Random Thoughts – Randocity!

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

Posted in Health, medical, safety by commorancy on December 31, 2020

If you’ve watched CNN, Fox News or CNBC, you’ve probably seen a number of medical correspondents like Dr. Sanjay Gupta or Dr. Leana Wen who consult for CNN during this pandemic. Let’s explore their lack of fiduciary responsibility to the general public.

Medical Doctor or M.D.

To get a license to practice medicine, a person must not only obtain a preset amount of medical training and gain experience in the form of internships, they must also agree to the Hippocratic Oath. This oath originated with Hippocrates (born 460 bc). This oath essentially states, among other information, “First, do no harm”, however, this exact wording does not exist in the oath in its original Ionic Greek form. Instead, it has been translated with levels of interpretation necessary to be understood by an English speaking audience. One might say that the original Ionic Greek form has been altered and updated to modern society standards.

The difficulty with revisionism by third parties is that these revisions were not by the hand of Hippocrates. Regardless, the sentiment of what Hippocrates wrote still essentially remains.

With the phrasing of “First, do no harm”, this runs quite a bit counter to the COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s dive in and understand exactly why.

Mouth Piece

One thing you have to understand about the medical industry, particularly for “celebrity” medical doctors is their level of sway they have with the general public. With a brand like Dr. Sanjay Gupta, he has built his celebrity reputation on seemingly good and sound medical advice over the years. As he has so carefully built this brand, he has been careful to ensure that his messages are in keeping with his brand message and also doesn’t run counter to his medical training or, in general, the medical industry. The same can be said for Dr. Leana Wen, though her brand image is far less solidified than Dr. Gupta’s.

Unfortunately, during this pandemic, these medical “doctors” have taken an odd turn, staking their own personal brands and reputations on a rushed vaccine.

Instead, these medical correspondents, not just for CNN, but all of these news networks, have simply become talking head mouthpieces for the medical industry as a whole. While the pandemic rages and gets worse, killing ever more and more people, these mouthpiece medical practitioners sit in front of cameras spewing the rhetoric of an industry that really hasn’t proven itself to be harmless. More specifically, the pharmaceutical industry.

The Medical Cycle

The medical industry is, unfortunately, a bunch of collusive teams all working together to create a whole. I’m not here to say that each of these industries are bad in and of themselves; it’s just that when combined, they create a whole that’s not completely without “First, do no harm”. It’s very difficult to regulate disparate industries that have only minimal relationships with one another.

Below is an image that demonstrates both the collusive and parasitic nature of each of these industries. With that big $ sitting in the middle, it represents an industry that makes trillions every year. Let’s understand exactly how much money is at stake:

“How much money is in the healthcare industry? In 2018, the global healthcare sector’s revenue was $1.853 trillion, an increase of 4.5% on a year-on-year basis. When it comes to healthcare expenditures, the US tops the list, spending $10,224 per person.”

https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/healthcare-statistics/

Over $10,000 per person per year! Wow! What other industry in HISTORY makes this much money per person per year? Yeah, collusion.

What the above image says is that Hospitals rely on both Doctors and Pharma companies for their continued monetary success. Note that I didn’t include equipment manufacturers in this graph, but know that they are out there. Medical equipment manufacturing is a tertiary industry that is needed to supply all 3 of these industries with similar equipment. In fact, the equipment manufacturers are probably the only industry that are mostly outside and don’t act in collusion, but instead, they sit to the side and feed above monetary cycle. However, these equipment manufacturers also make more than their fair share of money from this industry.

Also note that the arrows flow in both directions because money flows both ways. Doctors feed the pharma companies by prescribing. In return, pharma companies grease the Doctors via kickbacks, residuals and free medicines. Hospitals pay their Doctors, in return Doctors act as sales persons for the Hospital by using their expertise and brand reputation to bring repeat business to the hospitals. Pharma and Hospital relationships are entirely obvious and money flows both ways buying and using medicines.

There’s also the research arm of this industry, but most of the drug research resides within the pharma companies. There are also the insurance companies that, while not directly part of the medical industry, act as the glue between the public and this entire industry. Without this “monetary glue” the entire medical industry would fail and couldn’t exist. Should insurance companies be included in the above? No, because they do not practice medicine in any way. They believe they should by making medical decisions based on when to cover and not cover illnesses, but they are firmly outside of that industry.

I don’t wish to digress into the scammy and unnecessary nature of the insurance industry, so I won’t. However, I may write a follow-up article to discuss just how much of a leech, a scam and an unnecessary burden is the insurance industry on pretty much every part of life. I’ll leave it at that. Let’s continue.

Industry Acceptance, Coercion and Blackmail

Doctors are practically held over a fire to keep their license. Instead of being about altruism, it ends up being about falling into the trap of someone bigger than you. A doctor’s practice is held over the fire by their license. Without a license to practice, doctors can’t make a living. It’s basically a legal form of coercion.

What that means is that unless a doctor practices social restraint and, in fact, continues to tow the industry accepted lines of thinking, the doctor may find themselves out on their ass without not only their job, but without a way to make a living. This means that a doctor is almost constantly “coerced” into towing both big pharma ideals, but in towing hospital ideals. They must make sure their opinions don’t run afoul of either of these two entities, either one of which could see to it they can’t make a living.

Either of these “big brothers” may coerce and collude to keep the doctor in line, just like a parent keeps their petulant child in line. Threats of being fired or, worse, losing their license is a strong incentive not to make waves in the industry and to tow the sometimes distasteful practices that have been tossed at their feet.

