Letter from the Editor: Readers shared lots of opinions about COVID; I’m presenting facts

My column of two weeks ago, about the resurgence of COVID and the reasons behind it, was one of the best-read this year and provoked passionate responses from readers. There were a number of good questions, or assertions that I thought deserved answers.

I called in some MLive journalists on the topic to provide answers based on facts. Justin Hicks and Danielle Salisbury, reporters who cover public health, have been talking to doctors, vaccine experts, hospital administrators and others with a deep knowledge of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a sampling of the letters I received, and answers that Hicks and Salisbury gathered from the people who have the facts.

Reader: You said nothing about all the cases of COVID that occur in people who are already vaccinated, nor did you mention the many people who have suffered horrible adverse reactions to the vaccine and even died.

MLive: COVID-19 vaccines are very effective at preventing serious illness from coronavirus infection, but it’s true that no vaccine is 100 percent effective. Less than 1 percent of the fully vaccinated population have experienced “breakthrough cases.” Adverse reactions to vaccines are rare, and many of those reactions – like blood clotting and heart inflammation – have occurred more commonly in COVID-19 patients than those who get vaccinated.

# # #

Reader: Does the vaccine alter your DNA or your body in any way?

MLive: No. COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. One doctor put it this way: When people get the vaccine, they get a piece of the RNA. When people get COVID-19, they get the full genetic sequence and it multiplies billions of times. The vaccine disappears in a couple days. So, if vaccines did alter DNA, everyone who has had COVID has seen their DNA altered.

# # #

Reader: Can you get seriously ill or die of COVID if you are generally healthy and have no comorbidities? Do most people who die from COVID actually die from something else?

MLive: Individuals with underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems are at greater risk of developing serious cases of COVID-19. However, there have been cases in which individuals with no underlying conditions have had serious bouts with the disease.

As of Aug. 11, the U.S. has reported 610,425 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to the CDC. In at least 90 percent of those deaths, COVID-19 was listed as the underlying cause of death on the death certificate. For the remaining deaths, COVID-19 was listed as a contributing cause of death. It is common, in all deaths, for there to be more than one health issue listed on a death certificate as contributing to or causing a person’s death.

# # #

Reader: I am a senior citizen, unvaccinated, unmasked and intent on spreading real truth. My family has all contracted COVID. It was no worse than a cold and lasted maybe 10 days or so. I attribute our health to a good lifestyle, no obesity, diabetes or any of the comorbidity factors that increase severe COVID symptoms.

MLive: Many Michiganders haven’t been so lucky. An emergency room physician at Spectrum Health told MLive he estimated 40 percent of symptomatic cases come with mild symptoms, while another 40 percent have moderate symptoms. The remaining 20 percent is the problem area – 15 percent are severe illnesses and 5 percent are life-threatening. While it’s true that underlying health conditions, including obesity, can result in more severe illness from this virus, it’s not that simple. Studies have estimated that almost 1 in 4 symptomatic COVID-19 infections results in one or more health issues at least 30 days after diagnosis. While many people survive their infection, many others will deal with health consequences long after their test comes back positive.

# # #

Reader: This is hardly a dangerous outbreak compared to the others we have experienced. That earlier time was when we had no existing immunity from cases and no vaccine. Now we have many immune from having had COVID and close to 70 percent vaccinated adults. Where is the extreme danger? Where is the need for the earlier draconian measures that destroyed our lives and livelihoods? What exactly is the emergency?

MLive: It’s true that the current rise in coronavirus transmission is nowhere near the levels we saw in previous surges. By contrast, the state is reporting about 1,300 cases and nine deaths per day, compared to more than 7,000 cases and more than 115 deaths per day at the peak of the fall surge. In fact, Michigan ranks 49th in new cases per capita. But elsewhere in the country, hospitals are getting overwhelmed, and Michigan’s health-care community is asking people to take precautionary steps to prevent the same wave from hitting them. Nearly 60 percent of Michiganders 12 and older are at least partially vaccinated, but that leaves about 3.44 million people who could be susceptible to severe illness. That’s plenty enough to overwhelm hospitals, which have said 95 percent of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

# # #

Reader: How long do antibodies last if you have had COVID? Do we know how long they may last if you have the vaccine?

MLive: Professionals don’t really know how long they last. So far, the vaccines are proving to be long-lasting. Eight months after the initial roll-out, they remain very effective – almost 100 percent – at preventing severe illness and death. The CDC says that even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible – although rare – that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19. Data, so far, show people who have natural immunity are almost as equally protected. For people who have already had the virus, the vaccines will only give them better protection.

# # #

Reader: If you look at statistics of actual results (not the so-called science) those states with the strictest mask mandates had higher infection rates. This is because the vapor cloud of an infected person wearing a mask does not dissipate as quickly because the mask blocks the force of their breath so the next person in line at a store (for example) walks into a highly contagious vapor cloud.

MLive: For starters, your first point is misinformed. There is ample evidence that mask wearing decreases transmission. For example, during the spring, the CDC released a study that found counties that implemented mask mandates had statistically significant decreases in daily cases and death rates within 20 days of implementation. Similarly, case rates increased in communities following the re-opening of indoor dining, in which people removed their masks indoors.

As for the science behind masking, it’s true that vapor can escape through and around most non-fitted masks. Vapors show masks aren’t perfect. However, masks do a really good job at keeping larger particles from escaping. As we talk, breathe, and cough, we release varying sizes of respiratory droplets and the larger droplets, which carry more of the virus, are caught by the mask. The mask limits the amount of virus released, and the velocity to which the droplets can travel.

If you’re infected with coronavirus and checking out at the grocery store – for example – people following you are going to be exposed to more virus if you’re not wearing a mask than if you are wearing one, and they’ll be exposed to less virus if you’re both wearing a mask.

# # #

There you have it – thoughtful answers to the kind of questions you may have had during this pandemic, sourced by journalists from the best experts on the topics they cover.

Does it change your mind about anything? Maybe, maybe not. Facts can inform opinions, but opinions cannot create facts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I appreciate readers who share theirs with me.

But we all share one set of facts. What you do with them is up to you.

John Hiner is the vice president of content for MLive Media Group. If you have questions you’d like him to answer, or topics to explore, share your thoughts at

Source link

Get in Touch


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.


Related Articles


Get in Touch


Latest Posts

Supportscreen tag