Well, the British government have opted for locking the UK down and as a direct effect from that decision, our clinic and teaching centre are unable to operate in a physical presence.
The IHM operate will operate 2 courses. One for people with no knowledge of homoeopathy, and one for practitioners wanting in-depth training in Hahnemanns methodology utilising Boenninghausens repertory (therapeutic pocket book). This training will lead to admission onto the IHM Register.
The I.H.M. have invested in a mobile clinic and teaching centre. We are working on it to bring it up to a high standard but will have to operate online for the near future.We just completed some wallpapering and putting in new furniture.
The IHM staff are putting together this advanced course, so we can teach at a distance, based mainly on home study and virtual conferencing. It is logistically impossible to have all the students in one group to meet together if in different parts of the world, so will be more of an individual chat with one or two at a time.
I dont like teaching Hahnemann long distance. We have always taught this course in a 4 or 5-day personal setting so I can see participant reaction and rectify misconceptions as they arise with examples and references. However, for the time being, those days have gone.
We will put the course into modules and begin as soon as we have completed renovations here, a few more cupboards to build, packing boxes to be delivered and the studio to be set up.
It is obvious that this person do not understand thoroughly the process of disease and health and that he has got pure mechanistic approach in the understanding of the human organism and his immune system which exists in modern scientific medicine.
Vaccination is a trigger factor that activates and force the organism to do something in a not natural way with consequences.
The way in which vaccination acts is the suppression of inflammation consequently having as a result more serious and deeper disturbances of the organism and that is the reason why person is protected of epidemic respiratory diseases.
Inflammation is “pushed” inside. A person is sick chronically. And this is characteristic of the health condition of modern society last few generations, explosion of chronic disease.
Herd immunity is on the play not because that people are healthier, but on the contrary, they are sicker, this is the reason of herd immunity, not because there are no more viruses around us, because viruses are in the air and they are most numerable organisms in our environment, but because we are not susceptible to catch them.
Dear Mr. Herscu, unfortunately, you do not understand the process of disease in which any organism who is in any chronic condition is not able to develop high fever which is the sign of healthy immune system unless he is in the last state of chronic condition very close to death.
I can clearly see that you are not in order when you said that you will take the vaccine in order to continue your job and to avoid a lawsuit. This is not moral and it is disgrace for classical Hanemanian homoeopathy.
I have highlighted in BOLD ITALIC where deviancy from homoeopathy occurs.
Early medical career
Edward Bach studied medicine first in Birmingham and later at the University College Hospital, London, where he was House Surgeon. He also worked in private practice, having a set of consulting rooms in Harley Street. As a bacteriologist and pathologist he undertook original research into vaccines in his own research laboratory.
Dr. Edward Bach qualified as a doctor in 1912. He stated as he received his diplomas, “it will take me five years to forget all I have been taught.”
In 1917 Dr. Bach was working on the wards tending to soldiers returned injured from France. One day he collapsed and was rushed into an operating theatre suffering from a severe haemorrhage. His colleagues operated to remove a tumour, but the prognosis was poor. When he came round they told Bach that he had only three months left to live.
As soon as he could get out of bed, Bach returned to his laboratory. He intended to advance his work as far as he could in the short time that remained. But as the weeks went by he began to get stronger. The three months came and went and found him in better health than ever. He was convinced that his sense of purpose was what saved him: he still had work to do.
His research into vaccines was going well, but despite this Dr Bach felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases and ignore the whole person. He aspired to a more holistic approach to medicine. Perhaps this explains why, not being a homoeopath, he took a post at the Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital.
Once there he soon noticed the parallels between his work on vaccines and the principles of homoeopathy. He adapted his vaccines to produce a series of seven homoeopathic nosodes. This work and its subsequent publication brought him some fame in homoeopathic circles. People began to refer to him as ‘the second Hahnemann’.
The flower remedies
Up to now Bach had been working with bacteria, but he wanted to find remedies that would be purer and less reliant on the products of disease. He began collecting plants and in particular flowers – the most highly-developed part of a plant – in the hope of replacing the nosodes with a series of gentler remedies.
By 1930 he was so enthused by the direction his work was taking that Dr. Bach gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London. Dr. Bach became determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine that he was sure could be found in nature. He took with him as his assistant a radiographer called Nora Weeks.
Just as he had abandoned his home, office and work, Dr. Bach began to abandon the scientific method and its reliance on laboratories and reductionism. He instead used his natural gifts as a healer, allowing his intuition to guide him to the right plants.
Over years of trial and error, which involved preparing and testing thousands of plants, he found one by one the remedies he wanted. Each was aimed at a particular mental state or emotion. He found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated naturally as the healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more.
His life followed a seasonal pattern from 1930 to 1934. The spring and summer spent looking for and preparing the remedies; the winter giving help and advice to all who came looking for them. Most winters were spent in the coastal town of Cromer. Here he met and became friends with a local builder and healer, Victor Bullen.
By the time Dr. Bach and his assistant Nora Weeks came to live at Mount Vernon, Dr. Bach had discovered 19 of the remedies, and it was in the surrounding lanes and field that he found the remaining 19 remedies to complete the series. By now his body and mind were so in tune with his work that he would suffer a variety of emotional states until he found the plant that would help him. In this way, through great personal suffering and sacrifice, he completed his life’s work.
A year after announcing that his search for remedies was complete, Dr. Bach passed away peacefully on the evening of November 27th, 1936. He left behind him several lifetime’s experience and effort, and a system of medicine that is used all over the world.
Bach had enjoyed many years of successful research in London. His work brought him fame and a high professional standing among both orthodox and homoeopathic doctors. Now he had founded an entirely new approach to healing that concentrated exclusively on the emotional and spiritual health of people rather than their physical symptoms.
We might expect that on his death he would leave behind shelves full of notes and published writings. But here too he was determined to leave things as clear and uncluttered as possible. Throughout the process of finding new remedies, he stripped out from his practice unnecessary ideas and theories. The laboratory and orthodox research were the first things to go, but more followed.
He discontinued the use of succussion, investigated and discounted links between his remedy types and astrology, gave up diagnosis by physical symptom, and abandoned as unnecessary the idea of different remedies working on ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ planes.
Towards the end, he built a bonfire in the garden at Mount Vernon where he burnt many of his early notes, determined that they would not survive to lead people astray in the future. All that needed to be said was said in the 32 pages of The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies.
In his mind, the discarded work, like the abandoned theories, was merely scaffolding – useful while the walls went up and the roof put on, but cumbrous and unnecessary once the house was finished.
In 1936 a few people began promoting the idea of combining the 38 remedies into one elixir, seeking to solve everyone’s problems with a single mix – an idea that Dr Bach had already tried and abandoned.
“I think now you have seen every phase of the work,” he wrote to his friend Victor Bullen in October of that year, a month before his death. “It is proof of the value of our work when material agencies arise to distort it, because the distortion is a far greater weapon than attempted destruction.”
In the same letter he sets out the path that his successors should follow:
“Our work is steadfastly to adhere to the simplicity and purity of this method of healing; and when the next edition of The Twelve Healers becomes necessary we must have a longer introduction, firmly upholding the harmlessness, the simplicity, and the miraculous healing powers of the remedies.”
1/. Dr Bach was never a homoeopath.
2/. He never followed the principles of Hahnemann in any way. His work was vaccine based and he developed a few of the Bowel Nosodes.
3/. His was a spiritualist and chose flowers through dreams and from his psychic leanings.
4/. The flower essences were never tested.
5/. The flower remedies were never succussed or prepared according to Hahnemannian directions.
6/. Accordingly, the flower remedies were not given on a totality of the patients illness, just the personality and anxieties, physical problems were not taken into account.
7/. Originally the flower remedies were combined with astrology.
We at the I.H,M cannot endorse or recommend the use of flower remedies in any way. We would go so far as to say the use of the flower remedies can negate or interfere with a homoeopathic prescription. There is no compatibility between the practices.
Homoeopathic treatment relies on tested and proven and reproducible effects from the medicines, wheras the flower remedies have been made from intuition and non scientific protocols.
