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Minnesota, Vaccine Debunking COVID-19 Vaccine Myths: Dr. Bill Morice

I’M. Dr bobby pritt, a clinical microbiologist and the chair of the division of clinical microbiology at mayo clinic in rochester minnesota with me today, is dr bill. Maurice, the chair of the department of laboratory medicine and pathology at mayo clinic and the president of mayo clinic laboratories. This is our weekly discussion with dr maurice, in which we learn about updates and laboratory testing during the covid19 pandemic. So bill welcome back good to talk to you this week again another week, another chat with uh with with parasite gal from twitter fame, yeah. Of course, we’ve been talking not so much about parasites, but more about viruses in covid19, of course, that’s the hot topic these days um, but i was really excited. I got my first dose of the vaccine last week and i heard you got yours as well and showed it off on twitter, which is yeah. I did. I did yeah that caused quite a little twitter storm. It was, it was fun yeah. You were showing off your muscles while you got your twitter that’s great inadvertently, inadvertently that wasn’t the purpose but that’s yeah. So i think vaccines would be a good thing to talk about because, as we know, the vaccine is our best prevention method for uh coronavirus. Once we’ve developed heart immunity, of course, meanwhile we’re going to be wearing our masks and keeping distancing um, but i know that some people are still trying to decide when the vaccine is available to them.

Are they going to get vaccinated? So it probably would be good to just talk about the vaccine and maybe debunk some of the myths of what you know. People might be hearing um that might be pushing them away from getting vaccinated yeah. No, i think, it’s really important to for, for us to discuss and for healthcare people in healthcare. Just say what we know about the vaccines and what we don’t and just be honest, so people can make the best choices for them. You know one of the things that for people to remember just any vaccine, any vaccination program really has two too intense right and i think people often lose that and the one is to vaccinate people to protect them from a pathogen right. So getting a vaccine um. You know if you’re going to be traveling overseas, for instance at certain locations you need to be vaccinated before you go prophylactically to protect you from infection, but also the purpose of vaccines is to actually help control the spread or ideally eradicate diseases right, and you think About smallpox and polio and other scourges of mankind which have really been either eliminated or pushed to the fringe of elimination through vaccine programs and so that’s the really people and – and so we tend to look at this through one lens or the other oftentimes. But it’s really both that we need to think about and talk about yeah a lot of advantages with vaccination.

Well, i think one of the big myths that i’ve heard people say is well how do we know it’s safe? It was so rapidly developed and tested. Um i’m, not sure i trust it is what i’m hearing people say. What would what would be good advice that we could give our colleagues if you hear that type of message? Well, you know, i think, there’s a couple of things that again it’s it’s, understandable people, aren’t really privy to a lot of the information, and this is all again very new um one of the things that people need. A lot of that is concern around the new vaccines, which use only the mrna for the so basically the genetic code for the spike protein, which is delivered as a vaccine. And then your body makes the protein as opposed to other vaccines, which either introduce a protein or some form of the virus inactivated or attenuated meaning you can’t really replicate. So this is new, and so people are right away and i never heard of it before actually – and i hadn’t i mean but that’s what people are saying, um and but the reality is that, and i learned this i got a chance to to participate in a Webinar um with the former commissioner of the fda under the bush administration, who talked about, i think, it’s dr van estenberg, but i might be wrong on the name but but essentially talked about how this technology was actually first explored.

With the avian flu under the bush administration and the recognition that vaccines took so long to develop that we needed alternate technologies, really vaccine technologies had not changed for decades and so that’s. So this this technology of using the mrna is actually that’s. Something that’s been invested in uh by the federal government actually for for at least the last 10 years, so it’s new to us, but it’s really not new and it has been tried and explored in some other pandemics, including ebola, never was needed widespread, thankfully, because those Never became global scourges as covet has so so yeah, so yeah there’s a lot it’s new, but it’s. Not that new and again the safety data. Really, a lot of what we’ve seen has become it’s come so fast is because of the global effort and the alignment of forces between the federal government, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare practices to create quickly the safety data, to say that the that the vaccines are safe um When and again, these are the safeties monitored by independent boards that look at the safety just like we did for the convalescent platform for the expanded access program led by mayo that had a safety board like any trial, to look at a program like this um. So they looked and the safety data was strong, um, and so in terms of two months it really appeared to be quite safe and even more efficacious than they hoped and that’s the day we go on.

