Hello, Friends of TVD!
As you will read below, things are pretty good from a COVID perspective in sunny California. However, things are truly tragic for our friends and families in India. As you have likely heard, India is currently fighting a wave of COVID-19 that is sickening hundreds of thousands—and killing thousands—every day. What’s more, it’s likely that these numbers are vastly underreported. The current situation is extremely serious. At the current rate of infection, it is projected that 1 million people in India could die from COVID-19 by August. Additionally, vaccine hesitancy is high within the country, with less than 60% of the population willing to be vaccinated. This is compounded by the low vaccination rate so far in the country—only 9.5% of the population currently is vaccinated.
Please consider a donation to one of many international aid groups who are working furiously to help. The NY Times wrote a piece here on trusted options. My personal recommendation would be to send a donation to the International Medical Corps, an organization founded in 1984 by my then faculty member at UCLA, Dr. Robert Simon. It was an honor working with him during my residency while he was working tirelessly to build IMC, which now works in some 30 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, providing relief to populations facing war, conflict, natural disaster, famine and poverty, while also laying the foundation for sustainable development.
That all said, what a pleasure to welcome the month of May in California with news of our continued progress regarding COVID-19. Cal Matters reports the state’s seven-day coronavirus positivity rate fell to 1.2% this past Tuesday, the lowest rate in the country. Just four months ago, California’s positivity rate was a staggering 17.1% and hospitalizations were surging to record levels. Again, a big shout out to all who helped make this happen, from your Team at TVD for their hard work, to all of you who have rolled up your sleeves to receive your COVID vaccine. As of this week fully HALF of Californians have had at least one dose of vaccine, and 37% are fully vaccinated. What great news.
And in another symbolic move, today, Friday, DISNEYLAND will be reopening after an unprecedented 13-month closure in what tourism officials hope is a sign of the state’s rebound from the pandemic. For now, the park is allowing only in-state visitors and operating at limited capacity.
While we await further study on vaccine in children, for those of you 16 years old and up, vaccine appointments are easier and easier to get, and I encourage you to get yours! Learn more at our FAQ, “How Do I Get My COVID-19 Vaccine. Vaccine up, people!
In the meantime, read on for our Dr. Jennifer Abrams’s update on COVID vaccine and pregnancy, why you do NOT need a blood test for antibodies to show you’re immune post vaccine from our pediatrician Dr. Jackie Phillips, further data on how “stress” is simply bad for you (and your vaccine immune response) from Dr. Sky Pittson, and another cameo appearance of yours truly (and my trusted MA, Kimmie), in our TVD Good News section below.
Please enjoy our newsletter, and share with your friends (they can sign up here!).
Eric Weiss, MD, April 30, 2021
NOTE: CV🦠News is a labor of love. If you enjoy reading this, please share widely! Was this forwarded to you by a friend? Please subscribe here.
Tune in for another segment of our interview with Dr. Eric Weiss and Medical Assistant Kimmie Butler! This week, we talk about what Eric and Kimmie are excited for in 2021 as we start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
There have been some substantial updates, all good news, to this question since the original article written on this topic in early February.
Last Friday, commenting on a recently published article on the topic in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during a White House press briefing that the “CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.” She walked that back on Tuesday, stating the agency’s stance has not changed from last month. The CDC’s March guidance she was referring to was less strong than a full-on recommendation, instead stating, “If you are pregnant, you may choose to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and “you may want to have a conversation with your healthcare provider.” The guidance adds, “Based on how these vaccines work in the body, experts believe they are unlikely to pose a specific risk for people who are pregnant. However, there are currently limited data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant people.”
Jennifer Abrams, MD, April 28, 2021
A growing body of evidence shows that our psychological state at the time of, and the few weeks following, vaccination can influence how well our immune system responds to a new vaccine, including the production of antibodies to help fend off infection.
Based on research on the effectiveness of other vaccines, physical (older age, obesity) and mental factors play a role. While immunologists hold a wide range of opinions on what those factors might be, most agree that stress has an effect… Read more
Sky Pittson, MD, April 28, 2021
Throughout the pandemic, the utility of antibody tests for different purposes has come into question a few times. Early on in the pandemic, many people wished to have their COVID antibodies checked in the hopes that they had in fact already been exposed and had just had very mild disease. Later on, people who had already had symptomatic COVID were interested in checking their serologies to determine if they still had immunity. Now people look to antibody tests wondering if they even need to be vaccinated given previous disease or exposure (the answer is yes) or some are hoping to prove that their vaccine worked. Unfortunately, the antibody tests currently available have not always been able to provide us with clear answers as we don’t yet completely understand all the specifics of COVID immunity after actual asymptomatic or symptomatic disease or after COVID vaccination… Read more
Jackie Phillips, MD, April 20, 2021
HOPE AND GRACE
If you have made it this far, time for a reward, something to lighten your day, and acknowledge the human spirit. Find some escape, or perhaps even inspiration, in this ever-growing collection of works and perspectives gathered from around the world. Please contact me directly if you have come across something that has lifted your heart today. Dr. Eric Weiss
NIH Director shares gratitude through “Here Comes the Sun” parody
To share his gratitude for NIH Staff, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins performed a Covid related parody of George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” made famous by the Beatles. With summer on the horizon, he celebrates all of the hard work health workers have put in over the past year in getting us to where we are today, with a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to Richard Morris for sending this video our way and giving us all a reason to smile!
Watch his performance here!
Gilroy Garlic Festival Announces it’s Return
The popular annual event was canceled last year due to Covid-19, so this year will mark the first festival since the tragic shooting that occured in 2019. It will take place over two weekends this summer – July 23-25 and July 30-Aug 1st at several locations in the city. Organizers hope to present events in socially-distanced and virtual ways this year. This festival has raised more than $12 million for the Gilroy community since 1979. “We will continue to work to connect our community with various smaller events, educational activities, and giving opportunities throughout the year,” Cline said. “Our historic mission to strengthen the bonds within our community is an ongoing commitment.”
Find more info about the reimagined festival format here.
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Again, CV🦠News is a labor of love. If you enjoy reading this, please share widely! Was this forwarded to you by a friend? Please subscribe here.
Yours, in health and resilience,
Eric and the TVD MD team…