This blog is not a political blog. It is a health-related blog, for both ourselves and our pets. Our health is paramount in its effect on our pet’s health, so it is our responsibility to stay healthy so that we can contribute healthy energy to our pets in order for them to thrive.
The Covid-19 virus pandemic is the greatest viral threat that our country has faced in two generations, so it is important the we learn as much as possible in order to protect ourselves and our pets. Using the history of pet viral pandemics; response, mitigation and isolation and immunization, we can get a picture as to how the Covid-19 virus will likely play out.
A few days ago, the current White House administration, issued a government letter to all state and local health officials to prepare for the release of a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus on November 1, 2020. This is certainly a strange coincidence that it is the day before the national election for president of the US.
As most of you know, there has been a frenzy to come up with a vaccine for the virus and it appears that the political pressure from the WH administration has allowed for vaccine research to be fast-tracked so that one may be released before the election. This should be a great concern to all of us since there are no current pharmaceutical companies that are even close to releasing a vaccine.
Let me regress and discuss recent pet pandemics so that we can have a better perspective about this situation. I have been a practicing vet for almost 40 years and have seen two major pet viral pandemics occur in my career. Canine parvovirus and feline leukemia were both viral pandemics that killed tens of thousands of pets in our country.
When both of the viral pandemics in pets occurred, we attempted to manage it in a similar way that the Covid-19 virus has been handled. We strongly attempted to isolate our pets, rapid testing was done and ineffective treatment was tried. We were trying to slow down these pandemics until a vaccine was developed as we knew that it would likely be the only way that it would be stopped. That was the case for both pandemics. When an effective vaccine was released, in a short time, the pandemic was over.
When a pandemic occurs, the vaccine manufacturers go into a frenzy in an attempt to be the first in line, as the first one hits the financial jackpot. Imagine how much money the company that makes a Covid-19 vaccine is going to make while vaccinating people world-wide. The only thing that keeps these companies from taking short cuts and doing deceptive practices is the FDA. It is the responsibility of the FDA to make sure that all vaccines that are released to clinicians, both human and vets, are effective and safe. In order to make sure that this happens there are criteria that must be met and the FDA has historically made no exceptions to this rule. Until today.
The FDA, along with the CDC, are health organizations under the control of the federal government. Historically, the federal government has stayed out of the way of these organizations and let them do their professional work with the public’s health as their primary intent. This has led to great success in our national health care programs. Unfortunately, politics has now played a major role in the function of these health organizations. The current administration is strong-arming the FDA to relax guidelines for new vaccines in order to expedite a Covid-19 vaccine before the election.
When a vaccine is in trial, it must go through three phases, but basically, it needs to show the FDA that it is both effective and safe. This is mandatory, no matter what the situation is, pandemic or otherwise. We clinicians must know absolutely that when we vaccinate a pet that it will be protected and that the vaccine will not be harmful. We should not be vaccinating if we cannot assure our clients that this is the case.
On occasion, the FDA will grant a pharmaceutical company a temporary, fast-tract approval for a drug that will allow it to be released without thorough investigation or clinical trials. This is usually a drug that is not in response to a pandemic, but a clinical disease that is looking for a new, effective therapy. Unfortunately, many of these drugs end up being ineffective and harmful to the patients. I have seen this happen many times throughout my career.
Why does this happen? Power and influence. Big pharmaceutical companies have tremendous political pull and they often persuade greedy politicians to force the FDA to allow these fast-tract drugs. Again, for the sole purpose of being the first in line to the trough. Today, the political pressure is coming from the White House and not the pharmaceutical company, but the result is the same.
Many people in the know about Covid-19 have already begun to ask themselves if they are going to be vaccinated if a vaccine becomes available. Now, we not only have to ask this question to ourselves, but we also have to ask if this vaccine is truly safe and effective. I cannot imagine too many people willing to take the risk to be vaccinated with a non-proven vaccine.
There has also been a lot of information released by the White House stating herd immunity and controlling the virus. Herd immunity theory is based on the fact that if enough of the individuals in the population are protected, that it is unlikely that one that is not will come down with the virus. This is a ridiculous analogy of what is happening with Covid-19. Their premise is based on the belief that if enough people are exposed to the virus, live through the exposure and develop protective antibody, that they will create a protective buffer for those who have not been exposed. This is not true because it assumes that the antibody protection will last throughout the patient’s life. We are already seeing that this is not the case. There have been recent cases where people were exposed, got sick, developed antibody and then later contacted the virus again and got sick again.
If we look back in history we will see the same thing in previous human diseases. Many of us remember when polio was infecting people. Many people died or were left with symptoms that they lived with their entire lives. Not until an effective vaccine was give to the population did the disease stop. It was assumed that people who contracted the polio virus and lived would be protected the rest of their lives. This was not the case. Many survivors subsequently develops “Post Polio Syndrome” where the virus recurred and new symptoms occurred, leading to death for many of these patients. It appears that the patient’s immune system was keeping the virus at bay but did not eliminate the virus. Later, when the patient’s immune system became compromised, the virus became active and the diseases manifested. We are seeing this with other childhood diseases like mumps. Children who were not vaccinated that contracted the mumps virus and survived, did not eliminate the virus in the system, just kept it at bay. Later, when the individual’s health status changed, the mumps virus became active and produced new, different symptoms, now associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
We see the same thing in pets that were exposed to viruses before vaccination. Cats often harbor upper respiratory viruses throughout their lives with symptoms returning during stressful periods. This happens with other diseases in cats and dogs as well. Fungal infections like Valley Fever in dogs will often go latent until another health issue arises, and the fungus will re-activate and the pet will show symptoms again.
The reason for this explanation is to show you that the likelihood of controlling the Covid-19 virus without effective immunization will be unlikely. This means that it is mandatory that the vaccine that will be used to protect the public be absolutely safe and effective. This cannot happen if our health care is politicized. Please keep yourself informed and empower yourself to learn all that you can in order to make wise decisions regarding your health care when dealing with this pandemic. It is for your health as well as your pet’s.