2019 Novel Coronavirus (CoVID-19): Part XVIII
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV (first named); COVID-2019 (later named disease); SARS-CoV-2 (final name of the virus causing COVID-2019), COVID-2019 Pandemic:
January 2, 2021 update Part 18 (Vaccines – Part #2)
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
A Broader Conversation About Vaccines
This Covid Update #18 is a companion piece to #17, and forthcoming updates #19, #20, and #21. The topic of vaccination is a difficult one, with a great deal of information and misinformation circulating. There is tremendous emotion, anxiety, fear and anger surrounding the topic of vaccines. The opinions here, are for your consideration. Make up your personal choice in consultation with your health care provider. But to help inform your choice, it is useful to have information. In this post, I briefly touch on some of the science for those interested in understanding vaccines in a broader context, and in learning about the different vaccine forms and how they relate to COVID-1 vaccines.
In the next update, I focus on the role organizational and educational institutions have in changing the course of this pandemic. What is the big ask we want from those in the position to effect change and how to shift the discussion and the focus of our efforts so they lead to better outcomes.
Update #20 will discuss the framework to understand vaccine reactions.
Lastly, I will take up the important topic of what you and your loved ones and your patients/clients might do to potentially prevent or mitigate side-effects from the vaccine if taken. I have broken this large topic up, as there is a lot to share from several angles!
This piece is about vaccines and how to think/talk about the topic in general, from the conceptual model, away from the operational specifics.
I am writing to those that actually believe we are in trouble here. (I had an interesting moment where Amy and I were presenting a talk for a professional organization last month and a physician there said something like, is this whole thing real? I have not seen anyone with this disease yet. I said, yes, very real. What I did not say was that right before our presentation, I had a patient who was waiting for a room in the hospital because the whole hospital was full, the ICU was full, the ED was full, and the hospital was setting up makeshift oxygen tents in peoples’ cars, just to keep them alive until someone either got better or died and there was room in the hospital.) So, I am writing for you. Dealing with the reality and tragedy upon us.
At this point, for many, the discussion hovers at the for or against vaccinations point. Vaccinations are good or vaccinations are bad. My goal is to permanently change this discourse so that it fits a bit closer to reality and offers you, your family, and your patients a clearer way to think about vaccines. This discussion is the same one I have given in 1990, in 2000, in 2010, and now here, again in 2020. I hope, at some point this discussion can become more mainstream to move the actual conversation to where it belongs, mirroring reality, predicting outcomes, lessening harm.
Let’s get started.
The first thing we have to bring up is that most people are arguing an issue using 1970s language and the reality of that time. Let’s take this and see how quickly we can pull it forward to 2020/2021. Broadly and basically the concept of vaccination is introducing something into the body, let’s say for example, an antigen, to produce an immune response, for instance, an antibody. It is much broader than that, but let’s just keep it at that conceptual level. I will keep this brief, having followed the evolution of vaccinations for my entire professional career in one form or another, starting with the reading of Lady Montague’s accounts and then Edward Jenner’s account all the way through today.
I would like to branch this out into two types of vaccines. At this time, there are vaccinations used for prevention, but there are also vaccinations used for treatment, a topic not often mentioned. The old fight was about immunizing via vaccine, which focuses on prevention. Let’s put that aside for now. But please realize we are in 2020. The concept has broadened into vaccines, of other sorts, including those used as part of a treatment.
The most compelling one here, from the orthodox medical model, are the immunotherapies that are used for cancer treatment. Many of them utilize the concept that you either inject an antigen, inject a protein, or inject another substance into the person in order to produce an immune response. The old one of these that led to TNF drugs, etc., some of you may recall, Coley’s toxins, is something we have taught about for over three decades.
Some new approaches move beyond that by removing some of the immune cells, and by attaching chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) to T cells from the patient, and then are put back into the patient’s body. Those cells find the cancer cells and destroy them. Broadly, these are the CAR-T or TCR therapies, or even the TIL cytokine additions.
Again, please don’t write me about how you or your family used this approach and it cured or it was horrible or did nothing. I am just offering an example of another type of ‘vaccine’ used for treatment rather than prevention, to catch us all up to an expanded view of the topic.
Here’s the takeaway: cancer therapy used to be limited to surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and now the thinking is more about stimulating the body’s own immune system to address cancer cells. Focus here on the conceptual model, that putting something into the body so that the body will react in such a way as to create a specific or general immune response to treat a particular disease. We might call these by any name you prefer, but you can see the basic concept of vaccination at play.
Relatedly, in the integrative medicine world, ‘vaccines’ have moved on to treatment as well. There are any number of integrative doctors injecting peptides, protein pieces, and other materials into people to elicit a specific immune response, for a variety of diseases. When the political environment is welcoming, they call this a vaccine of sorts and when it is a less popular word, they call it a peptide antigen to elicit an immune response.
There are also those working with upregulating an immune response by use of traditional vaccines. For example, there are many integrative doctors that will inject a typical vaccine, such as yellow fever vaccine, into a person with a disease, say cancer, using the adjuvants in the vaccine to upregulate the immune system to recognize and address cancer cells.
There are many, many other examples, but as you can read, the topic of vaccinations is actually a large one, much larger than is often appreciated in the current debate. What to me sounds sort of funny, or sad, is when an integrative doctor that gives a vaccine to treat cancer say he is against vaccines for prevention of a potentially life-threatening disease. It is not logical! Some have a knee-jerk response to words or labels, even when the words represent similar things.
I remember some years ago I was working on a vaccine position paper and there was a great amount of in-fighting in the group. It sounded to me like it all started in the middle of the argument as if it was picked up from 50 years ago. I tried to make the point that even the folks that were ‘pro’ vaccines, that their practices which were against these newer cancer treatments, were not in keeping with their stated position on vaccine when it came to prevention, and some of those that were ‘anti’ vaccine for prevention were pretty happy with the newer cancer treatments. This discordance within a world view, simply due to the term used for the intervention, struck me as odd. After they listened politely, the argument returned. Which was sad to me. And an opportunity for further understanding lost.
REGARDING VACCINES FOR COVID-19, in December, 2020/Early January, 2021
Let me jump into the types of vaccines in general and then in COVID-19.
Different types of vaccines for prevention.
Nucleic acid, RNA/DNA vaccine. The new technology is designed to be developed in a quick and inexpensive way, and since they are new, no one is completely sure of the full short term or long terms effects. It takes a couple of months to get to clinical trials, and 6 months to get to Phase III trials. The mRNA has you making the antigenic protein within your cell. Your immune system reacts to the protein that your cell made from the mRNA message. At this time, there are about 20 of these in testing phases for COVID-19, from different companies. There are two major forms here, which I describe below. This form is potentially going to become a very dominant form of vaccine into the future for many diseases.
2a. Whole virus LIVE vaccine. Here you take the actual virus, keeping it alive but weakening its pathogenicity, in other words, creating a less pathological form. It keeps on replicating itself for a while which means it lasts longer than a killed form. MMR is like this one. There are a half dozen or so of these being developed for COVID-19. One big problem, theoretically, is that species often want to revert to their more natural form. Follow me here for a bit, from an evolutionary biological point of view, it is important. If you take a highly bred dog and let it run wild, it moves toward, in subsequent generations, a more feral ‘wolf-like’ appearance. Species do this, moving closer to the wild type variant since that is what nature created, as best adapted to the environment. Well, with live form vaccinations, there is the possibility that the virus might revert back to its stronger pathogenic state. This happens, in fact, and no one debates that this happens. So instead of arguing whether vaccines are ‘good’ or ‘bad’, I think it is more useful to talk about how to make this form safer.
2b. Whole virus, but DEAD/INACTIVE vaccine form. Here you take the virus but kill it, instead of weakening it, in order to create an immune response. Some vaccine makers add adjuvants to upregulate the immune response. While it is true that you cannot become sick with that specific illness from this form of vaccine, as it is dead, other reactions may occur. There are a half dozen or so of this type being tested for COVID-19.