Medical Correspondents and News Channels

As we circle back around to news channels, we now begin to understand why both Dr. Gupta and Dr. Wen mostly pretend that the COVID-19 vaccine is entirely safe and effective. If they don’t do this pretending, particularly with their powerful celebrity status, this could torpedo the entire vaccine acceptance strategy (and their own personal careers).

I’m not here to say that these vaccines aren’t safe or effective, but I’m cautiously optimistic… the exact stance a medical professional should take. When Dr. Gupta got his shot on camera, I could see a fair amount of trepidation in his eyes. However, his words (and forced expressions) overrode his eye and body language. Just watch the video below and notice his wide eyed expressions closely:

What this says to me is that while he does in some way believe the safety and efficacy, he also realizes the dangers of this mostly untested vaccine. In fact, I got the distinct impression that he felt like an unwitting pawn in this situation.

Levels of Desperation

With the amount of deaths per day, the medical industry feels a tremendous amount of pressure coming from every angle. There’s pressure coming from politicians (and the President) to come up with a solution to the pandemic. There’s also internal pressures coming from pharma companies towards doctors to push their latest “vaccine” as efficacious and safe.

With this measure of not only industry pressure, there’s the level of desperation by the public into wanting a fix and wanting it yesterday. The economy is failing. Businesses are closing. Unemployment is spiking. The pandemic is taking a huge toll on our current way of life. It’s digging deep into every industry, every person and into every single aspect of our current social existence.

Because of all of these levels of desperation, pharma felt pressured to delivery something, anything. They did. The difficulty is not that pharma delivered, but what they delivered.

Prudent or Reckless?

There’s a fine line between being prudent and being reckless and sometimes it’s difficult to see when that line has been crossed. Unfortunately, desperation is never the reason to jump into something that appears to be a miracle. That miracle might, in fact, turn into hell.

The doctors claim that the medical technology used in the vaccine (messenger RNA) is something that’s been in existence for years. The difficulty is that this technology has never been used in vaccines, at least not until today. Even while the technology may have been known for years, putting it into practice is an entirely different thing.

From concept to vaccine delivery was a total of about 9 months, the time it takes to conceive a baby and deliver it. Those 9 months included a rapid clinical trial of a month or two at most.

Most drugs that hit the market have had years of clinical trials (i.e., plural… more than one). This vaccine had a total of one clinical trial. Sure, the amount of participants was large, but it was still only one clinical trial. In fact, the trial excluded certain at-risk groups of individuals, such as pregnant mothers and other at-risk people. In effect, the trial utilized only healthy adults without preexisting risk conditions. Unfortunately, that leaves the vaccine at risk of causing harm “in the wild” because it won’t just be put into the arms of those non-risky individuals. It will be inserted into the arms of pregnant women, children, asthma sufferers, COPD sufferers and all manner of people with diseases of the mind and body.

In short, the quick trial skipped key tests… test that may negatively impact those at-risk folks who were not represented during the clinical trial. It’s risky and it’s disturbing.

Let’s come back to Dr. Gupta and Dr. Wen on CNN.

When these correspondents appear on CNN, their banter about the vaccine is one-note. It’s almost as if what they’re saying is entirely scripted by the pharmaceutical companies and not of their own words. I’ve yet to hear ANY cautionary warnings or verbal trepidation from either of these “doctors”. As I said, “Scripted”.

It all seems so contrived and canned as if to “reassure” the public how safe and efficacious the vaccine is.

Exercise Caution, Restraint and Critical Thinking

While these TV news doctors continually spout almost 100% positive rhetoric that these vaccines are perfectly safe, I’m not convinced… yet. I’m firmly still in the “wait and see” camp. The clinical trial was way too quick, provided way too convenient results and hasn’t in any way been challenged by doctors who should be challenging how the trial was handled.

Instead of challenging anything about the trial, these doctors are being shown given a literal shot in the arm (see above). Even politicians are doing this.

Is the vaccine efficacious AND safe?

The theory behind the vaccine formulation has merit, to be sure. It forces the body to create and replicate antibodies against alleged innocuous portions of the virus. The difficulty is that the mRNA is a foreign invader. It’s something the body hasn’t seen before. The body’s immune response may be somewhat calculated, but there’s no way to know long term effects on the body.

Could the vaccine lead to disruption in key functioning of other body functions either now or in the future? These are thing we can’t know. Because the clinical trial wasn’t able to test any portion of it long term, we simply have no idea what long term effects the vaccine may have on the body’s systems. We simply don’t know what the vaccine may cause 1, 2, 5 or 10 years later.

Compared to getting COVID-19, it’s a toss-up. COVID-19 may also produce these same effects in the future. We can’t know what we haven’t tested… and that’s exactly where we are with the vaccine. Injecting portions of this foreign invader into the body with a minimal tested trial, we simply don’t know long term effects.

We aren’t even sure just how efficacious this vaccine technology will be against the virus in the future. We might find that even after the second dose that the vaccine’s effects wear off 6 months later. The vaccine’s effects may not even be effective against future mutated strains of COVID-19. Again, because the clinical trials couldn’t test long term ANYTHING, we simply have no information. This is the reason why critical thinking is important. We must use our brains and realize that without proper testing, this vaccine may not be all of what it is claimed to be.

Not only might it not be effective, it might cause more side effects than giving us the immunity it was intended.

Wait and See

If you’re thinking, “I work on the front line so I need it”, think twice. That’s desperation talking, not critical thinking. You can’t jump on board simply because you fear getting the virus. You must take the vaccine because it has proven itself useful, not because someone says that it is. Believing hearsay is the quickest way to problems.

