According to Fox News, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) could issue new guidelines this week for fully vaccinated people that almost make sense. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has said the guidelines will be issued soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci previewed them during a press conference on Monday while previewing the roadmap for how people can emerge from isolation where it is still mandated. Don’t get overly excited, but here is his expert input:
“I use the example of a daughter coming in from out of town who is doubly vaccinated, and a husband and wife doubly vaccinated, and maybe a next-door neighbor, who you know are doubly vaccinated.”
“Small gatherings in the home of people, I think you can clearly feel that the risk, the relative risk, is so low that you would not have to wear a mask, that you could have a good social gathering within the home.”
On the upside, this is the first time anyone from the administration has signaled that people could inch back to something resembling normal. However, the most extensive controlled study on the Pfizer mRNA vaccine would indicate Fauci and the CDC are taking overly cautious steps. On February 24, the researchers shared a study of nearly 600,000 vaccinated Israelis. The vaccinated were paired with unvaccinated controls by age and preexisting condition who received a placebo. The protection provided to those who had received the Pfizer vaccine in Israel was impressive. Seven days after the second dose:
- The risk of a documented COVID-19 infection was reduced by 92%
- Symptomatic COVID-19 was reduced by 94%
- Hospitalization rates declined 87%
- Severe COVID-19 risk fell 92%
- The risk of death was not calculable even though 43.3% of participants had at least one risk factor from a preexisting condition
The researchers also noted that a reportedly more contagious variant, B.1.1.7, became predominant in Israel during the study period. The results indicated the vaccine is likely effective with emerging variants. This assertion is not surprising, as researchers have found reactive T cells in people who never had any exposure to COVID-19. Studies determined it is likely that this reaction is based on exposure to other coronaviruses. It would make sense that a vaccine designed to elicit a natural immune response would be effective against a new strain of the same virus.
On that note, when will the CDC give guidance for recovered patients and those who have tested positive for antibodies? If the vaccine elicits a natural immune response, why should those who experienced such a response after getting infected or exposed not have the same freedom as vaccinated individuals? As of the end of December 2020, there had only been 34 documented reinfections globally out of an estimated 42 million cases nationwide.
No single health bureaucrat has given a precise reason to support vaccinating recovered and exposed individuals. If you had chickenpox as a child, you did not get the vaccination when it became available later in your life. There is no compelling medical reason for the millions of Americans who recovered from COVID-19 or who tested positive for antibodies to get a vaccine until there is evidence of waning immunity.
We know from months of study that recovered patients also develop long-term immune responses with B cells and T cells. Patients monitored for eight months after the pandemic showed a robust and durable immune response that researchers took as an indication that such immunity could prevent severe illness for years:
“That amount of memory would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years,” said Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute of Immunology who co-led the new study.
There is no rational reason that recovered, exposed, and healthy individuals under 65 should not return to regular activity without masks given what we know now. There is no research to date that documents significant asymptomatic transmission. A review of research estimated that asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic virus transmission within the household is extremely low:
Estimated mean household secondary attack [transmission] rate from symptomatic index cases (18.0%; 95% CI, 14.2%-22.1%) was significantly higher than from asymptomatic or presymptomatic index cases (0.7%; 95% CI, 0%-4.9%; P < .001), although there were few studies in the latter group. These findings are consistent with other household studies reporting asymptomatic index cases as having limited role in household transmission.
If this type of transmission is low (0.7%) in the household, it could only be lower in outdoor settings, stores, hotel lobbies, restaurants, theaters, and expansive indoor spaces. The elderly and chronically ill should remain cautious until they are fully vaccinated. Still, there is no significant reason for the rest of us not to get back to business.
Of course, President Joe Biden and the health bureaucracy have been critical of Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves for lifting statewide mask mandates and occupancy restrictions in businesses. Biden called it the Neanderthal approach when asked about it. Oh, and President Biden can take off the mask. He’s fully vaccinated. Dr. Walensky warned about increasing cases.
Cases of #COVID19 are on the rise.
As of March 1, the 7-day moving average of new cases is 66,010, a 3.5% increase from the previous week. Now is not the time to relax prevention measures. Wear a well-fitting mask. Stay 6 feet apart. Avoid crowds. More: https://t.co/YT7LKi6sF2. pic.twitter.com/5fjf0h0G9e
— CDC (@CDCgov) March 3, 2021
After combing through CDC reporting, the only state I can find that mirrors the slight uptick in the seven-day rolling average in the nationwide data is Texas. The state is also the one where the Biden administration is releasing COVID-19 positive illegal border crossers into the state. Maybe knock that off.
However, maintaining restrictions for 66,010 cases in a population of approximately 340 million seems like overkill. Especially when some estimates say 15% of the population is fully vaccinated and 55% probably has acquired immunity through infection or exposure. The pandemic is waning. It is high time the health bureaucracy and the administration admit it.