Viral vector form of vaccines. There are around 20 COVID-19 vaccines of this form in experimental phases. This is a sort on interesting one. Here you use a common, simple, safer virus, like the one producing the common cold,as a delivery agent but you add a gene into the virus, and the virus does its usual thing, and it causes you to make a protein in question, for example, a spike protein. The virus keeps going for as long as typical, or you could introduce something else that stops its actions (I do not believe they are doing this yet, but this is clearly a pathway for cancer research, introducing a vector and then with it a ‘suicide’ gene to stop the process, so that it does not keep going, or stops the target in question. I know it sounds like science fiction, but I imagine this will be pretty common within 15 years or so.)
The main problem with this form is that we are dealing with three living agents, the bug you are trying to protect against, the bug that is the carrier, and you. The bug that is the carrier ideally is a simple one that we typically see and have no problem with. But if we typically see it, then we may well have antibodies to it already. And if we have antibodies to it, then when you undergo this vaccine form, it might be that your own immune system inactivates the carrier virus before it has a chance to deliver the gene of interest. There are all sorts of go-arounds here, but I thought I would highlight this.
Protein subunits vaccines are made from the surface of the pathogenic bug in question, like the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2, which you can upregulate by adding adjuvants. Here we have about 30 COVID-19 contenders in experimental phases. Again, you will not get the disease from this, even though it is up to your immune system to react to this protein or protein/adjuvant.
With COVID-19, we have the RNA/DNA option for now, as described above, and specifically the mRNA form delivering different parts of the SARS-CoV-2 antigen. The mRNA is not very stable, so you have to keep it at very low temperatures. Also, you have to somehow ‘wrap’ it up in a fatty coat, if you will. (Here there are issues, as for example the poly ethylene glycol that is included, which some people have a severe anaphylactic allergy to, which is known and clearly articulated.)
At this moment, in early January, 2021, the mode of administration is by injection, though my informed prediction is that in 6 months, an inhaled version will be added as a delivery system. As described above, the RNA causes your cell to produce this antigen, for now the one chosen is the spike protein, and then this is moved to the cell surface, at which point your immune system perceives the protein and starts producing antibodies to it.
The hope is, and what was borne out in clinical trials, is that the antibodies keep you from getting severe illness if you contract SARS-CoV-2, preventing patients from experiencing precipitous decline and leading to time in the ICU or worse. In a sense, your immune system has been primed to address the virus. Put another way, when you get sick, it takes time for your immune system to recognize that there is a problem, to identify the problem, and to then react appropriately to the problem. That valuable time allows the virus to replicate taking over more and more cells. If you could have get a head start so your body more quickly identifies a problem and reacts to it, then there is less virus to have to deal with in the body. That is how it is supposed to work.
Please note that I personally believe what is currently in these vaccines, is as stated by the manufacturers. In other words, I do not believe that they have added substances to control you, to track you, to kill you, to make you infertile, to control your thoughts, to add a kill switch to your life. I know you might think that these are preposterous things for me to mention, but I have had people from the left and the right, conservatives and liberals both, tell me all of the above and more. I will not further describe or discuss any conspiracy theory, since they are both unproductive and unending. What can I say? There is a lot of confusing information out there.
Really, for me, this is an example of worrying about the wrong thing. There are things to absolutely be concerned about with vaccines, but worrying about something completely unrelated takes and keeps your focus off the main issues such as described below. My personal suggestion to anyone worrying about what is in a vaccine, take a sample and see what is in it. The chemistry is not that difficult to investigate, and really should not cost that much to do. Form a group, test the chemistry in the vaccine, describe what you find and move on.
Concerns with the mRNA
Moving on here. There are two potential forms here when speaking about mRNA; a non-replicating form of mRNA vaccine and the self-replicating form of mRNA.
The non-replicating form is what we now have as the approved vaccine. It is the kind you inject into the body, the body takes up the mRNA, it goes into the cell, causes the cells own production line to make the protein in question. And then eventually the job of these mRNA is done, they get used up, destroyed. To keep this from occurring too quickly or having too many unintended consequences, they sort of chemically ‘freeze’ the shape of the mRNA, and then coat the whole thing in a lipid substance, as mentioned above. It is kept from denaturing by storing at low temperatures. The Moderna and Pfizer version of the vaccine use similar mRNA code for the whole spike protein and similar lipid coat technology. I imagine in the future this whole form will be modified to make the vaccine more shelf stable. They may also modify the target, as for example, target for a part of the spike protein instead of the whole, or target for the spike protein plus another part for better specificity, but that is a future engineering challenge and keeps the same overall concept of this type of vaccine. More on this below.
The self-replicating type is an up and coming vaccine not approved yet. It would be the next version of these mRNA vaccines, where you create the system by which the mRNA keeps replicating itself inside the person, and therefore can last for an indefinite amount of time, continually producing more and more protein, before it is processed itself and ceases to be active.
I have grave concerns here. At this time, late December 2020/early January 2021, I really do worry about this. We have not seen what mRNA vaccines looks like in the real world. I mean what really happens over a large population, in different subgroups, over a span of months? But at least it is over sooner rather than later with the injection, in this first phase of vaccines. However, the self-replicating form would keep going for a while in the body, and that seems unnecessarily dangerous at this time. Put another way, if there is a problem with this whole mRNA concept then let’s have at first the type that starts the immune response, ends its work and the immune system is prepared.
Having the mRNA go on and on indefinitely, as in the self-replicating types, seems like an unnecessary risk. At least for the first few years, until we have more answers from the epidemiology associated with this vaccine type. If I could make a VERY STRONG recommendation, it would be for the different medical societies to put the brakes on this form until we know more about the short-acting form. As an integrative medical society, this seems reasonable, and logical, and not at all alarmist, but uses the precautionary principle. This is something that can be written and acted upon today, not once they are developed and distributed.
Clearly, these current vaccines have known side-effects, which FDA lists, and the vaccine makers provides. No one is saying that these are simply safe and carry no risk. No one has or will say anything close to that in the near future. The makers of these and the government both acknowledge known risks. And there are the unknown risks as well. But this is what I was underscoring in my previous update. The math is the math. At the start, there are multiple pathways open to halting an epidemic. But if you close off, prevent, underfund, or dismiss such other pathways, you are left with this one, with its potential risks and impacts. Sad but true.
There are specific populations that I worry about that have not been discussed elsewhere to date. Aside from those whose age, or who have specific ailments that put them at risk for certain problem from the vaccine, and those that may have the allergic reaction to the poly ethylene glycol, I worry about the upcoming vaccines and the adjuvants that may upregulate the immune system in unspecific manners.
There are numerous populations that this vaccine is complex, for me, as there is not enough information yet. For example, anyone with added hardware, medical devices and implants of various sorts. A vaccine is as good or as bad as how specific it is in its short term and long term effects. The more ‘off target’ it goes, the more problems it might cause. While this is not in the current plan, I STRONGLY URGE OUR INTEGRATIVE MEDICAL ASSOCIATIONS to emphatically urge the FDA in their post-approval tracking to add, NOW, at the beginning, specific tracking of side-effects of the vaccine on those with added internal/medical devices etc. These should be tracked carefully, as a potential subpopulation data points to be gathered. Even simpler procedures like cataract surgeries where new lenses are implanted, we should watch these people carefully.
As importantly, AND SOMETHING ELSE THAT OUR MEDICAL SOCIETIES SHOULD urge is special protocols towards vaccinations, which may include stopping or creating a time gap between particular procedures or treatments and the vaccine. I am trying to address the real world that we find ourselves in, and to diminish the risk of additional problems for ourselves, our families, our patients, and our neighbors. And if FDA will not pick up on this call, one very useful addition to our knowledge here is to have the integrative medical societies create a tracking system, and publish what we find. Simply put, from our point of view, we are not all the same, and do not respond the same to any exposure, including vaccines. Having people that specialize on personalizing medicine keep track and articulate latent subclasses is a huge benefit to society in general and to integrative healthcare in particular.
Hang in there. We are halfway through the topic. In the next update, we discuss what Integrative physicians and Naturopathic physicians can do, in particular, to help the current situation.