I’m not saying the vaccine isn’t efficacious. What I am saying is that the vaccine hasn’t yet proven itself efficacious other than under very specific and controlled circumstances. The world doesn’t work like a controlled clinical trial. There are far too many unknowns when giving shots to people who are not under controlled conditions. This falls under the safety factor. These unknown safety issues can lead people to injury and death. These are possible consequences from these vaccines. It seems that the clinical trial was mostly focused on efficacy over safety. That’s not to say that safety wasn’t a factor in the trial, but it wasn’t the primary motivation in its formulation.

Injecting an unknown substance into your body always has risks, from infection, to allergic reactions to unforeseen consequences, such as Bell’s Palsy, injury or death. We simply can’t know what we don’t know.

Money

Let’s come back to that big $ hanging out in that image above. Money is how the world works. No one does something out of 100% altruistic intent. No, money is how the world-goes-round. Big pharma companies aren’t in it for the altruism. They are in it for how much money they can make. While those who receive the shot may not pay for it, make sure you understand that pharma companies are well paid for producing these vaccines. Without money, these vaccines wouldn’t have been made. It is about how much money pharma can make off of it with as few negative consequences as possible.

Unfortunately, drugs aren’t without side effects. Pharma companies are well aware of that fact. Therefore, for every drug they introduce, they have not only insurance, but also lawyers to work through injury and death lawsuits.

With the pandemic, we really don’t know if suing Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca will even be allowed. Because of the pandemic, the government might give these pharma companies complete immunity from prosecution or lawsuits. What that means is that these pharma companies might have been given carte blanche by the government to produce whatever they want with impunity… no matter how damaging it may become.

Future Vaccines

There’s also a danger in the manufacturing process. As the first batch of vaccines might be somewhat effective, future produced vaccines might not fare as well. As the manufacturers find cheaper materials, faster processes and more efficient manufacturing, that can cause errors to creep into the formulation. That could also mean that vaccines made in February might be less efficacious and more dangerous than those produced in December.

We simply don’t know what Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca might introduce, alter or change in a few months or even next week. It’s extremely hard for me to jump right into this “vaccine is safe” argument and state that the vaccines are 100% anything. There are way too many unknowns to make blanket statements about this vaccine.

For this reason, I’m firmly in the wait and see group. I want to allow others to have first dibs at the vaccines to see how well they fare and what possible outcomes might result from their experiences. After I see how that works out for them, I can then look at those side effects and make a better informed choice.

Right now, we simply don’t know enough. We are flying mostly blind. We need to be able to see exactly how bad the vaccine’s effects may get to judge it against what we know about COVID-19. Only then can we make an informed choice. You don’t want to jump into the vaccine only to find yourself in the hospital clinging to life because the vaccine had a severe consequence on your body. COVID-19 is a bad disease, but the vaccine’s long term consequences could ultimately be worse. We simply don’t know… which is why waiting at least some time is prudent.

Vaccination Confusion

As we move into the vaccination process, comes confusion and, in some cases, sabotage. The confusion stems from many different reasons and from different directions. The first confusion is the two dose schedule. Some people will assume one dose is enough and skip the second dose. Worse, some patients may not be told that there is a second dose (or will forget due to memory issues) and will end up skipping the second dose not knowing it is required to receive full effect from the vaccine.

The second problem stems from multiple vaccines from different manufacturers. As of this article, there exist two approved vaccines in the United States, including the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines. There are three more are on the horizon including AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax. Because each of these vaccines have different storage requirements and likely different administration schedules, this puts the onus of which virus vaccine you receive on you. If you get a first dose of the vaccine, but you don’t remember which manufacturer’s vaccine you received a few weeks later, you won’t know which follow up dose to get. That leads to…

If you get the Pfizer vaccine initially… then for the second required dose, you can’t switch and get the Moderna vaccine. The two don’t work together. Because each vaccine has a different mechanism of action and formulation, the vaccines are not interchangeable from the first to second doses. You must get the same vaccine for the second dose that you got in the first dose. Some people will conflate this, take the wrong second dose, assume they are protected and then get COVID-19.

The next problem is vaccine administration practices and vaccine authenticity. A hospital has already gotten mixed up and administered the wrong medicine instead of the vaccine. While this may seem to be a clinical error, it goes way deeper than that. As administrators of smaller and smaller hospitals and medical clinics become responsible for buying vaccines to administer to their patients, inevitably these mix-ups will become intentional. For example, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that some clinics are intentionally injecting plain sterile water into the arms of individuals instead of the authentic vaccine. It could be that the clinic simply can’t get a supply or it could be the administrator is unscrupulous and is selling the vaccines out the back door for real money while injecting patients with fake product.

Speaking of intentionally doing things, we have already seen a hospital worker allegedly intentionally sabotage a supply of the vaccine by taking it out of the fridge overnight. That hospital worker has since been fired (and now arrested), according to many sources, but all of the above is just the tip of this unsettling iceberg.

Counterfeit Product

This last problem, keeping in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, is grey and black market product. As vaccines slip out the back door of hospitals and medical facilities, unscrupulous scalpers may attempt to sell and inject this grey and black market product into people who are way, way down the list. These products might range from authentic to plain sterile water to dangerous drugs. You don’t know what you’ll receive when you go the grey market route. Keep in mind that even reputable hospitals might even fall prey to injecting grey market or counterfeit vaccines into people. There is a wide range of ways that all of this can manifest.

Right now, we’re at the very start of this process. By the end, we’ll have heard of most of the above, if not a lot more shysters, scams and hucksters trying to make a quick buck off of the vaccine.

