This headline derives from a statement that heads a news piece on WebMD. It was made by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, and for the first time in my knowledge, we have an expert who is telling something of the truth. We are going to get to this because it is uncovered in an interview which is still dancing around the edges of real truth about COVID-19 and its source virus, SARS-CoV-2, but it is the closest approach I have seen from these people.
If the reader will indulge for a bit of background, I want to set the table for this – it is important and it ought to be properly presented in context. Here we go…
Political theater is, and should always be, distinct from real interviews. The present style of conduct in Congress is for the person questioned to be cornered by the Congressmen and women of the opposing party and made to look really bad. In the case of Joe Biden’s political appointees, this is a pretty easy task.
However, COVID-19 has very special problems in messaging to the United States, let alone the world.
The biggest part of the problem is the amazing level of dishonesty that surrounds COVID, due to information being hidden and / or politicized. For this reason, we are presenting the interview Bret Baier does with Centers for Disease Control Director, Rochelle Walensky. Here, she is given a nearly 21-minute interview with some pretty fair questioning. Dr. Walensky is also given a chance to fully answer the questions.
This is an interview worth listening carefully to in its entirety. For one reason, we must be fair and sober in our assessment of COVID, its vaccines, its threats and so on. We as persons must seek information that is free of politics. For a second reason, Bret Baier is not the only one asking questions, as this interview invited questions from the public, which are very good, as you will see.
Our further question, therefore, that permeates and applies to this whole interview is this:
Does Doctor Walensky successfully deliver real, honest and usable information regarding COVID-19 and the present vaccination drive?
This is a question for each viewer and reader to answer for themselves. There are some statements given by the doctor that bear some thought for me, and if the reader will forgive this indulgence, I will list them.
Please bear in mind that while I have a particular and very well-documented viewpoint about COVID-19 and its causes and treatments, most of my present objections spring from the political games that have been played with it, and from the lack of real honest science that is offered to the public. In all fairness, the extreme politicization of American news media makes it very difficult to capture real information, but extended interviews like this can help. Here, then are the points I am not comfortable with:
[03:20] Bret Baier: Are the masks being added back… to protect the unvaccinated people, or are they protecting the vaccinated people?
Dr. Walensky: (with a smile) If you are vaccinated, when you are vaccinated, you are protected from severe disease and death. When we removed the masks in May for the vaccinated people, the Alpha variant was the predominant variant, and we had data to suggest that if you were infected as a breakthrough case [with Alpha], you couldn’t give it to someone else.
My interruption: How does a vaccine prevent transmission of Alpha if a person is infected or sick with Alpha? How does this work? I have never heard of such a function of vaccine. I understand these as preventing the individual from contracting whatever disease they are vaccinated from.
[3:57] (as Dr. Walensky’s answer continues) Fast forward now [to] the end of July; the predominant strain is Delta, and the data that we saw was unlike Alpha, in that Delta allows you to transmit to somebody else. The masks are really being put on for vaccinated people in areas of high-density disease, such that if they were to get infected, that they knew if they might bring it to somebody that was immuno-compromised, somebody who was not yet vaccinated, so it was really to prevent transmission.
My second interruption: This is much like my first question. Why does the vaccine not just stop this thing dead in its tracks? And what is this convoluted talk about vaccinated people picking up Delta and spreading it? Should not logic dictate that a vaccinated person will not get COVID and that unvaccinated people can? This answer sounds backwards. Why?
The next question is prefaced and adorned but comes from a regular person:
[4:34] There is a feeling that the goalposts have been moved a bit. Here is Dominic Marcy with a couple of questions: [First] If is considered rare to get COVID-19 if you are fully vaccinated with the Delta variant, when will we ever get back to normal, where masks are not required? And my second question: If other variants come along, at what percentage of cases, of hospitalizations, do you not recommend wearing masks?
This question was tuned a bit more by Bret Baier who commented that the intial measures were meant to “flatten the curve, to prevent hospitals from being overrun, but now it does seem, Dr. Walensky… that we are trying to kill this virus entirely; can you just answer his percentage point question?”
[5:32] Dr. Walensky (now with a much more grave expression): I think it is really important to recognize, that as we think about the absolute number of people that are getting infected, that is, … related to the number of people who have disease, the number of people who are vaccinated, and how well those vaccines work, that it is actually quantitatively possible to have 95% protection from hospitalizations and still have a lot of breakthrough infections, if most of your population is vaccinated.
My third interruption: This answer is no answer. Distilled for simplicity it means that people may not go to the hospital as much but they will still get infected. That is all. No answer to “when we get back to normal.” So to Bret’s credit, he tries again…
Bret: But is there a normalcy; is the next variant just around the corner? And is that something that we are always going to be on this stop-and-start with putting masks on or not?