Paul Herscu, ND, MPH
A Broader Conversation About Vaccines – Part #3
2019 Novel Coronavirus (CoVID-19): Part XIX
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV (first named); COVID-2019 (later named disease); SARS-CoV-2 (final name of the virus causing COVID-2019), COVID-2019 Pandemic:
January 7, 2021 update Part 19 (Vaccines – Part #3)
Paul Herscu ND, MPH
Hello and good day to you and yours.
This COVID-19 Update #19 is the companion piece to COVID-19 updates #17 & #18, and forthcoming updates #20 and #21 all of which focus on vaccines. I focus here on the role organizational and educational institutions have to change the course of this pandemic as related to vaccines.
The next update will focus on vaccine reactions. Lastly, I will write about what you, your loved ones and patients/clients can do to help prevent side effects from the vaccine if taken and to mitigate side effects that may arise.
POTENTIAL FAILURE and CONTINUED NEED FOR A PLAN B
We know that the conventional medicine community has more money than integrative or naturopathic doctor communities do, and therefore more influence. Which means, if looking at only that medical model, there will be more and more vaccines for both prevention and treatment. The vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 are only the most current ones we are hearing, reading and thinking about. And because of all the controversy, anxiety, depression, and just bad time we have all had, this vaccine has garnered more controversy than others.
I have spent the last year describing workable simple options, numerous options really, and also the direction we were going, and that, if unchanged, we would end up with this this vaccine option as Plan A and only Plan A. I will not repeat myself here. The last two updates, this one, and the next two focus on the vaccine issue itself. We are stuck in the pro/con vaccine false dichotomy which has become even more entrenched. A very complex discussion is minimized to soundbites which does a great disservice to all. In these treacherous waters, many individuals and organizations decide to sit out the debate, put their heads down and remain ambiguous. I think this, too, misses the opportunity to help science move forward to help more people. This update is aimed at organizations, trying to give more support to positions they might be able to take today, as a way to build a solid middle, a way to break through the rhetoric, to get to a closer approximation of what really happens.
Let me start with an illustration of a problem from the past, to illustrate why vaccine makers and government officials would do well to engage with naturopathic and integrative physicians soon and more closely.
In 1998, FDA approved a Lyme Disease vaccine LYMErix, with protein antigens from Borrelia burgdorferi. The vaccine rollout failed miserably. It was unclear if the vaccine protected you and how long protection would last. Additionally, you would have had to take multiple doses. Some patients felt they became chronically ill post-vaccine. No one wanted to take the vaccine and it was discontinued. A complete rollout failure.
I believe the COVID-19 vaccine rollout may also fail. It has to do with what was tested, as I mentioned in the previous update. Most of us think of vaccines as a one and done effort or a series and then done. For example, when many of us received the polio vaccine, we had one series and were done. What was measured was how likely are were to become sick and/or how likely are we were to pass the bug to someone else. That is NOT what tested in the initial COVID vaccine trials. The main endpoint tested was how many people became SEVERELY SICK with the virus in the vaccinated group versus the placebo group. But they only measured SICKNESS if you were symptomatic. In other words, they did not test everyone to see if they were getting sick, potentially transmitting the virus, but who may have developed only mild symptoms or those who remained asymptomatic entirely.
In other words, it may be, as I wrote the first update, that transmission may be less, or be completely unchanged, or may even be worse. We simply do not know. What they were looking at was a binary question of how many people ended up in the hospital. (Sound familiar? It is odd to me that the only folks that took my study design endpoint of paying attention in a dichotomous fashion to hospital admission need or not, were the vaccine makers and not my brethren. It is that easy. If we did the same thing, natural treatments would have been adopted by the mainstream as quickly! Let’s not waste this opportunity to discuss vaccine issues in their full complexity.) So really, if the only thing that this vaccine does, is keep you out of the ICU that would be great, by itself, but it is extremely likely that other more natural means, with fewer potential side effects are able to achieve this without the vaccine. We don’t know, because research for such approaches has not been properly funded.
The point I am making is, if transmission rates are not substantially diminished, this rollout may go the way of the Lyme vaccine. And remember, at this point, late December/early January we have no other easy viable choice that society or public health institutions appears ready to adopt. If this result is revealed, which may be in the next 2-4 months, the rollout runs into difficulties.
We need a reliable Plan B. Being included in discussions, distributing research funding more equitably, and sharing from our naturopathic and integrative clinical findings and recommendations related to COVID-19.
For the government agencies, for the vaccine makers, the best way to roll out a successful program here is through open dialogue, and in this current environment, I cannot think of a better profession to have this dialogue with, then with licensed naturopathic doctors who have been working at individualizing care and supporting the immune response from the inception of the profession. Let us help, by establishing contact and communication and by working hard to create opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue.
If we can shift the conversation of vaccines to ‘vaccines are a solution in this respect and not a solution in that respect,’ or ‘vaccines are a solution for this person and this same vaccine is not a solution for that person,’ then we come closer to understanding in which circumstances vaccines are an important option, and in which instances they are completely the wrong path. More specifically, as long as the conversation is limited to good versus bad, one side never sees a problem and the other side never sees a solution.
BUILDING A PLAN B FROM WHERE WE ARE NOW
Sadly, at times, the actual problem that needs solved is not clearly articulated. I hope I describe where the problem and potential solutions reside. Professional associations should call for, demand and stand ready to participate in creating a new integrative perspective, a true Plan B.
Here are some of the main steps of such a path:
PERMANENT WORKING SEAT AT THE TABLE
FDA, FTC, and NIH (or professional associations and NHS in all countries) should come together to develop a fuller CORONAVIRUS TREATMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM (CTAP see this link to read further on CTAPs) that properly funds integrative approaches, and that includes ND stakeholders on the relevant committees. For me this is essential, a major pivot point and a very clear ask from the integrative community. It is, actually a game changer.
Recommendations can be based on the best science available, on the prevention and/or treatment of related viruses, and on understanding of immune system function. Naturopathic and integrative physicians should be invited into protocol development, to be studied, published and promoted to include natural products and therapies, that focus on prevention of COVID-19 from gaining access into cells, reducing viral replication, supporting innate immunity, and mitigating the short term and long term impact. Naturopathic and integrative doctors have an enormous role to play at this time and should make their way to the table.
In the clinical world, NDs provide patients with a variety of interventions aiming at different parts of the individual to help the overall state. This is not classical study design where you test only one variable. But it is here, that NDs shine. For example, we already know that modifying chronic health status of blood sugar, weight, and blood pressure impacts COVID-19 disease expression. It is time to advocate for the testing of whole person, multi-factorial protocol rather than only investigating one variable at a time.
Many billions of dollars have gone into and continue to pour into each vaccine development vs. a paltry amount to fund natural medicine testing. Funding is essential to prove how interventions with natural medicine approaches and substances diminish the severity of expression of COVID-19 or can reduce chronic effects of COVID-19 infection. We also need to study how natural and integrative approaches can increase effectiveness/longevity of the vaccines, and diminish side-effects that may arise. As well, funding should also include for the development of new drugs and the repurposing of older drugs, both avenues were severely curtailed when the directive was to pursue vaccines.
PHARMACOVIGILANCE AND PERSONALIZED MEDICINE
Within the vaccine world, away from the rhetoric, there is acknowledgement of potential harm to the recipient exemplified by vaccine makers’ own disclaimers. We need this information shared more widely so everyone understands inherent risks. Include NDs in the creation of vaccine information inserts, as a way to help further articulate potential risk/benefits. We should advocate for more detailed description of what potential harm or potential benefit exists, and for the creation of more refined tracking of actual harm. This cannot be done in the dichotomous ‘vaccines are good/vaccines are bad’ world. But they can be done in a world that establishes a more personalized approach to health care.
We need to allow for modifications of recommendations based on individual, personalized health concerns in order to limit harm, and at the same time increase efficacy of the vaccine. This could be done by, for example, latent class analysis, uncovering subgroups that might not be currently identified, yet nevertheless exist. If we are out front with understanding which groups of people or which kinds of people with which health concerns would be more at risk for poorer outcomes, this could be helpful information to share. NDs specialize in personalized care and could be of immense value here.