For safety precautions, always ask to watch the medical worker pull the vaccine from a properly labeled vial. If you can request them to show you the vial beforehand so you can read the label, all the better. Make sure that the label appears genuine and that the product appears authentic. While fakes can sometimes appear better than a genuine product, in a hospital medical setting, one would always hope that everything dispensed is entirely genuine. If you’re visiting a urgent care clinic or a small medical facility, like a doctor’s office, make sure that you ask when they received the vaccine, how old it is and if it was properly stored.

If you’re injected with an improperly stored vaccine or, worse, a fake product, it might do nothing at all or it might have negative health consequences. So, to the best of your ability, request to inspect that the vaccine is authentic and ask all of the right questions about storage and handling. If your doctor suddenly says they have vaccine doses at a time when hospitals are unable to obtain them, this should be a huge red flag. A doctor’s office may have gotten counterfeit product from a scammer.

Scammers abound and these are people who are more than willing to take advantage of small doctor’s offices for their own scamming benefits. They will pretend to be medicine distributors only to sell the office cheap and fake products. By the time the doctor’s office realizes and potentially injects some patients, it may be too late.

When considering your turn at the vaccine, be exceedingly cautious as the vaccinations progress into the future. Scammers WILL find ways to scam this entire process if not outright sabotage it. You must be diligent and ask the right question before they jab that hypodermic needle into your arm.

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COVID-19: Should I help out?

Posted in advice, Health, medical, pandemic by commorancy on December 22, 2020

Here’s a solid question that may appear to not have a clear answer, but it really does. Let’s explore.

Emergency aboard a plane

Imagine you’re flying on a plane to get somewhere. Imagine that the person across the aisle from you appears to be having trouble breathing and is sweating. Then, imagine that same passenger begins having a seizure which turns into a medical emergency. Now imagine another medically trained passenger steps up and begins performing CPR on this now stricken passenger and continues performing this activity until the plane lands (i.e., over an hour).

This scenario just played out on a United Airlines flight on Monday December 21st. A scary situation to be sure. Is jumping in to aid a possibly COVID-19 infected passenger wise? Could this situation have been avoided?

COVID-19 has familiar symptoms including shortness of breath, sweating, fever, chills and other outward signs of infection. These symptoms, particularly when this severe, should be easily spotted. Yet, no passengers, none of the flight attendants, none of the airport or airline attendants did anything to question this clearly ailing man before boarding, while boarding or during the flight. How does this happen?

Airline Negligence

Before I get into the meat of this article, let’s discuss the side dishes. This side dish is negligence. When you’re flying on a commercial jet, it is the airport, TSA and airline staff’s responsibility to properly vet passengers all along the way for who may be showing outward symptoms consistent with COVID-19. How does an airport and an airline miss his condition? This is the job of those who run airports and airlines. This is partly why they get paid.

Clearly, this man should have been coughing and having trouble breathing even sitting in the terminal. COVID-19’s symptoms don’t appear at a moment’s notice. Clearly, not only is the airport itself, but so is United Airlines entirely remiss in spotting this ailing passenger at the many touch points of passenger check-in. Even the TSA failed to spot his condition!

How does an airport and a wide array of airline and airport staff miss seeing a sweating, ailing, coughing passenger in their midst? I’m at a loss here.

Passenger Due Diligence

It’s not really on the passengers to do an airline’s or an airport’s job. However, it is on every passenger to stay aware and vigilant of their surroundings. We’ve all been taught to stop, look and listen. During a severe pandemic, it is firmly on ALL of us to be aware of our surroundings. With the pandemic, we need to become even more vigilant and hyper aware of those around us by listening to and watching everyone around us. If someone is coughing, sneezing, wheezing or appears in any way distressed, you should not only move away from them, you should get as far away as possible.

However, when we’re sitting in an airport waiting for a flight, we’re trapped at that terminal. What that means while we can move away from someone who appears to be ailing, we must also notify those in charge that a specific passenger appears to be in a problematic state. At that point, those in charge would need to step up and determine whether that person is ailing, has a fever or appears to have any outward signs of COVID-19 and to pull that passenger aside and deny them access if necessary.

In other words, there were so many touch points that failed to identify this distressed United Airlines passenger, it really throws into question just how diligent and effective airlines and airports really are to screen infected passengers. It’s clear that they missed this passenger. It’s also clear that the passengers themselves missed notifying those in authority.

Passenger Aids COVID-19 Passenger

When the distressed passenger moved into a medical emergency aboard the flight, another passenger aboard that flight decided to jump in and perform CPR. The aiding passenger wasn’t entirely sure if the passenger was COVID positive. However, it has been reported that the wife of the passenger had later stated he had tested positive. This means that this aiding passenger should have known he had tested positive before performing CPR. Here’s Face’s tweets on this subject:

He claims that the distressed passenger’s wife never mentioned that her husband had tested positive. However, it has been reported that she had stated that he had tested positive. I’m not sure of this conflicting information, but it’s possible Face never asked her before jumping in to perform CPR. Unfortunately, his efforts to perform CPR didn’t succeed and the passenger succumbed to his COVID-19 medical fate and died.

As a result, this helping passenger has now tested positive himself. Should he have jumped in to help? Let’s understand this question a bit more in detail. It is also the meat of this article.

Helping in a post-COVID world

While Face may seem like a hero at a time when this passenger needed CPR most, the difficulty in performing this medical intervention is ultimately COVID-19. Coughing, sweating and fever don’t indicate a condition that warrants CPR. It indicates COVID-19. CPR may be required IF the person goes into cardiac arrest. However, let’s understand the position this distressed passenger was actually in.

