News & Politics

Dear Dr. Wen: Stop Obsessing Over Masks and Vaccine Passports and Do Something to Help

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Dr. Leana Wen is a near-perfect example of everything that is wrong with vaccine and public health messaging during the uptick in COVID-19 cases. She appeared on CNN again Thursday promoting universal masking indoors, even for the vaccinated. She is a relentless advocate of some kind of vaccine passport, despite public data showing that stores, schools, and indoor dining were not primary drivers of transmission:

Yet, public data analyzed by ABC News appears to tell a different story. The data from states across the country suggests specific outbreak settings (including bars, gyms, restaurants, nail salons, barbershops and stores — for the full list, see graphic below in story) only accounted for a small percentage, if any, of new outbreaks after the pandemic’s initial wave in 2020.

Yet here she is again, whining about creating a two-tiered society and punishing everyone who doesn’t go along.

Again, horrid messaging regarding vaccines. As of July 12, the CDC is reporting 3,833 hospitalizations and 791 deaths due to a breakthrough infection out of 159 million fully vaccinated Americans. As far as population risk, that is effectively zero. The CDC reports that these breakthrough infections occurred among the same cohorts of high-risk individuals who suffered severe illness and death during the pandemic. From the CDC report:

  • Vaccine breakthrough cases occur in only a small percentage of vaccinated people. To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in the case demographics or vaccine characteristics among people with reported vaccine breakthrough infections.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are effective. CDC recommends that everyone 12 years of age and older get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they can.
  • People who have been fully vaccinated can resume activities that they did prior to the pandemic.

To date, data out of Israel and the United Kingdom show the Delta variant results in increased infections without the corresponding increase in daily deaths. Positive tests started to rise at the end of May:

(Image credit: JMHU)

There has been no lagging increase in deaths after two whole months. The infection and death curves have generally mirrored one another. With the Delta variant, in a highly vaccinated population—as of July 5 more than 90% of people over 50 were fully vaccinated—vaccination appears effective in preventing fatalities.

(Image credit: JMHU)

Dr. Wen needs to stop reducing vaccine confidence with her ridiculous masking recommendations. Vaccines protect the vaccinated individual. Broadly speaking, while nothing is 100%, the vaccinated should feel confident they are protected. The indoor masking recommendation contradicts the CDC’s advice as of July 12.

Related: Doctor: Delta Variant Panic Worse Than Variant Itself

The talking heads and public health bureaucracy need to calm the public. While the vaccines are effective, the CDC says that it takes anywhere from two weeks to 42 days from the final vaccine, depending on the brand, for them to reach full efficacy. Cases are rising now, with a reported transmission rate, R-naught, of 6.0, meaning that every person capable of transmitting the virus will infect six others.

Can these “experts” please get real? Dr. Scott Gottlieb was on CNBC Thursday and said that the consensus model from ten academic groups is that this wave will peak somewhere around Labor Day.  In the meantime, every one of these talking heads should be directing healthcare practitioners and patients to the NIH guidelines for early outpatient treatment of COVID-19.

The current treatment protocol recommends monoclonal antibody therapies for outpatients. The FDA has provided new emergency use authorizations for brands that demonstrate effectiveness against the Delta variant. The NIH has also demonstrated in vitro effectiveness against several other variants, including Epsilon. Healthcare providers are still telling patients to stay home and only go to the emergency room if they become too sick to care for themselves. That is malpractice at this point.

Recommended: [WATCH] Gov. DeSantis Skillfully Dismantles Arguments for Masking Children in 30 Seconds

It is also malpractice for public health officials and “expert” commentators not to be communicating this broadly and often. Even if an unvaccinated individual gets vaccinated today, he is at risk of contracting COVID-19 during this wave for up to 42 days. The NIH gives the monoclonal antibody recommendation an A rating, and the HHS has gone to the trouble of providing a locator for patients and healthcare providers.

If all these geniuses were serious about reducing hospitalizations, the risks of long-haul COVID-19 in the unvaccinated, and preventing needless deaths, they would be pushing this outpatient treatment every chance they get. They aren’t. Instead, ideologues like Wen are obsessed with new restrictions, creating a two-tiered society, and inciting panic. Is it any wonder that Americans’ confidence in our health bureaucracy is plummeting?