Over the years, my practice had many vaccine-injured individuals, according to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. It is hard for me to believe that anyone wants this outcome! A much better outcome is a nuanced, individualized approach that seeks to prevent those more at risk and which develops specific protocols for those people. In other words, discussion how to make it safer and how to identify those more susceptible to potential harm ahead of time, and to prevent problems from arising is a much better discussion than we have right now. Join me in moving this discussion forward.
HOW THE INTEGRATIVE AND NATUROPATHIC PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND SOCIETIES CAN HELP WITH REGARD TO THE VACCINE QUESTION.
Highlight clearly that for the next 6 months at least, even with vaccines, we will continue wearing masks, social distancing and following public health guidelines about businesses opening, with continual but slow easing of lockdowns when and if incidence numbers go down.
Describe how there have been many billions of dollars spent on the creation of this vaccine and very little spent on natural treatment options.
Work to further access funding, create study design and carry out research related to natural medicine approaches to the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19.
Work to broadcast widely results of such studies so that specific approaches become standard of care. This is the important one. There is no mechanism in the USA to allow a natural product to become standard of care, unless FDA/FTC allows this to occur. Integrative organizations could ask for a seat at the table and together formulate minimal natural product recommendations for the prevention and treatment of disease. This would be a new, radical, and important modification in health care in the USA. This is the main focus of change that needs to occur, or else we maintain the status quo.
SPECIFICALLY, with relation to COVID-19 vaccine:
Emphasize that it is not known how long the vaccine effect will last. Hopefully it lasts longer than the disease immunity.
Share that we do not know how people will tolerate a second or third series of vaccination. (Because of this we need a Plan B, as in the other effective natural medicine options to help prevent and mitigate COVID-19.)
Explain that we do not know if the vaccines will continue to be effective, as the virus mutates. (I mention this for completeness sake only). (Because of this we need a Plan B, as in the other effective natural medicine options to help prevent and mitigate COVID-19.)
Explain that at this time, we do not know what the rates of transmission are for the different vaccine forms. But also ask the question, why were these not properly tracked originally.
Request explanation of what the main goal of each of the vaccine forms is. Which ones lessen transmission? Which ones lessens severity?
Help describe the need for and help develop special protocols towards these vaccinations, which may include stopping or creating a time gap between particular medical procedures or treatments, and the vaccine, as for example, dermal fillers, cataract lenses, etc.
Continue to articulate that NDs and integrative physicians should be included in the development of protocols to lessen potential side-effects of the vaccine. h. NDs and integrative physicians should be included in the development of and updating post-approval side-effect surveillance, as they are uniquely trained to uncover latent subpopulations.
Up front and center, should be a close following of vaccine during pregnancy.
I also suggest that there should be a slowing down of the development of self-replicating mRNA vaccines until we see what the effects of the non-replicating mRNA forms is on the population.
I also believe there needs to be a rethinking of the prioritization of who receives vaccinations. No one has said this openly, but broadly speaking, you could say the choice is whether to vaccinate those that will ‘restart’ the economy first, or to vaccinate those most likely to die first. In the USA we chose the open the economy first plan. I think ethically it may be that medical societies might have a problem with this sequence. For example, I think vaccinating those most likely to die might be the most ethical first step as it limits mortality. If this were the case then some of the stage 2 groups might move up to stage 1. There is an ethical imperative that speaks to a better sequence. Regardless of the result of that debate, my point is that integrative physicians should be part of the discussion on the rollout.
We need scientific testing to prove efficacy. We need our medical societies, schools and leadership across all integrative and natural medicine stakeholder groups to take bold steps to investigate and generalize our work, without apology, and in partnership with funding organizations and government agencies. Our work could become standard of care across the full medical landscape. The driver of this in the short term is the need for a PLAN B now and for the longer term as a way to discuss the future of vaccinations in the clear light of day. When is it an appropriate option and when should it be the absolute last option as better ones exist? We lost this first round of opportunities, a year wasted and lives lost. That said, I have faith that our different medical societies and leadership decide to engage in developing and promoting these other pathways now. It is not too late to alter our path forward. This is the perfect time to help lead change in a structural, institutional fashion. We have, I think 6 months or so to do so.
In the next update, I propose a conceptual model of how to talk about vaccine reactions. And in the last update on this topic some things you might want to do in preparation of the vaccine if you choose to take it.
With much hope,
Paul Herscu, ND, MPH
Some useful resources or links referred to in the above:
3.In the last update, I suggested that people with ‘altered’ structures inside their body may need to be tracked separately, just in case they at risk for side effects. Since that time the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery released guidance that looked carefully for side effects in those patients with recent dermal fillers. As an example of what these look like, to emulate, please see: https://www.asds.net/Portals/0/PDF/secure/ASDS-SARS-CoV-2-Vaccine-Guidance.pdf .
There is further information related to special populations to consider, including the pediatric population and pregnant and nursing women, which I think needs a clear understanding of as soon as possible. For those populations, where these are not possible, there should be a PLAN B that does not focus on vaccines, and for which the naturopathic physician and integrative communities can play an essential role.https://www.fda.gov/media/144585/download
2019 Novel Coronavirus (CoVID-19): Part XVII 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV (first named); COVID-2019 (later named disease); SARS-CoV-2 (final name of the virus causing COVID-2019), COVID-2019 Pandemic:
December 29, 2020 update Part 17 Paul Herscu ND, MPH Herscu Laboratory
Get the First Series of Shots!
I receive numerous emails and telephone calls daily, from colleagues, family members, other physicians, policymakers and schools, from across the globe, asking me what my personal position is around the topic of COVID-19 and SARSCoV-2 vaccinations. With this update, I intend to answer these questions in broad and specific ways. I would like to describe the variables to consider, so we all have a fuller, nuanced understanding to contextualize this point of view. At the end, I hope you will see why and how I believe that vaccine in this very instance, at this specific time is important for everyone to have. In the future, I hope we develop better solutions, since this one is imperfect at best, but for the first cycle for the first year, a vaccine is the best way forward. I will keep this short, and mostly touch on a few of the most important variables. Please consider reading this post in its entirety.
Amy says I lost a decade of my life this year. As this virus began early this year, most of you know the tireless work we embarked upon, and then when the virus came into full swing, we wound up working with, well, countless patients with this virus. The work is nonstop. Initially, most of the work was trying to change the course of where we were going. But that was not to be. Here, I want to describe how that intersects with the current question of vaccinating for SARS-CoV-2, why we worked so broadly and tirelessly then to create a different path forward.
Often, people want a quick answer. And when I give them the quick answer, they seem disappointed, or confused, or are left feeling surprised and unsure. One very important group is integrative medicine providers (NDs, DCs, acupuncturists, DOs, and integrative MDs etc.) Many are looking for their role at this time in regard to the topic of vaccination. Please consider this discussion in the most general way. What I mean is that the issues mentioned here are universal to every epidemic/pandemic. Please don’t simply apply this understanding to the current pandemic, but consider these basic tenets that ring true regardless of epidemic or pandemic illness. In other words, learn these issues once, and you will be able to apply this at any other time in the future. This framework is universal with regard to understanding epidemics and pandemics.
That said, the topic of vaccinations in general has been polarized in our society, and in the midst of this pandemic, that polarization is evident and growing. Within this polarized landscape we are finding up to 50% of adults considering not seeking the vaccine, a public health disaster by any definition.
WHO/WHERE/WHEN or PERSON/PLACE/TIME
An essential concept in public health which I have written about before relates to WHO/WHERE/WHEN or PERSON/PLACE/TIME. Simply put, regarding outbreaks/epidemics/pandemics, it matters when, where, and who is falling ill. Or to be more clear, one needs to consider interventions based upon these variables. And what you might decide at one point as a good intervention may not be a good intervention at a later time or with a different person. An epidemic is a constantly changing community event, to which we must adapt. I return to this point below.
Another important topic is the nature of the virus. The point I made in January, 2020, which many also made, is that this is not a virus that would being going away in the next week or month or year. It is going to be with us for a long time. Actually, I still do not think people understand the full import of this comment. This one is not just going away. Which means that we actually do need workable, long-term, broadly accessible, effective solutions. There are several pathways that do exist here, though we have, as a society, chosen only one. More on this below.