This situation occurred aboard a flight while in the air. Flights have limited access to medical equipment, but planes do have a defibrillator… a defibrillator which should have been used first to attempt to resuscitate this patient before attempting CPR. Planes may have small oxygen canisters aboard for flight attendant use. It is unknown if this was used.

COVID-19 is an illness that can escalate into a life threatening situation quickly, particularly aboard an airliner where air pressure and oxygen saturation is reduced at 30,000+ feet. That means less oxygen is available when flying on an airliner. For someone with trouble breathing under the throes of COVID-19, boarding an airliner, as in this case, could end up a death sentence.

As I said, there is very limited medical equipment aboard a commercial jet. Let’s understand that even as hospitals get inundated with massive amounts of COVID-19 patients, even their ability to handle these patients is limited and in many cases fails leading to death. Why then would a good Samaritan think they can save a COVID-19 patient clearly requiring access to hospital equipment and oxygen?

Lending Aid

While I applaud Face’s willingness to jump in, the effort ultimately proved entirely futile. Worse, not only did it prove futile, Face became infected with COVID-19 by performing his good Samaritan routine. I applaud good Samaritans willing to self-sacrifice to help out another person, but at some point, you have to logically deduce the odds of success.

For example, if the wife had been forthcoming about her husband’s COVID-19 positive test, it would have been perfectly clear that this passenger was afflicted with COVID-19 and that almost no means could impact his survival short of a hospital visit. That means this first responder would know his odds. Considering that there is very little medical equipment aboard a plane, performing CPR alone would not be enough to stem the tide of what COVID-19 is doing to this person’s body. Logically, he should have assumed COVID-19 (based entirely on this person’s symptoms) and deduced his efforts would fail. Helping is great, but not when the risk far outweighs the reward.

Let’s better understand this logical dilemma. If hospitals with access to their best doctors, best procedures, best medicines and best equipment can’t save severe COVID-19 patients under that level of distress, what makes a basic trained first responder think that performing CPR alone can?

At some point, you have to calculate the odds of success and deduce when the risk is greater than the reward. For Face, this means the unknown of how COVID-19 would impact his health. Will he survive his own infection? Could he end up in a similar situation clinging to life?

That’s what we all face in a post-COVID-19 pandemic world. We must make critical decisions that can impact our own survival.

However, this situation could have been prevented if even one person had stepped up at the airport prior to boarding, recognized his symptoms and called an ambulance to get him to a hospital. Seeing how far along that he was with COVID-19, it’s possible that even a hospital couldn’t have changed his fate. However, that everyone missed recognizing his so obvious symptoms not once, but many times all along the way is disconcerting… no, horrifying.

Ever Vigilant

As we move further and deeper into this pandemic, regardless of the vaccines, we must acknowledge this virus’s effects on the world. We must remain vigilant to those around us no matter where we are and what we are doing. What that means is that if we’re at a grocery store or restaurant or at Target (or aboard a plane), we must remain hyper aware of those around us. We need to stop, look and listen. If someone is coughing, sneezing or appears to be sweating or having any other outward signs of illness or distress, we must move as far away from that person as we can get. You must always look out for you in this pandemic. No one else is.

If you can leave the building and come back later, even better. There’s no reason to stay and risk your own health or those of your family by bringing COVID-19 home. COVID-19 is clearly a devastating illness with severe consequences. Denying that these consequences exist is a recipe for exactly what happened to both Face and that distressed passenger aboard that United Airlines flight.

Worse, every single passenger and crew aboard that same flight could potentially face testing positive for COVID-19 following that flight. There’s no telling exactly what may have flown around in the air while that passenger performed CPR. That situation is a danger to everyone aboard that flight… which means that everyone aboard that flight can now become super spreaders unless the passengers are forced to self-quarantine for at least 14 days. Yet, I haven’t heard anything about this. I’m not even sure that everyone aboard that flight is even aware of what happened. Has United Airlines contacted the CDC with the passenger manifest? Has the CDC contacted every passenger to ensure quarantine? Doubtful.

Not only did United Airlines ignore this aspect of this COVID-19 positive man’s ride aboard the flight, the airline acts like everyone who was aboard is now perfectly safe.

This is why we must ALL remain vigilant. We must step up and call out people who appear to be ill. We must stop them from boarding flights or trains or entering stores. If an airline (or manager) refuses to take action, we must refuse to board the flight and choose to take another flight. Is it really worth risking your own health for the possibility of becoming infected while on a flight, all while knowing that a coughing and sneezing passenger is three rows up from you?

Air Travel During a Pandemic

With the pandemic quickly spiraling out of control, is it the best of ideas to be hopping aboard a plane? While I know that sometimes we must travel for family emergencies or other situations out of our control, we must also acknowledge when not to travel.

Right now, traveling aboard any airliner, train or other means and which affords contact with members of the public, isn’t the smartest of ideas. Worse, many airlines have been reducing their responses to COVID-19 by increasing passenger load aboard planes while the pandemic escalates into the highest infection rates and deaths we have seen so far. While I realize a lot of people don’t believe the pandemic is real, the above United Airlines story is a stark reminder of how very real COVID-19 is.

If you don’t need to travel during the pandemic, don’t. There’s no reason to sit next to other people who may not be as vigilant or as concerned about the pandemic as you are about your health. Unfortunately, our illustrious President has entirely downplayed the seriousness of this pandemic… even going so far as to ignore the worst surging portion of the pandemic entirely over the last several weeks since the 2020 United States Presidential election. This apathy has been taken to heart by many people who believe just as our lackadaisical President.

