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Doctors address COVID misinformation

After the Jan. 11 San Diego County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, the county of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency staff collected statements made to a COVID-19 presentation to the Board. An independent panel of doctors from the San Diego region held a virtual review of COVID-19 misinformation shared in public comments at the meeting.

Participating in the panel were Dr. Eric McDonald, County chief medical officer, Dr. John Bradley, Rady Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Christian Ramers, Family Health Centers of San Diego.

McDonald said that one comment, that since no child under 10 has died from COVID-19, parents should not get their children vaccinated.

“No child should die from a vaccine preventable disease, but death is not the only complication of SARS COVID infection. It can cause significant illness in kids,” he said.

Bradley said while kids do better with this infection in general, they do get sick, and they do transmit the infection.

“And they can get MISC (Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children),” he said. “This post-infectious inflammatory condition where the virus is gone, but four to six weeks later, the body all of a sudden thinks the virus is there and causes this huge inflammatory reaction,” he said.

Bradley said hospital admissions with this infection is high, with most of these children having underlying conditions. He said even if it is mild, children will run fevers, have muscle aches, fatigue, difficulty breathing

“If you are vaccinated, the chance that you will get infected and hospitalized is far less,” he said. “A second really important reason is if kids are immunized, they will not be spreading COVID through their families. I cannot tell you how many people that work at Rady Children’s Hospital, healthcare workers and medical staff, whose kids who are not eligible for vaccines, and some who are and have not gotten it yet, pick up COVID from their friends and bring it home. None of the adults that I know are getting really sick but test positive and are off work. To spread immunity and get this under control it is important to immunize kids. We just published with the CDC the fact that vaccines can prevent MISC.”

McDonald said that it is important to understand transmission through children, and that transmission rates in the county at are at an all-time high right now with Omicron.

“It is likely that 5% of San Diegans area actively infected with COVID right now,” he said. “That is one in 20 people, so the burden in the community is very high. He said what comes up often is that Omicron is not as severe, so it is okay to be infected with it.

Ramers said in looking at data from South Africa and the United Kingdom, both which were hit with Omicron before the U.S.

“The good news here is that South Africa made it through this Omicron wave in about five to six weeks,” he said. “We have an incredibly rapid onset and a real quick decline. These numbers are lower than the Delta wave numbers, especially the deaths. But South Africa is a very different place than the U.S. We have a lot more people over 65 and a lot more co-morbidities in the U.S.”

Ramers said in the UK, which has a higher vaccination rate than the U.S., you see a huge decoupling of cases and a slight increase of deaths.

“That also indicates that we have a lower severity of disease,” he said. “But we absolutely know for sure that Omicron is much more contagious. Two to three times more than Delta and we already know that Delta is an incredibly contagious virus. If you have half the death rate and half the hospitalizations but you have five times as many infections the numbers continue to go up and that is why we are seeing in the U.S. It is simple math.”

Ramers said milder or not, cases are exploding, hospitalizations are at the highest since the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. “We have so much of it around our hospitals are in serious trouble,” he said.

McDonald said the message here is that if you have not been boosted, you should, and if you have not been vaccinated, you should because data shows the vaccine’s efficacy through data. But he said that many still believe that the vaccine is not safe, and that they know that is not true. He said people who spoke at the Board of Supervisors significantly understate the severity of COVID-19 in terms of a disease, then they significantly overstate the risk of the vaccine.

Bradley said first, the vaccine is safe and although children do better, that there was unmistakable evidence that they do better with the vaccine that without it.

“There are now, in the U.S., 7 million doses of Pfizer vaccines given to children in the 5-12 age group,” he said. “Anyone that says that they are going to wait, you do not have to wait any longer. The massive data from children in the U.S. tracked by our healthcare system is now in.”

Doctors address COVID misinformation

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Source: East County Californian

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