An additional variable I wrote about early in the pandemic was the mutation of this virus. I know it is in the news just now, but only half the story is reported, which is causing unnecessary, or rather, premature, additional anxiety. As we highlighted, viruses mutate. This is part of the natural order of all organisms. The main questions around mutation should be:
1. What is the rate of mutations?
2. Where is the location of mutation in the genetic structure of the virus?
3. What is the effect of said mutation(s).
1. Rate of mutations. Different species have different rates of mutation. There is an understanding in evolutionary biology, which goes: If there are too many mutations, the species dies. It’s too unpredictable. If there are not enough mutations, the species dies, as the species is not adapting fast enough to the changing environment. This concept is well paraphrased in Roger Lewin’s book title, Complexity: Life at the Edge of Chaos. What we have seen from the start is that this virus mutates, though in fact, more slowly than other coronaviruses. But a change is not necessarily good or bad. It’s just a change.
2. Location of mutation. This happens to be a very important question. Mutations can impact the behavior of the virus. In means it can make the virus more or less transmittable and/or more or less severe. Will the mutation make it more or less likely for the virus to attach to the cells or more or less likely to enter the cell? Ideally, the mutation makes it less likely to hurt us. For example, a mutation in the spike protein (the part of the virus that attaches to your cells,) would be pretty useful for us as it might make the virus less likely to attach. Unfortunately, from the very start, what we have seen is that the mutations do not seem to occur in the most important part of the virus and so scientists are observing modifications, yes, but none have been important enough ones for us, at least not yet. There is a lot here to discuss but you see the point.
3. Effect of mutation. Which brings us to the most important question when discussing mutations. Has the mutation made the virus more or less transmittable and/or more or less dangerous?
What is in the news just now is that the mutations have made the virus more transmittable. But the real question remains: has its potential for serious illness stayed the same or has it become more or less potentially dangerous?
You may recall that I am a strong proponent of convergent evolution. Simply put, this is a concept that all species constantly adapt, via mutations, towards being less virulent, less severe towards other species. In other words, what stopped the 1918 influenza pandemic was not any sort of treatment or anything that we as a species did. What stopped it was that mutations to the influenza virus which occurred, made it less virulent and less effective at hurting humans.
When you are listening to news related to COVID mutations, recall these questions and stay grounded in the science.
PEOPLE PURPOSELY CAUSING VIRAL MUTATIONS
Here is a related topic I spoke of in more detail in an earlier post, and highlight here once more. We have the technology to modify the virus itself. While we can wait for the virus to hopefully mutate in less dangerous directions, we can also actively produce a mutation that benefits us. I know this may sound awful, but actually it would have been the best way forward. Please hold off passing judgement on this just now. More details below.
ECONOMICS AT POINT
I remember as part of a lecture in February, and again in a Webinar hosted by my professional organization, I made the point that the consequence of what was about to befall us was so enormous, that on the economic side, it will hurt us all. The economic and social impacts, some predictable, others unforeseen, would likely send people who recently moved out of poverty back into poverty, leading to further multigenerational poverty, not just in the United States, but across the developed and developing world economies, too. The main point I made was that the economic burden will not be shared equally. I remember colleagues disagreeing with me on this front. I think the grave reality on the ground, related to how the economic fallout is impacting individuals, families, businesses and communities, is pretty obvious to all of us at this point.
The reason I bring this up is the following. The longer the virus situation continues as it is, the more people will suffer. We will find:
1. More individuals in poverty.
2. More families in poverty.
3. More communities and whole countries in crises.
4. Less services available to those in need.
5. Higher morbidity and mortality from variables not directly related to the virus, but to the fact that the economy is not supporting people in ways that are needed.
6. Women will suffer more than before.
7. Children will suffer more than before.
8. People of color will suffer more than before.
9. Less funding for a slew of programs that benefit many portions of the population.
This is not an exhaustive list, rather illustrates the real health and welfare concerns that have to be considered and accounted for as the pandemic ensues.
In general, vaccines are an intervention to produce an immune response to change the outcome of a future illness—both prevention getting sick or mitigating severity of illness, should it occur. There should be at least four issues that come into play here.
1. How bad is the disease?
2. How bad is the side effect of the vaccine?
3. What is the main purpose of the vaccine?
4. How stable is the modification of the disease?
1. How bad is the disease? Here we know the numbers are bad. Simply put. Described more so elsewhere.
2. How bad is the side effect of the vaccine? We do not know the full answer to this yet, but it seems as though the side effects are less than the disease if you read the studies completed before the vaccine received approval.
3. What is the main purpose of the vaccine? The 2 main reasons for a vaccine are to either make the disease less likely to be transmitted, or to make the disease less severe when/if it occurs. Ideally, both of these occur, but not necessarily. In the current vaccine studies, the main outcomes were to limit the severity of the illness in those vaccinated, which was tested for and proved effective, but what was not tested was transmission. Did those vaccinated not pass the virus as easily? This feature was not tracked as it might have been. As one example, we do not know how many people got the vaccine and caught the virus but were asymptomatic. It is possible that more people got the virus by vaccine but were asymptomatic. We simply do not know yet. but over time we will, by actually tracking this. I await this study. What we seem to know is that less people develop less severe forms of the disease when vaccinated, than those who were not vaccinated. We have to wait until they do the studies on the second question. This should have been part of the study in the first place. I cannot for the life of me understand why this was not done.
4. How stable is the modification of the disease caused by the vaccination? This remains an important question. We do not know the answer to this, since it is a new vaccine. My personal opinion is that natural post infection antibody immunity lasts for 6-12 months. I would very much hope that this is at least as long for the vaccine. It would be a bad sign if it is a shorter period of time and a good thing if it lasts 2-3 years. More on this below.
This is a term I like. Simply put it is a way to say that the past decisions and events matter and percolate down, bringing us to today. The past and present are both present, but not equally distributed. The choices we made or did not make have an impact on today, and on the path we are currently on. One corollary is that because we made certain choices, we are averse to, and resistant to, alternate ways to look at a problem. No one wants to be responsible for a change. Policymakers, scientists, and funders, retreat to a position of caution. I will come back to this concept soon.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER – HOW I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT WE SHOULD TAKE THE VACCINE AT THIS TIME:
1. From what we know, this virus is not going away in the near future.
2. From what we know, this virus morbidity and mortality is staying high; at this time around 1.5%-1.75% mortality, getting closer to the 1% I predicted at the start of it all. I believe it will stay in this range for some time to come. My current projections from last January are staying the same, I believe that if nothing changes, the first full, complete cycle will end with 500,000-2,500,000 dead in the USA. There is no math that shows this to not be the case at this point, unless something changes.
3. The effect of this upon the health care system is leading to failures across the board. Numerous services are failing leading to excess mortality and excess morbidity even unrelated to this virus. Emergency departments, intensive care units, and hospitals in general, are taken up by COVID patients, so that many people are not seeking or are being refused other essential diagnostic or treatment care. There is ample loss and general misery.
4.In terms of the economy, unemployment, etc., we know the facts on the ground are not good and not getting better any time soon.
5. In terms of health access and outcomes, BIPOC, women, and others living at the fringes are having worse outcomes. Problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, anxiety, depression and suicide are all increased as a result of the many ways the pandemic is playing out and researchers believe these realities will likely persist even once the pandemic is passed.
This has to come to a halt as fast as possible. In January, 2020, I described several paths that were open to move forward to limit the harm that was surely on its way. These included:
1. Prevention, emphasizing public health measures, like everyone else. Unfortunately, as a country, we did not adopt the public health measures that were needed in a timely, urgent and unified fashion.
2. Mitigating the effects of the virus, by assisting in producing a normal healthy immune response, via natural medicine therapies. We discussed several options, but FDA/FTC asked many in the integrative doctor sector to stop discussing these, to halt making claims and to discontinue making any such recommendations. Ironically, when more traditional medical institutions and providers began to discuss the same concepts, many months later, there was less pushback, but by then, these recommendations were late. That delay was costly.
3. Developing drugs aimed at normalizing and optimizing immune response.
4.The development and distribution of vaccinations.