While we can’t control what others do, we can control what we ourselves do and how we respond. That means avoiding public transportation, avoiding eating at restaurants, avoiding shopping in stores, avoiding doing outdoor activities where we come into contact with the public in close proximity and choosing to not go out unless absolutely necessary. If you need to invite someone into your home, like cleaning staff, baby sitters, plumbers or electricians, require that they wear masks the entire time they are in your home.

Quarantine Period in the Home

For anyone entering into your home whom you don’t know, such as plumbers, electricians or even maid services, they can easily bring COVID-19 into your home. It’s important that you ensure that you protect your home and family. After someone has entered your home, you should avoid the room they have visited for at least 24 hours (if possible) and open the windows to allow it to completely air out. If you can’t avoid using that room, then you may want to use Lysol or another disinfecting product to clean the surfaces they have touched. If you can wait an hour or two for the air to settle, then you can use disinfectant on surfaces to kill any viruses they may have left behind.

For maid services, you should request limited services to limit their exposure around your home. Better, suspend maid services or limit them to once a month. It can be difficult to stop emergency home services, but optional services should be limited or eliminated.

It’s difficult to foresee every single possible exposure in your home, so just use your best judgement. If someone wants to enter your home and it’s not critical for your home, reschedule for them to come back after COVID-19 has passed.

Where do we go from here?

The pandemic is not going away. It’s also very real. Should we bank on the vaccines? No. It is a stop-gap measure. At first glance, it may appear to be the pin that punctures the COVID-19 balloon, but it may simply be a small bandage. That small bandage may prevent the balloon from popping when the pin is inserted. Instead, it may allow a very slow deflation which could take years to ultimately deflate.

Ultimately, the vaccine has promise, but it has not yet proven itself to be the single thing that halts this virus in its tracks.

The only person who can keep you away from infection is you. Taking the vaccine may help and is something that may be required eventually, but only you can prevent you from becoming infected. You have to decide when and how often to go out. You must decide whether you wish to attend a gathering where the vast majority of people are not wearing masks. You must decide how important your health is to you.

For example, the distressed passenger above took it upon himself to subject hundreds of other people to COVID-19 aboard a flight knowing that he tested positive. Who in their right mind does this? It’s clear he wasn’t in his right mind. This is the mind of, at best, a sociopath… someone who puts their own goals above all else and above all others. Karma had other plans for him. Many people don’t believe in Karma and Fate. Good on them. That doesn’t mean Karma doesn’t exist.

While movies like Final Destination take Karma and Fate to ridiculous levels by setting up highly elaborate Rube Goldberg machines that ultimately result in the death of a character, Karma doesn’t work like that. Karma is the act of making the unexpected happen at the most inopportune times, mostly as a result of a careless act by the individual.

For example, if a person is in the throes of COVID-19 and is already in severe breathing distress, the reduced oxygen and pressure on a plane at a high altitude is likely to cause a cardiac episode. Why? Because the body cannot get enough oxygen to support the body’s systems. While one might not think that Karma is at work, it is. Anyone who understands how planes operate must recognize this situation. If this man had realized his own level of lung distress, he would have turned around and checked himself into a hospital, not boarded a plane. By not understanding exactly how well a plane’s oxygen functions at high altitudes, he sealed his own fate (and potentially those he infected along the way).

His stupidity coupled with Karma sealed his fate aboard that airplane. There was literally nothing that anyone could have done to prevent that situation from unfolding. You can’t resuscitate someone with that low of an oxygen saturation level. Planes do have small oxygen tanks for flight attendants to wear in case of emergency, but it is unknown if those tanks were used or even if they were enough to help. Regardless, that passenger’s fate was sealed when he stepped onboard that flight.

What this all means is that you need to know what you don’t know. In this case, what he didn’t know about how oxygen levels work on a jet ultimately killed him. As I said above, even with the best of medical care in a hospital, survival of this virus can be a problem, particularly if the body becomes that level of distressed. There was no way a random trained individual could provide the level of care necessary for a COVID-19 infected person who was that far gone. No, that distressed passenger sealed his own fate by entering that plane. He may have also callously sealed the fate of all aboard that flight by infecting them. However, Karma stepped in to intervene, but not before allowing everyone aboard that flight to potentially become infected.

Ultimately, that man will no longer be able to spread COVID-19 to others, but unfortunately at the price of he himself dying.

Denying COVID-19

COVID-19 is a real and dangerous virus. It is at least 6 times more deadly than cold and flu viruses combined. For those who continue to deny that COVID-19 is a real, I feel for you. I don’t understand that level of delusion, but I can feel for you and pity you. The phrase “Ignorance is bliss” only holds true when that ignorance leads to something other than death. When death is involved, ignorance is most definitely NOT bliss.

However, for those folks who are willing to attend rallies and gatherings without masks, who visit bars and party like it’s 1999 and who choose to “Throw caution to the wind”, then there’s an award for that… The Darwin Award. If you bring COVID-19 down upon yourself by choosing to ignore your own personal safety and then subsequently die, then a Darwin Award waiting for you on the other end. Too bad you won’t be able to accept it when you’re pushing up daisies.

As the author of this blog, I’m perfectly okay with that. In fact, I wholeheartedly endorse allowing these folks to become infected. If they can survive, fine. If they die for their own stupidity, then the gene pool has been cleansed of yet another stupid person.

People can be kept from their own folly for only so long. Eventually, people succumb to their own bias and prejudices and will do whatever they feel they must. If that means hanging out at a bar with others drinking and cavorting in close proximity, well then “Hello, Mr. COVID”. If that leads to a Darwin Award, so be it.

