washing our hands and doing everything we can to protect ourselves. The same precautions we’ve been practicing will protect us from a new strain of COVID, just like they’ll protect us from the one we know. For that matter, they’ll pretty much protect us from any viral disease that might come along.

So, keep your mask on, while keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand. As such, it’ really not all that different for us; at least not like it is for some.

Dr. Rich

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