There were several others, but the main point I wanted to make was, when we, as a species, are in crisis, we work towards solutions. We excel at this. But, as a society, what was decided in the spring of 2020, is that the path forward was going to be through vaccinations. You can read about this in my writing from that time. Specifically, I said that unless we deviate from this course now, at that time, the path dependency will lead us to vaccinations. As you recall from our intense and urgent communications, I, and many colleagues, were working tirelessly on other potential pathways, but let’s leave that aside.
We as a society, our officials in charge of such decisions, chose the vaccine pathway as our essential and most important way forward. And most of all our eggs went into that basket. I know some, just for the sake of argument might disagree with this, but think about it this way, just as one example. The current vaccines were built upon the final trials of 30,000-40,000 people, after smaller trials, and a couple of billion dollars per vaccine. How much money went to study Vitamin C, Zinc, CoQ10, Resveratrol, homeopathic treatment? Any one of such studies could represent a proof-of-concept to be built upon in larger trials. Most of these treatments are readily available, inexpensive and have extremely low side effect profiles. What was/is missing is robust testing, which needs funding. As a society, we decided to shut these other options down and put the majority of focus and funding into vaccine development. Right or wrong, that decision was made.
The next point flows from this. If you are not going to fund the preventive and treatment side aggressively and properly, especially the inexpensive, natural treatments that have for generations worked on supporting healthy immune function, then you are solely reliant on herd immunity. The number I mentioned this spring is still the same for me; 300 million Americans must be immune to the virus for our society to get back to some semblance of normal. One way or another you need 300 million people, more or less safe. You can have this from vaccinating this number of people, or from having 300 million people catch the virus, or a combination of the two. But one way or another, de facto, this is the direction we decided to pursue as a society. Three hundred million people need to be immune.
Which is where one of my math problems arises. If we have around 30 million folks that had the virus and 250,000 died from it, and we just keep going as we have, the 300 million getting it naturally leads to 2,500,000 dead. We can’t have that. This would be a complete and total societal breakdown. It leaves us with only the vaccine path.
Remember PPT point I made above. We are where we are, at this moment in time. We have, for the most part, underfunded drug treatments, and nearly, completely suppressed the study of potential natural treatments. This is what I mean by path dependency. The society has chosen and we are now, predictably moving down one pathway, which is to get vaccinated.
DO YOU REALLY HAVE A CHOICE?
I would like to make one point incredibly clear. In my humble opinion, in fact, you don’t really have a choice here. I know the nature of the questions I receive is, should I or should I not get vaccinated? And it seems to many as though they have a choice right now. But again, please be aware that as a society this choice was made 9 months ago. It only feels like you have a choice because of vaccine numbers. If we were forced to get a vaccine now, all of us, right now, then we would run into the problem that there are not enough vaccines to go around. But as soon as there are, the lack of choice will become apparent. We will see mass vaccinations. And if we did not reach the high level of immunity, then one by one, the various professions will begin to mandate vaccines. Courts have already determined that business owners have the right to demand workers get vaccinated. And if not, they have the right to keep employees from their jobs.
One profession after the next will roll through the demands, and if not enough health care professionals chose to take the vaccine, then it becomes a prerequisite for work, and then people who live in nursing homes and those working with them, and if still not enough, then factory workers, and if still not enough, those working in education, and then students, and if still not enough, to get on an airplane, and if still not enough, to travel by train and bus. You get the idea. One way or another our leadership and society, in general, chose last spring that we are going to get to herd immunity, and as our main path to it, we will require vaccines. I state this as a fact, not as whether we should or should not, but what reality will look like in early 2021.
In other words, I believe having a discourse on if you should or should not have a vaccine is unproductive, since you don’t really have a choice, in the end. We will see how this turns out, but I am pretty sure this is the reality we live in, and is easier to grasp when you appreciate the path our public health, research and leadership chose.
So, if you ask me if I am getting vaccinated, I say yes, because I want to continue to work with my patients and I believe all health care workers will need to have the vaccine, to achieve herd immunity this way, rather than by waiting until we all fall ill as our way towards herd immunity.
Further, I believe that those professions and those medical societies that at this point in time come out against vaccinations, are reckless, both to their patients but also to themselves. I do not see how a practitioner would be able to survive a lawsuit from someone who becomes ill from SARS-CoV-2 who chose not to vaccinate based on such a recommendation. I am trying to be forthright here. I am fairly certain that your own professional association will not support you in discouraging vaccination.
I am not sure how to say it here, but that ship has already sailed.
WHAT ARE THE ROLES OF INTEGRATIVE DOCTORS WITH REGARD TO VACCINATIONS?
1. As a point of clarity, and unrelated from the other points below, many integrative doctors provide vaccinations in their offices. For example, licensed naturopathic doctors in several states provide vaccinations for their patients, as is true for other licensed providers. And just as NDs have been conducting COVID-19 testing onsite, they might also provide the vaccine. This is just another practitioner offering recommended treatment. And in fact, up until now mostly NDs have been simply describing the potential benefits as per guidelines. Fine, but nothing unique here. What follows goes beyond that, and describes what we might add to the story.
2. Integrative practitioners, for the most part, have worked for decades, and in some instances, for centuries, in helping support healthy immune response and to optimize normal immune function. According to the vaccine makers, there are a variety of immune reactions and side effects, to be expected in 3%-50% of those who receive the vaccine. It may be that integrative practitioners can help the immune system function in healthy and appropriate ways, leading to the desired response to the vaccine, perhaps even extending the benefit of the vaccine. This needs to be tested in earnest.
I am not referring to helping those with anaphylactic reactions caused by the poly-ethylene glycol ingredient in the vaccine, but rather other potential reactions. People with that known allergy are not recommended to take this vaccine. (As a personal not unrelated side note, I nearly died two times from vaccines when immigrating twice in several years, finally to this country, as a child. So, for me to say that I am getting vaccinated, you can see, this is not a simple decision, but one decided upon last summer when I understood the direction things had gone was not changing and appreciating the reality that will emerge on the ground.)
3. There are a few different vaccines on the market just now, all are injectables. I assume that by late spring, early summer 2021, an intranasal, inhaled form will become available. It may be that integrative practitioners can help those who are unable to take the injectable vaccine at this time due to issues with what is used in those vaccines, using additional natural medicine approaches with regard to prevention. This needs to be tested.
4. Assisting those with vaccine hesitancy questions. Many times, those not wanting to vaccinate seek out integrative physicians. These practitioners can help assuage anxiety about the vaccine itself.
5. Side effect profile. I believe integrative physicians can mitigate side effects of the vaccines. We only need funding to test this out. More on this below.
6. Special circumstances. Aside from those that cannot take the current vaccine due to known potential anaphylactic reaction, there may be other groups of individuals who will not tolerate the current vaccines, or are recommended to skip the vaccine because of age or other reasons. It could be that integrative approaches can help with preventive care and with mitigating severity of illness by normalizing proper immune response, for those unable to take the vaccine. This needs proper funding to be tested.
7. Specifically, it may well be that the side-effect profile is as intimately related to the underlying health status of the individual, just as the disease expression of COVID-19 is modified by the underlying health status of those who contract the virus. Many of these health concerns plaguing our modern society are modifiable by integrative practitioners, whether it is diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and other common chronic diseases.
8. It may be that people who do develop bothersome or long lasting side-effects find relief from an integrative practitioner who helps the person develop a healthy, appropriate immune response and helps with underlying health conditions that may have put the person at more risk for worse outcomes in the first place. This also needs testing.
WHAT WE DO NOT KNOW?
Leadership in the country has a great deal of hope with the vaccines, though, in fact most people have not fully thought out what the future might look like if this remains the only intervention. Picture the reality of where we might be headed.
1. By the summer or at latest the fall of 2021, more or less most people will be vaccinated. Which means that there is gradual easing of restrictions, but not a complete easing until next Fall. In other words, even though we are being vaccinated in December or in January, we are still wearing masks, and some businesses are still closed or operating below pre-COVID capacity. Sadly, people are still dying from COVID-19.
