SARS-CoV-2 mutations dominate healthcare concerns; majority of citizens get vaccinated, others protest
As 2022 begins, Clark County families look back on a turbulent 2021 with COVID-19 at the center of their lives. Since the pandemic began, the county Public Health department reports 48,999 cases of the coronavirus as of Dec. 30. That’s close to 10 percent of the population.
The overwhelming number of those people successfully recovered as 597 people are reported to have died with the virus over the past two years. It is not known how many died because of the virus as opposed to how many died from other ailments, but who also had COVID sickness.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Dr. Anthony Fauci recently made that point, emphasizing the number of people in hospitals with the virus versus those in the hospital because of the virus sickness. Since all hospital admissions are tested for COVID-19, Fauci said, many are “hospitalized with COVID, as opposed to because of COVID.” The real reason for hospitalization might be “a broken leg, or appendicitis, or something like that,” he continued.
The coronavirus mutated several times. The Delta variant was less severe but more contagious, causing an increase in COVID-19 sickness during the summer and early fall. It was called “a game changer” by Clark County Public Health Director Dr. Alan Melnick.
By December, the Omicron variant exploded on the scene. It was much less lethal than either the original Wuhan virus or the Delta variant; but much, much more transmissible.
Students and parents rallied at many protests in support of children being allowed back in classrooms. A broader effort began as citizens rallied for freedom and against government mandates in the face of Gov. Jay Inslee, school administrators and public health agencies exerted more and more control over people’s lives and health choices.
The Washington Department of Health (DOH) data indicates Clark County experiences around 3,400 to 3,800 deaths each year. That would indicate about 8 percent or one out of 12 people who died in the last two years were listed as having COVID-19. That’s slightly more people than die from the flu each year, but numbers for 2020 and 2021 are not posted by the DOH.
For Clark County residents, the biggest issues were likely around their children and schools. Many parents fought battles with school administrators trying to get their children back into classrooms, or being provided accommodations so their child could adapt to the challenges of numerous mandates tied to education.
Washougal mom Patricia Bellamy gained notoriety after getting kicked out of a Washougal School Board meeting with another concerned mom over alleged mask requirements concerns. That led to several protests as other parents joined the cause.
Melanie Gabriel, at the time was an eighth grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Vancouver, was one of more than a dozen people who just wanted to be heard at a February school protest. They had a message for the teachers’ union. They want schools to reopen now. They need schools to reopen now.
Heather Wendling made it to the rally, too. She was there for Melanie, and she was there in the memory of her daughter London Bruns.
“My daugther London committed suicide Sept. 21st. She was 13 years old, same age as Melanie, who has been struggling with her mental health,” Wendling said. “So I’m out here to support her and to try to get kids back in school because kids are literally dying to go to school right now.”
Mandates and freedom triggered a “first ever” petition drive under the Clark County Charter, as citizen Rob Anderson successfully led an effort to create a mini initiative. The mini initiative petition will cause the Clark County Council to address the issue of vaccine mandates in the county.
“We call on the Clark County Council to ban all mandates within Clark County that discriminate against citizens regarding their health status and or that violate existing rights to health information privacy,” Anderson said at a citizen rally. A few minutes later, Anderson and Vancouver attorney Angus Lee presented 11,505 signed petitions to Cathie Garber, Clark County Elections supervisor.
An August outbreak of COVID-19 at a senior living facility was brought to light by a citizen’s public records request. The residents and staff were overwhelmingly vaccinated (87-90 percent), and yet 14 of the 78 residents died with COVID-19.
The initial report indicated 58 of the 67 cases cited in the outbreak were “breakthrough” cases involving residents and staff members who were already vaccinated. That was later revised to be 53 confirmed cases and five probable cases.
The outbreak was not reported to the Clark County Board of Health (BOH), which caused a great deal of discussion and consternation among the county councilors who make up the BOH.
Many area employees lost jobs as a result of vaccine mandates. Key were healthcare workers who protested requirements by Gov. Jay Inslee and their private employers to get vaccinated. Several public protests occurred as healthcare workers pointed out they had been “heroes” in 2020 but somehow a significant risk to their patients in 2021.
As the largest employer in Southwest Washington, an estimated 700 to 900 PeaceHealth employees were impacted by the initial Sep. 1 mandate.