I do think, though, as doctor our colleague dr poland, uh, has talked a lot about, and people can look for his work as well. He’S been very much in the public domain. There is a difference between an emergency youth authorization and full fda approval, and we just need to be honest about that that the the fda has said the safety data that they have shows that this is safe. We don’t have the long term data that you would see in a typical fda approval, so we can’t answer some of those questions, but but uh um there are so that’s, but i think everything points to it being safe, yeah, that’s, the same thing i’ve seen bill And i like how you’ve said that if people are asked – and they want to share information, they could say that it is several safety boards. First of all, the fda has been has reviewed all of the data, but also there’s an independent evaluation. The advisory committee on immunization and they have conducted this independent evaluation of safety data they’ve, followed up on at least half of all the study participants for at least two months um and then, of course, each indus institution is also evaluating the safety data. For example. I know that mayo clinic has its own panel of experts that have evaluated the safety data before they start administering the vaccine to their staff. I also like the point you made about how far we’ve come um this mrna vaccine has.

Some has been something that we’ve been building upon and studying, for you know over a decade, so it’s, not new technology. This is just the first time that we’ve been able to use it, but reflecting back on the older vaccines where you’d grow up, live virus, that’s attenuated, so it’s weakened and it’s, not as severe and growing up it growing it up in chicken eggs. You know it’s really older technology, those older vaccines, so i think the new vaccine has some really important things that it has going for it. You know people with egg allergies. Don’T have to worry about getting this vaccine it’s, not a live virus, even if it was a weakened virus it’s not at all this isn’t a live attenuated virus, so you’re not going to get covered from the vaccine, and those are you know things that i think A lot of people, maybe don’t, realize about this new vaccine yeah and i would also yeah i agree and it’s it’s look it’s very challenging, and i know that uh from from close friends and and and family members who are out looking for information uh, it is Challenging because even in the scientific literature there’s some spectrum of opinions being proffered about the vaccine itself, um one of the things that that’s been out there is that the the spike protein has some homology, meaning similarity to a protein that’s expressed in human placenta, and that This somehow might cause infertility um, you know that’s and that’s been you know i and that actually, as i pointed out to the person that that raised, that with me, the reality is that, if that’s the case, then even the infection by you should actually be should Be immunized because the greater risk would be from actual infection where you got overwhelmed with lots and lots of live virus.

So i think that the most important thing for people is to find a trusted site like mayoclinic.org or something else, that’s going to look at lots of different information and bring it back together for us and then also there’s people that you know have said well gosh And there’s been in the late press about uh, someone got a vaccine, this is one that’s been out there and they – and it was a physician that, shortly after their vaccine had a had a fatal stroke and that, oh, my gosh, we should stop uh. We should stop the vaccine it’s, not safe. Well, when we’re giving the vaccine to millions of people. Unfortunately, people will have health events after the vaccine that are likely unrelated um almost and that because then they look back to the data again and they continue to monitor. So so again, i think the most important thing is to not to read individual pieces of information but find the source that you really trust that has all the information kind of uh that’s been reviewed and then presented to you in a way that you that’s really Fair because the individual pieces can really lead you down some some different rabbit holes. Mayo clinic has some great information on this too. If anyone does an internet search for mayo clinic covid19 vaccine – and we can include a link in the information about our podcast, there are multiple sources, including question and answer sessions with just really good digestible information that uh everyone can understand.

Yeah. I know i i agree and look it’s uh and i think going back to everyone watching this podcast or listening to it is i, you know, it’s to recognize. This is an individual decision. I mean i have to say when i got the vaccine. It was a little uh, it was i wouldn’t say i had trepidation, but it was a little different. I was thinking gosh. This is so new it’s, so different and i’m getting a shot um, but the reality is. You have to weigh um also that what we know with what we about the vaccine itself and what we know the vaccine can do, and i think it’s really important number one for individuals. I get it it’s it’s a decision you have to make, but you have to recognize that that covet. You should not minimize the risk of covet infection, we’re, learning more and more about individuals who get infected, who get really sick and including young individuals, and now that the whole that there’s, this post spiral syndrome from covent infection that people are getting so called long covert Or lung callers is a real thing with things like central sensitization, which can lead to pain phenomenon. So there are a lot of downsides to getting the infection that we do know that you need to take into consideration with it, with the some of the unknowns that we don’t have with the vaccines and again look, i don’t think there’s.

Anyone there’s, probably a very small segment of society that wanted to wear a mask, but most people don’t most people want to get back to normal is what we hear want to get back to being able to do things, we want to do uh. We have friends with small businesses that we really worry about and again taking them, keeping in mind that the more, if you’re comfortable, getting the vaccine, the the more people that get the vaccine they’re great it’s, really our greatest uh hope for getting out in front of This and getting back to a normal, a normal way of life, yeah well and bill. You raise another myth that perhaps we can debunk here the myth that you don’t need to wear a mask after you get the vaccine um. Do you want to talk about that? A little bit yeah and it’s interesting that uh – and this is uh there’s, also for people that want to know. There was also a paper. I believe last week, uh published about looking at the healthcare workers in the uk who had natural infection, and it was a really well done, study where they actually looked at uh with they had uh. You know surveillance, pcr, testing for the virus itself and serology and other things. What they found is that it’s true, the rate of reinfection even from natural infection is very low, but there were some people in that group that had positive pcrs that were not sick.