Dr. Walensky: This was not news I expected the American people to welcome; This weighed heavily on me to have to do this. But I will also say, this virus has been humbling. I was taking care of patients a year ago, I joined the CDC six months ago, and the science continues to change. And while that is neither simple nor easy to convey, it’s my responsibility to keep the American people safe, and as that science evolves, I evolve with the CDC, the guidance. What I will say is that I continue to be humbled by this virus. I have no interest in continuing mask guidance. And the best way to stop a new variant from spreading is to have less virus out there, and the best way to do that is to get people vaccinated and to mask up until they are.
My fourth interruption: This answer begins to give us real information. Dr. Walensky notes she is “humbled” by the virus. She acknowledged that scientific opinion on it is changing and she has to change with it. That is true and evidenced well enough. But then, her solution appears to lose logical connection. To vaccinate people against a virus with so many unknowns with a vaccine that does not really work very well (it lets mutations through, though the “Science” says that vaccinated people do not spread breakthrough infection – this I doubt very much; it defies logic, and hence, I believe it defies reality) is panicky, irrational, illogical and DANGEROUS. I see a partial admission of the truth here though: that the virus is throwing the medical experts for loops, and if you look at my other pieces, it is clear what I believe the cause of this problem is.
At minute [7:15] there is a bombshell. Dr. Walensky is reported as saying:
“We are just two or three mutations away from a variant that can’t be defeated by our vaccines.”
This was stated by Bret Baier who went to to note “There were some top health officials who found this statement troubling, a little bit fear-mongering, because they believe that the vaccine that we have currently, the mRNA, can be adjusted to deal with whatever variant comes down the line, and can be fixed within a… short matter of time. Is that factual?”
Dr. Walensky (now dead serious): I think both are potentially true. I said I believe ‘a few mutations away’. The virus is smart. The virus is out to make sure that it can survive and it is an opportunist; it will go where we are not vaccinated. The more the virus is mutating, the more it has an opportunity to mutate away from our vaccines, and to be able to evade them. That, I think, is true, and that is the general concern of science. We are not there yet, and we are very lucky to not be there yet, but we have a lot of virus circulating here. It is very true, and I think that it is a scientific ‘win’, that we have mRNA vaccines that can be adapted for new viral variants, new mutations, and that is amazing. However, that will take some time, and so what we would really like to do is to not be in that place.
My final interruption: An article from Breakthroughs explains the differences between antigenic “drift” and antigenic “shift” for viruses, both of which involve how mutations occur. The piece maintains that SARS-CoV-2 does not undergo antigenic drift, which is said to be a rather quick-paced means of mutation. But buried further down in the piece there is a description of “recombination”, a term which has been quoted as such in medical journal entries on coronavirus gain-of-function research. The article offers this information:
When a shift happens, most people have little or no immunity against the resulting new virus (as shown by the “x” marks below). Viruses emerging as a result of antigenic shift are the ones most likely to cause pandemics.
Coronaviruses do not have segmented genomes and cannot reassort. Instead, the coronavirus genome is made of a single, very long piece of RNA. However, when two coronaviruses infect the same cell, they can recombine, which is different than reassortment. In recombination, a new single RNA genome is stitched together from pieces of the two “parental” coronaviruses genomes. It’s not as efficient as reassortment, but scientists believe that coronaviruses have recombined in nature.
When this happens, scientists identify the resulting virus as a “novel coronavirus.” The generation of a novel coronavirus, although occurring by a different mechanism than antigenic shift in influenza viruses, can have a similar consequence, with pandemic spread.
It would seem that the good doctor is describing recombination, and that she sees the mutation process as fairly swift, which it seems to be. We already have three known variants reported in the news, Alpha, Beta and Delta, with Gamma (from Brazil) beginning to make itself known in the world.
Again the doctor appears to have been fairly honest, but she still clings to that part of the narrative which does not make much sense. The unacknowledged bit is that the attempts to deal with COVID-19 appear panicky, desperate, and in a sense, we already knew that. Operation Warp Speed was meant to fast-track a solution to this problem. However, the lack of honesty surrounding this has caused big problems. Going from “this will fix it for good!” to “you will need vaccine boosters every few months,” to “we are but a few mutations away from unstoppable” is discouraging and maddening. It would have been better to start with “we do not know anything and we are not going to say we know something until we are sure that we know it. Till that time comes, we will do our best, but remember, we do not know anything.”
That would have won my trust. Not what is happening now.
Maybe if the whole matter of COVID were pursued with this level of honesty as a beginning, the public trust would increase. As it is, with the truth hidden behind wordy and unclear answers, the distrust of the CDC, the Biden Administration, the vaccines and “science” will only increase.
If only our experts would listen. We want to have something to believe in, but the greatest casualty of COVID-19 is the truth, and that is why things are no longer going well.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.