I don’t wish harm on others, but I also won’t keep people from their own fate and folly. It’s not my place to tell people how to live their lives. However, I can write advice articles like this to inform. How someone utilizes this knowledge is entirely on them. If that knowledge is ignored, that’s perfectly fine.

I write these articles to relay my own knowledge and experience. My blogging goal is to use my knowledge and experience to help others become just even the wee bit wiser. If that happens for even one person, then I’ve done my job. I can’t save the world, but I can help save those who wish to read these articles and learn from my experiences on this earth.

Anyone who chooses to deny and ignore COVID-19 as though it doesn’t exist deserves whatever fate befalls them… that fate which has arisen from that ignorance. I shrug and walk away from those people. There’s nothing I can do for those who wish to remain ignorant. Darwin has other plans for them.

Full Circle

To circle back around, if you are a medical professional or a trained first responder, you need to rethink your own involvement with COVID-19 distressed individuals outside of a hospital setting. The only exception is ambulance drivers. These are not only trained professionals, they have a mobile hospital at their fingertips. They can then transport the distressed individual to the hospital quickly for further treatment. Outside of an ambulance setting, attempting CPR on a distressed COVID-19 patient at 30,000 feet up is not likely to succeed.

Everyone must be smart enough to calculate the odds of a COVID-19 breathing distressed patient. Even hospitals with their vast array of medicines, equipment and expertise can’t save every COVID-19 patient in distress. At some point, the patient must be left to see if their own body will overcome the illness. In the case of the distressed COVID-19 patient aboard the United Airlines flight, there was almost no way to save that person with the extremely limited amount of medicines, medical equipment and expertise aboard that airliner.

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Are contact thermometers spreading the coronavirus?

Posted in advice, Health, medical, personal security by commorancy on February 14, 2020

contact-thermometer2This seems a fairly straightforward question and seems like it should have a fairly straightforward answer. With all sorts of makeshift fever checkpoints being set up to screen for the coronavirus by so many cheapskate companies, it’s definitely a risk. Let’s explore.

Contact Thermometers

What is a contact thermometer? It is an electronic thermometer that looks something like so:

contact-thermometer

These contact thermometers must come into skin contact with the forehead or ear to perform its job. Why is this important to your health? It’s important because many makeshift fever screening zones for the Coronaviris (COVID-19 aka nCoV-19) utilize such low cost contact thermometers to check for fever, but at a severe risk of transmitting it.

Sweat and Transmission

Many people believe that sweat can’t transmit a virus. However, if you’ve got a fever, you’re likely perspiring a little. Even still, that doesn’t make using a contact thermometer an unsafe choice by default. But, it can still spread a virus for other reasons.

When people are asymptomatic (or even symptomatic), they can rub their noses or eyes, then rub or scratch other parts of their faces. This can then rub the virus on other portions of skin. This means that using such a contact thermometer could pick up a latent Coronavirus on a forehead or ear and transmit it to at least the next person that thermometer touches.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to protect yourself from such a screening point unless you turn around and leave or refuse to use their contact thermometer. While in the US, such refusals might be met with some consternation until explained, in a country like China, it might lead to much more drastic action by the authorities.

Amateur Hour

However, those in charge over the setup of these impromptu screening zones and which are forcing the use of contact thermometers (without any sanitary protection) are clearly medically untrained amateurs. A virus is a virus. It transmits like all other cold viruses, through contact. If that contact is through the surface of a thermometer or by rubbing your hand across a railing someone has just touched, you can pick up a virus. This type of spreading is called contact spreading. It’s one of the primary reasons that cold viruses spread so easily and rapidly.

You will still need to put your hands in your eyes, nose or mouth to fully infect you, but that’s not at all difficult considering how frequently we touch our eyes and noses and scratch itches. We also must eat, so touching our food with an infected hand is very common. It’s not a matter of if, but when after exposure.

Washing Hands

Hand washing is important, particularly before consuming any food or drink, after having been out and about in public. If someone touches an unsanitary thermometer to your forehead at a screening zone, visit the restroom and wash your face and hands immediately. Don’t wait. Use soap and hot water, if available. Better, don’t allow a fever screening area to touch anything to you.

Non-contact Thermometers

non-contact-thermometerThere are non-contact thermometers available on the market. Unfortunately, they are much more costly than the contact variety. Cheapskate companies may not be willing to shell out the $$$ to buy these more sanitary thermometers. There are also other sanitary versions of thermometers which utilize disposable tips. Either of these two methods of screening thermometers would be fine for use at a public screening check point. However, all skin-to-skin contact thermometers need to stop being used  at public screening checkpoints.

In fact, I might even attribute some of the spread of the coronavirus to such well-meaning, but entirely amateur fever screening points… points which have unwisely chosen contact thermometers for public screening.

If someone intends to place a thermometer against your forehead, say, “No.” If they seem dismayed by your statement, explain, “That contact thermometer is likely already infected, if not even by the coronavirus.” No one wants to get the regular cold or flu, let alone the coronavirus. Nothing should touch your skin when being checked for fever at a public screening point. If that screening point can’t determine if you have a fever without touching something to your skin, that’s a sanitary issue on their part… and not your problem.

Screening Points

Anyone in charge of setting up impromptu screening points to test for fever needs to use a device that either has disposable sanitary coverings between each check or is of the non-contact variety. Preferably, nothing should be touched to the surface of anyone’s skin, then touched to another person. Anything that performs skin to skin contact has a high probability of transmitting viruses from one person to another. This makes these fever screening checkpoints exceedingly risky ventures with a potential for legal liability should death or injury occur.

I’m guessing that these check points were not designed by someone in the medical profession, that or these operators simply don’t understand how viruses are transmitted. Either way, it comes down to amateur hour.