2. We don’t really know how long the vaccine will last. Hopefully it lasts longer than the disease immunity, which as mentioned above, I still personally believe to be 6-12 months. But all our eggs are in this basket of vaccinations. What happens if it only lasts for 6 months? I do not foresee people lining up for shots every 6 months. We need another egg in another basket. This cannot be the only pathway forward.
Related to this time question, we do not know if people can tolerate a second or third series of vaccination. What if you can tolerate one, but the second or third series does not work, or causes problems. There is too much at risk to only remain with this one pathway. Perhaps a more affordable, less risky approach that many people are already doing on their own or with the guidance of an integrative doctor needs to be tested and funded properly.
3. We do not know if the vaccines will continue to be effective, as the virus mutates. I mention this for completeness sake. Vaccines are made in relation to specific parts of the virus. If the current wild virus mutates out of that realm, it may be that the vaccine will stop being effective. I do not think this is a major concern here, since, as I mentioned above, the virus is mutating slowly and it is not mutating easily in the areas that the vaccine is aimed at. Having a close vaccine, like having a close virus, I believe, is protective in itself. However, it is a possibility that the vaccine will stop being effective. Having a second pathway open is vital to the security of this nation, and the quickest, easiest, most affordable pathway involves the natural medicine course, which has a known side-effect profile, and know dosage and usage. Only efficacy need be tested.
MY WISH LIST VIS A VIS VACCINATIONS AND INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE COMMUNITY
Here’s what can be done now, with regard to COVID-19 and vaccinations. I am writing here for those working at the colleges and in professional organizations that are looking for the answer to, “What does our profession bring to the table?” They are also asking, “What should we say about the vaccination that is not already being said by the CDC/FDA/FTC?”
The main need would be an open, consistent, proactive relationship with the FTC/FDA which focuses on the following points:
a. We assist with the vaccine rollout by answering questions and diminishing vaccine hesitancy.
b. Research underscores that comorbidities predictably lead to worse disease manifestation and outcomes. Invite the work of integrative providers to impact the treatment of common chronic diseases, many of which are lifestyle and natural medicine modifiable, including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity. We have a record of proven efficacy working with these populations. When I was giving a talk on this, at one point I wept, and when someone asked me why, I said it is because what we have is a great deal of needless, pointless death. We have all the pieces spelled out to us, but it is a reluctance to broach a different pathway that allows some to die needlessly.
c. We have worked for decades on healthy immune functioning and need ongoing funding to test these approaches in regards to both prevention of and progression of COVID-19 illness.
e. We can partner with FTC to disseminate reliable information related to effective preventive and treatment approaches where research already exists. (Zinc, Co-Q10, Vitamin D status, etc.).
f. We assist in developing a protocol for people to use before and after vaccination to mitigate side effects, which in turn may well diminish unwanted vaccine reactions and vaccine hesitancy, and may potentially extend the effect of the vaccine.
In other words, we need to be working on Plan B. We need and want FTC and FDA support for this work. There is an unusual problem that exists in the USA. FDA/FTC rules state that for a substance to be used to treat a disease or prevent a disease, it has to go through stringent drug trials to prove safety and efficacy. OTC products do not have to go through this process, but on the other hand, health claims cannot be made for OTC products. There has to be a middle way here. Specifically, there are natural approaches that can be easily tested, and if the results show promise, larger studies can be done, and if these interventions are shown to work to treat and/or prevent illness, then uniquely, in this instance, FDA and FTC should allow and encourage such claims to be made.
Let me put it in very plain English. It might be that the virus will become more benign, and or it might be that the vaccine works perfectly, but what if it does not? There are very simple studies, very inexpensive studies, that can be conducted with natural products that are inexpensive, and have little to no side effects. These studies could be for disease prevention or treatment. If these work they should be allowed to become part of the national plan to treat or prevent illness, something that cannot be easily done at this time with OTC products.
A few examples, what if you develop a protocol of inexpensive natural products to be taken as a preventive and seeing how many of those taking those supplements become severely ill from the virus and need to be in the ICU. It may be that for example, taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Resveratrol, CoQ10, and Zinc on a daily basis makes it possible to lessen the likelihood of ending up in the ICU. What if most people taking these items, if they fall ill, end up having a milder form of the disease? After all, this is what the vaccine is aiming to do, to lessen the severity of the illness. What if other items to do the same thing? But unlike the vaccine are not so specific that they wear out, as the vaccine might. What if helping the underlying health and addressing comorbidities does the same? These are not inconsequential questions, and also not difficult questions to answer. We have the expertise. We have a willing and interested public. We just need the willingness to venture into this realm and to fund studies properly, and should they be successful, be allowed to disseminate those results as treatment plans.
MY WISH LIST OUTSIDE OF CAM
To finish off on a related topic. The main way forward, in a way that puts this period of life in the past, is if the virus changes. Specifically, if it becomes less dangerous. After all, we do not say we have a pandemic of a cold. The fact that billions get sick is sort of almost irrelevant since it’s mostly not dangerous. At this moment, we are waiting for the virus to mutate in such a way that it becomes less dangerous. This is nature in its process. Hopefully it is this next year and not much later!
As I mentioned last winter, another possibility is that we modify the virus ourselves. Making it less severe, even if more transmittable, if less people or few people become symptomatic, we are all happier for it, and the vaccine question goes away. All in all, I think this remains one of the easiest paths forward. I believe the virus will get there by itself, but it will take a year, a decade or a century. Of course, I am very, very much aware of the risk here. I am, after all, an evolutionary biologist at heart. But risks versus benefits, I would rather change the virus than change ourselves with a constant barrage of vaccines. The technology exists already. It is not difficult nor expensive. It is just a path that I am not sure that the Department of Defense, who has the capacity, would pursue such a venture. Though at some point if the vaccines are not doing the trick, this may well be in our future.
My other wish is that therapies working on other parts of the immune response be properly funded. Last winter, after speaking to people who were ill with this virus, I wrote about pathways that included C1INH. Eventually a company that manufactures this molecule conducted a small trial that led to positive results. They are now in the midst of a larger trial. This drug will be expensive. But what is important to me is understanding and working on that side of the inflammatory pathway that has been left behind. I think there is a great deal to learn there, which will lead to inexpensive therapeutics.
In sum, the question of should I get vaccinated reflects a false dichotomy, it is a logic fallacy. This is the point I have been trying to get across for a year now. It can be that there are other approaches that might work in concert or instead of vaccines, should vaccines not work out for the future. These should be looked at, in earnest, as soon as we can. In regard to where we are at this time, the end of this long year, vaccination is the pathway open to us. However, once vaccinated it buys us roughly 6-12 months to articulate and act on next steps. If we do not do so, then we have squandered our precious time once more. This is the time to be brave. A change in focus, or rather broadening our focus, by funding research has been and continues to be warranted.
Good luck with everything. Sending wishes for a healthy, peaceful year to you and yours.
There seems little doubt that the world is looking to relief from the Covid situation by promoting a vaccine as the ONLY way to stop and prevent the spread of the infection in all of its variants.
My personal experience with vaccine therapy had led to a self-made decision to look for other modes of treatment where there is a choice and proven and reliable medical answer, ie homoeopathy, however, I feel that the world situation and opinion regarding covid 19 vaccines is not going to leave a choice.
This is not the article to discuss the merits or problems with a vaccine. this is about the reality of having a vaccine with or without approval or consent. Travel domestic or international may depend on it. Entry to venues or even supermarkets may depend on it. Employers have the legal right to fire employees who do not have a vaccine. How this works with the British government’s statement of not giving a vaccine passport or acknowledgement of having a vaccine publically is at odds with the truth of the matter.
Im looking into the known effects of having the vaccine, sparse information available, even less regarding the ingredients, and we cannot ignore the fact that a lot of testing data has not been forthcoming. Primary effects of the vaccine do not have to be reported if it affected less that 2% of the total number of participants in the test phase. In 43000 people, that is 860 people. I disagree with this protocol emphatically.
So we need to commission homoeopathic manufacturing pharmacies to prepare the different vaccines in LM1, 6c and 30c, and test them in a proving to see what symptoms arise and find remedies that will work to rectify the problems that come up.