“They have made no attempts at reasonable accommodations for exempted employees, including staff that tried the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and suffered an anaphylactic reaction,” stated Melissa Kolb, a PeaceHealth employee of 29 years. “Housekeeping, supplies, and caregivers are at an all-time low and PeaceHealth is willingly putting the community at risk because of their hard position on this mandate.”
Legacy placed 794 employees who chose not to comply with the vaccine policy on unpaid administrative leave on Oct. 1. Those who started a vaccine series by Oct. 18 were allowed to return to work as soon as they were fully vaccinated.
When the state deadlines arrived on Oct. 18, Legacy had 491 active employees who chose not to comply with our vaccine requirement policy and an additional 80 employees were in the process of completing a vaccination series and remaining on leave.
A charge nurse at PeaceHealth St. John’s Medical Center in Longview revealed at a Cowlitz County Commissioner meeting that 33 percent of hospitalizations on the COVID floor at the hospital were fully vaccinated individuals. She said that hospitalized patients ebb and flow and there were times where 100 percent of the patients on the floor were vaccinated individuals.
She lives in Woodland and has recovered from COVID. Her husband who is older and has comorbidities, did not get it. She now has natural immunity. Her perspective is that the vaccine does not work. “We are having many breakthrough cases. The vaccine is not working the way it was designed to work.” She lost her job because of her concerns over the vaccine and declining the vaccination.
Dr. Pierre Kory explains the variety of repurposed medications that appear to help fight COVID-19 sickness. He works with the Frontline Covid Critical Care Alliance.
2021 review of the virus and vaccinations
During last year, we learned a great deal about the newly developed mRNA vaccines to fight COVID-19. Normally a new vaccine takes 10-15 years in development; but these were developed in under a year in 2020.
In April, Camas resident Brad Jensen, MD, shared his experience as a pathologist with expertise in molecular diagnostics. During his pathology career, his area of specialty was microbiology. Jensen has served close to 30 years advising the state of Washington on laboratory issues. He is also a former lab medical director at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and is board certified in Pathology and Internal Medicine.
“The COVID-19 vaccines were developed in less than a year,’’ Jensen said. “This is because all the US vaccines use new technologies that allow rapid development and production of vaccines. All you need is the RNA sequence of the virus. This allowed the studies to be started early in the pandemic.”
In the spring, the FDA “paused” and then reapproved the use of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) single shot vaccine as concerns over blood clots were raised. In April Gov. Jay Inslee gave authorization for citizens in the state to resume getting the J&J shot.
By the end of the year, the virus had mutated and all three approved shots delivered waning immune protection. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine delivered less long-term protection from hospitalization after four months, we learned in September. The FDA had recommended “booster” injections in the fall using any of the three products, but eliminated the J&J shot recommendation by the end of the year. However, the J&J shot remains an approved FDA treatment.
Dr. Raul Garcia, an emergency room physician from Yakima, reminded people the booster shots are not a software update. What’s being offered is another injection of treatment designed for the original version of COVID. Reports from Israel, the U.K., and even Pfizer indicate both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca vaccines have reduced, and in some cases no effect on stopping Omicron.
The three FDA-approved vaccines in the US were authorized using “Emergency Use Authority” (EUA) which has special rules and requirements.
The FDA allows for EUA “to facilitate the availability and use of medical countermeasures, including vaccines, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Under an EUA, FDA may allow the use of unapproved medical products, or unapproved uses of approved medical products in an emergency to diagnose, treat, or prevent serious or life-threatening diseases or conditions when certain statutory criteria have been met, including that there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.”
As the year moved forward, people learned more about EUA and began questioning whether or not the FDA followed their own rules in granting approval for the three novel injections to be used in the battle against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
In August, radio talk show host Lars Larson took a call from a Clackamas, Oregon woman. She spoke about one of the conditions needed for the FDA to issue an EUA.
“This is (from) the FDA website,” she said. “You cannot get an emergency use authorization for a vaccine if there are any viable treatments. So they don’t want them; they meaning the government, big pharma, all of them. They don’t want there to be treatments because they can’t get that EUA. They’re keeping a lid on it. I’ve heard the same about hydroxychloroquine.”
