We are already seeing colleges and universities requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for students to attend classes in the fall. The vaccine is being tested for children under 16, and there may be school districts that attempt to require it in the fall. All of this pressure to vaccinate the young, given their relative resilience to severe disease and near-zero fatality rate from COVID-19, is unprecedented. The health bureaucracy is not nearly as insistent about the flu vaccine, even though it often makes children much sicker and often carries higher fatality rates in children.
To encourage you to vaccinate your children, the experts from the CDC and NIH were on television this weekend recommending that children remain masked until vaccines are approved for their age cohort and they receive them. This advice is just bizarre given what the science says about children passing the virus to adults. It is so well known that Switzerland told its citizens last April that children under ten could resume regular contact with their grandparents. The health experts also know that immunity in exposed and recovered patients is robust. There was also preexisting immunity in some portion of the population based on exposure to other coronaviruses. Yet, the CDC and NIH have not clearly conveyed this to Americans.
Senator Ron Johnson went on Tucker Carlson Tonight and shared that his doctor recommended he not receive the vaccine at this point because he has successfully recovered from the virus. This medical advice is entirely reasonable based on the current science and is the purpose of the doctor-patient relationship. Johnson also stated that he was concerned about the push to vaccinate children without full FDA approval. The vaccines are still given under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because of incomplete safety data for their use at any age.
The lack of understanding of recovered immunity is so poor that MSNBC anchor Brian Williams accused Johnson of doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin. Williams went on to say that Johnson’s statement was exactly what a Russian asset would say. On CNN, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra appeared to agree with a host when asked if there should be laws keeping unvaccinated people out of buildings. According to the CDC data on COVID-19 effectiveness, this rhetoric is next-level insanity.
According to CDC data, through May 10, 2021, the rate of hospitalization after being vaccinated was 0.000690%. The chances of COVID-19 being fatal was 0.000157%, or, effectively, one in a million. A person’s lifetime risk of dying in a car accident, crossing the street, or falling from a height is all well under one in 1,000. So, why are we being told to mask children and behaving as if unvaccinated people without symptoms pose an outsized risk to the vaccinated?
All of this becomes even more astounding when you learn that the FDA has given a EUA to a test that identifies preexisting T-cell immunity. This test goes beyond simply testing for antibodies from a recent infection. Instead, it tests for T cells, which are like sentinels. When they detect cells infected with a virus they recognize, they kill them and trigger antibody production. Destroying infected cells stops virus replication inside them and calls in the other immune cells to find and inactivate any viruses circulating in the bloodstream.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the T-Detect COVID Test developed by Adaptive Biotechnologies. The T-Detect COVID Test is a next generation sequencing based (NGS) test to aid in identifying individuals with an adaptive T cell immune response to SARS-CoV-2, indicating recent or prior infection with SARS-CoV-2.
According to the developer’s website, T-Detect identified 97% of past PCR-confirmed COVID-19 infections, while antibody tests only picked up 77% approximately two months after the illness. The chief scientific officer for adaptive technologies, Harlan Robbins, also noted:
As infection rates continue to soar, T-cell testing can help us understand the true prevalence of COVID-19 in our communities as well as the degree to which our population is protected from future infection. At the individual level, the availability of a T-cell based clinical test could be useful for people who suspect they may have had COVID-19, but were either unable to get tested or had a negative PCR test at the time of their illness, and who want to know for sure whether they had the disease.
Oddly, I can find only one local news story and one each on Bloomberg and Yahoo News covering the availability of this test. Where is the head of the FDA encouraging people to get tested for this immunity before getting vaccinated? Why are the government and insurance companies covering the vaccine and the COVID-19 test but not the test for durable immunity to the virus?
Once it was discovered that there was the possibility of preexisting immunity, just as they found with H1N1, this type of test should have been a public health priority to assess the real vulnerability in the population. It wasn’t, and a legitimate question is why. It would have provided much richer and more accurate data about the actual risk to the population for severe disease and refined any mitigation steps. Knowing this information could have reduced the damage to the economy, our children’s education, and the effects of isolation that we will be dealing with for years to come.
Before vaccinating children or young adults, parents should strongly consider testing them for a T-cell reaction first. This population rarely suffered a severe illness, but it’s possible they were exposed and had an immune response. Parents should also demand that schools and colleges accept evidence of an immune response in place of proof of vaccination.
One of my children reacted to the diphtheria pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine and received just the DT portion for the rest of the immunization schedule. Then this child had pertussis, also known as whooping cough, as a toddler. A titer test, similar to T-Detect, was always sufficient proof of immunity for schools and colleges. It is unclear why COVID-19 should be any different now that this test is available and operating under the same authorization from the FDA that the vaccines are.