Well, after they had recovered from covet, and so the thought is that probably immunity protects us from really getting ill with covet, but might not protect us from having covet in our system and therefore being able to spread it to others that’s. Why we need to wear mass either if we’ve been sick with covey before or after we get vaccinated, because remembering masks masking is really prevent you from from inadvertently spreading copa to others, and there will be that until we reach a level of herd immunity that risk Will persist, um and i think it’s really important for us. You know working in a healthcare uh organization like mayo, clinic because some of the people coming here for care are those who are going to be more susceptible to cova, because they’re immunosuppressed, because of therapies or disease, or something else yeah yeah. So vaccination will help us get in front of this, but until everyone’s vaccinated. I think we do need to continue wearing masks and that’s pretty clear, and it is going to take a while to get everyone to have their two doses with the two vaccines that we’re using uh, in which there’s more than you know, 21 days or more between The two doses so good to remember that don’t give up your mask yet yep. The other thing i want to bring up is that you know uh that as a catholic, i think that there are some people that have religious considerations when, when, when going for a vaccine in terms of how it’s produced um that there’s a lot of good information, There, the catholic medical association, for instance, has a position.

You know that goes through all the vaccines and goes through. You know what what some of the religious uh to help you with that choice, again, it’s a very personal one, but again don’t trust, lay press on things like that really go. If you have, you have some kind of religious or other sort of consideration for the vaccine. You should really go to to a trusted source that can provide guidance, because i think all of them are yeah good point. I have one last myth that we can cover uh what if a patient says well or a person says well i’ve already had covet, so i don’t need to get the vaccine when it’s available well there’s a couple things. You know uh. First of all, the getting the vaccine we’re, not even mayo testing, to see if someone’s had prior exposure, we’re just vaccinating them unless they’ve been sick with kovac documented within you know, 90 days of their time to get vaccinated. But the reality is that the reason we want to vaccinate people even if they’ve had covet is that we have seen that natural infection there’s a pretty wide range of immunity and some people that probably don’t get very sick or get a really low, inoculum or low Level of exposure might not have a very strong immune response, and so by giving a controlled dose of the vaccine. We’Re really getting people everyone’s, that kind of same level, ideally of immunity to the virus, which is high, and i i do think that the reality is as we’ve seen with the last time we talked about the changes in the virus and the mutations uh.

The reality is that we’re, probably gon na, need to get you know re vaccinated periodically to to. If there are variants which start to emerge which are um, you know different enough from the current strains and circulation that we need of kind of a booster shot to to cover the new strains of covet that might be developing yeah. So we’re still learning a lot about the vaccines, but we know that the preliminary data show that they’re very safe i’m excited to get my second dose and we’ll just continue to give everyone updates on vaccination as they become available yeah. Do you have any other last thoughts on that? No just to keep your, i mean there’s again, there’s a lot of disability, very trusted sources of information, um there’s. I think at one point there were 11 vaccine in clinical trials across the globe. So we’ll continue to see more become available. Um and you want to learn. There’Ll be differences in those and some you might be more comfortable with than others and there’s also differences. Really. The one of the big advantages of all these different vaccines is there’s different ways of manufacturing them and where we are with vaccines, is a little bit like. We were testing. You know six months ago, where the need for, in this case, vaccines back then was testing far – is far greater than our ability to produce them. At this point, so the different vaccines will become available.

Um and just keep keep an eye on those, but they all will pass through the same level of scrutiny regarding their safety, and i do think that if you, if you have the opportunity to take a vaccine, you can be confident that the the fda in this Country has really carefully scrutinized to be sure that it’s safe in the near term, the chances of their you know, have we’ve done years. Long studies on these no, but the chances that there’s going to be long term complications is actually quite low. So most of the challenges and problems with vaccines come shortly after vaccinations. So so i think that uh, you know, be safe. If you have a chance to get vaccinated, be informed, and if you really have questions talk to your provider or someone, and if you are comfortable getting vaccine, you should because it will protect you from covet, and it would also help get all of us back to Normal as soon as possible, great points protect yourself, protect others, as always: belle it’s great talking with you, yeah it’s, it’s, yeah i’m. Sure we’ll have more next week as we do, but it’s always fun. Okay, talk to you soon, bye! Thank you. So much for tuning.

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