“I’ve never heard that before, that an EUA can’t be granted if there are viable treatments for the thing you want the EUA to treat or to address,” Larson responded. “This part of the FDA code that you mentioned, but that’s stunning. If the FDA code says the only way you can grant an EUA is if there’s no viable treatments.”
Citizens wondered if the FDA was following their own rules for granting EUA authority. During a hearing that lasted over eight hours, multiple healthcare professionals lamented the lack of data to indicate the EUA approved vaccines were safe.
“What we’ve done is we’ve effectively suspended a lot of the rules of evidence for things like vaccines that were brought to market under emergency use authorizations, and then we’re setting a stupidly high standard for things that are very safe and appear to work,” said Bret Weinstein, in an interview with Joe Rogan. He is an evolutionary biologist and a visiting fellow at Princeton.
Early in the pandemic, the concept of herd immunity was discussed. Once enough people had recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 sickness, their immune system would protect them from getting sick a second time. Health experts expected a combination of vaccination and people with “natural immunity” would bring the pandemic to an end. That didn’t happen. You don’t hear about natural immunity or herd immunity any more from government health authorities.
Several local healthcare providers shared information on how to boost your natural immune system. They spoke about the power of vitamin D and vitamin C and zinc. “Zinc is incredibly helpful for any type of viral illness,” said Ana Jackson of Amboy. “It’s helpful because it actually inhibits viral replication.” She suggested you take quercetin as a supplement with the zinc. It helps to get more zinc into your cells. “You want to take those two things together,” she said.
In the fall, the CDC changed the definition of vaccine, with little fanfare or notice. A vaccine no longer had to provide immunity from a disease, but instead merely had to offer protection.
The discovery was publicized by Rep. Thomas Massie (Republican, Kentucky) two months ago, who tweeted the definitions. “Check out @CDCgov’s evolving definition of “vaccination.” They’ve been busy at the Ministry of Truth.”
Instead of requiring medicine to meet the definition of “vaccine,” it appears CDC has changed the definition of “vaccine” to accommodate what the medicine does. That happened as headlines reported “waning immunity” for the three approved shots.
The year began with allocations of the new vaccines being given for “the most vulnerable,” healthcare workers, and first responders. Concerns over shortages were the norm as many people wondered when they would be able to get their protection from COVID-19.
By early fall, various levels of government were issuing mandates. Workers had to get vaccinated or risk termination. Protests were immediate, as healthcare workers were joined by many citizens defending “my body, my choice” when it came to these experimental injections. People fought for exemptions for health or religious reasons. Many healthcare workers quit rather than being forced to “take the jab.”
While encouraging citizens to get vaccinated, numerous leaders and public figures are using fear and hyperbole as part of their messaging. “Thirty-four percent of Washingtonians are walking around with a time bomb in their backpack because they’re not vaccinated,” Gov. Jay Inslee said at a recent press conference.
“You’re either going to have had COVID, you’re going to have a vaccination, or you’re going to be dead,” said the governor.
Stories continued emerging about “adverse events,” as people learned about the government’s VAERS system for reporting adverse impacts from receiving a vaccination. Those began with reports of myocarditis and pericarditis, particularly in young teenage males.
Here in Washington, we learned about Jessica Berg who died after being vaccinated. That was followed by news that a 17-year-old Washington female died following her vaccination. Three people have allegedly died in the state due to complications from the vaccines.
The risks for young people came more into focus as myocarditis and other heart-related injuries were brought to light, including these two stories of a 27-year old Port Townsend woman.
Congress had passed trillions of dollars in funding to fight the pandemic. Among the numerous provisions of one law was immunity from legal prosecution for the 3 FDA approved vaccine makers. That raised the question, who can be held accountable for the deaths, injuries, and significant adverse events being reported?
“If the scientists were genuinely interested in keeping each of us safe from COVID, wouldn’t they be most interested in each of our antibody levels,” asked Heidi Wetzler in a year end column. “Isn’t it perplexing how they say it is impossible to create an accurate antibody test? Why after two years are they pushing a one-size-fits-all vaccine with no accompanying measure of the real ticket to herd immunity — antibodies?”
She attributes our fear over the COVID-19 coronavirus to Mass Formation Psychosis.