If you happen upon an impromptu fever screening check point, do not allow anything to touch your skin. If they can’t check your fever without touching you, simply leave and go somewhere else. There’s too much risk of infection by allowing someone at a checkpoint to touch you.

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Cytokine Storm Syndrome: The Drug Trial That Went Wrong

Posted in botch, business, medical by commorancy on October 13, 2018

Here’s a story about six men, in 2006, who endured the fight for their lives after a drug trial went horribly wrong. The above program runtime is 58m 15s. Let’s explore.

Method of Action

As soon as the method of action of this drug was revealed in this documentary, my first thought was, “Uh oh”. Trying to teach the immune system to do anything is somewhat akin to attempting to steer a flood away from a town. The immune system attacks foreign invaders. That they injected this drug not knowing exactly how many receptors it might bind to was a severe “UH OH” moment before I even watched this. I already know how unpredictable the immune system can be. To intentionally try to tame the immune system to solve a medical problem is essentially playing with fire.

Too Many Mistakes

There were a number of mistakes made during this trial as well.

  • Not enough separation between patient injections
  • When reactions began to occur, the trial should have been halted until determining each injections patient’s reaction extent. Isn’t the point to document the reactions?
  • Waiting too long to determine the problem and attempt countermeasures.
  • The trial doctor was horribly uninformed of reaction possibilities
    • Because doctor was uninformed of side effects, the facilities were ill prepared to handle what came after
    • Not enough drugs or equipment handy to handle medical complications

Trial Paradigm Failure?

The 10 minute separation between the patients was far too quick a succession, particularly when you’re screwing with the immune system, to fully understand how the drug might react. When the first patient began experiencing problems, the trial should have halted further injections to assess the already injected patients. This trial simply threw caution to the wind and endangered all of its trial participants even when they had huge red warning flags from patient 001.

That the doctor wasn’t self-informed on the possible reactions and had to spend valuable time to seek information later, “Wow”. If that’s not the very definition of uninformed, I don’t know what is. Before a single vial was injected, the doctor should read and understood each and every possible manufacturer side effect including having enough known remedies handy. You can’t know what you don’t know, but you can know what is written down by the manufacturer. Not reading and comprehending that literature fully before starting the trial is a huge mistake. If he had fully understood the ramifications of cytokine storm syndrome before injecting a single patient, he could have had started countermeasures much, much sooner in these patients.

If he wasn’t proficient in cytokine storm syndrome, he should have had a doctor on standby should the patients need another opinion.

The almost fatal mistake here was the attending doctor bought fully into the hype of the manufacturer that “nothing bad” would happen after injection. That’s called taking things for granted. Trial drugs are experimental for a reason and must be treated with all of the seriousness and respect they deserve.

Patient Trials

While it’s critically important to trial medicines in humans, it’s equally important to perform those trials in as safe a manner as humanly possible. This includes performing these trials in facilities capable of handling the load of every patient in the trial potentially crashing. If there’s not enough equipment in the hospital facility to handle that number of simultaneous crashes, then the trial needs to be moved to a hospital that can handle this patient load.

No trial clinic should be waiting for ambulances, equipment and medicines to arrive from around the city. All of this should be immediately on-hand, ready and waiting. To me, that’s a huge failing of the company that scheduled this trial. That company should definitely be held accountable for any problems that arise from being ill prepared at its clinic facilities.

Cytokine Storm Syndrome

One of the possible side effects after the doctor read the manufacturer’s literature of the trial drug TGN-1412 was a cytokine storm. He only read this after the trial had started and patients were already suffering. Cytokine storm is when the body’s immune system reacts systemically over the whole body. It can cause basically rapid shutdown of organs including fever, nausea, redness (heat) because the body’s immune system is attacking… well basically everything. That this reaction was fully documented in the drug’s literature is telling. It says that the manufacturer knew this was a possible complication, yet the trial doctor didn’t look at this literature until it was nearly too late.

Of course, by that time other doctors had been consulted in the midst of crashing patients, these other doctors felt the need throw their own wrenches into the works by claiming the drug itself may have been tainted or improperly stored, prepared or handled… possibly causing these patients to have an systemic infection. Throwing this wrench into the works was also reckless by those additional doctors who joined in on the action. Perhaps they needed to also ready the manufacturer’s literature before jumping to that conclusion.

It’s good that someone finally decided the correct course of action was to treat for cytokine storm as the manufacturer’s reactions suggest, but not before one of the trial patients had ended up with dry gangrene losing his fingertips and parts of his feet. A horrible ending to a drug trial that was ill prepared and improperly staffed for that kind of a drug reaction.

Hindsight

I know it’s easy to both see and say all of this in hindsight. But, I have worked at many companies where the all mighty buck is rules… basically, “Do it for as cheaply as possible”. The saying, “You get what you pay for” applies in every situation. I’ve worked for many organizations that blaze ahead with projects without fully evaluating all consequences of their actions. They do this simply because they want the product out the door fast for the least amount of money. They don’t care what problems might arise. Instead, they deal with the problems along the way. If that means throwing more money at it later, so be it. Just don’t spend it now.

To me, that’s reckless. Thankfully, I have never worked for a medical organization at all. I’ve chosen to stay away from that line of work for the simple reasons of what this level of recklessness can do when put into the hands of medical organizations. This trial should be considered the very definition of reckless and what can happen when the all mighty buck is more important than patient’s lives. Thankfully, the NHS stepped in on behalf of the patients and treated them as the sick patients they were, not guinea pig trial participants.

I encourage you to watch the program in full. Then please leave a comment below if you agree or disagree.

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