Science Conquered Diphtheria, the Plague Among Children


Inoculated horse, still the source of life-saving antitoxin

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, diphtheria challenged doctors with the terrible specter of children choked, smothered, snuffed out. It brought terror to the richest and the poorest, blighting famous families and anonymous ones…

Then, toward the end of the 19th century, scientists started identifying the bacteria that caused this human misery—giving the pathogen a name and delineating its poisonous weapon. It was diphtheria that led researchers around the world to unite in an unprecedented effort, using laboratory investigations to come up with new treatments for struggling, suffocating victims…

In the 1980s…there were only a few cases a year in the United States. Since 2000, there have been only six reported cases in the U.S….the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted some 8,800 cases reported overseas in 2017. In places where people aren’t getting vaccinated, or are slacking off on booster shots, diphtheria is finding its way back. And the standard treatment, little changed in more than a century, is in short supply.

The author takes the tale back to the beginning of research that led to discovery of the bacillus and, eventually, to treatment by antitoxin – and then to a vaccine.

I’ve posted before of children in my neighborhood getting together in spring to figure out who died over winter. Most often, those deaths were from diphtheria. And when the vaccine came to my elementary school for the first time, I was in that first group to be vaccinated. I was 7.

Only 1 student refused. His family were members of some religion that rejected vaccination. I’ve never missed one offered. Even volunteering for a few that were still experimental. Worth it to help others.

World’s largest employer will require COVID-19 vaccination


Bloomberg News/AP/Lolita C. Baldor

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. That deadline could be pushed up if the vaccine receives final FDA approval or infection rates continue to rise…

The memo is expected to go out Monday…

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision comes a bit more than a week after President Joe Biden told defense officials to develop a plan requiring troops to get shots as part of a broader campaign to increase vaccinations in the federal workforce. It reflects similar decisions by governments and companies around the world, as nations struggle with the highly contagious delta variant that has sent new U.S. cases, hospitalizations and deaths surging to heights not seen since the peaks last winter…

Austin said in his memo that the military services will have the next few weeks to prepare, determine how many vaccines they need, and how this mandate will be implemented. The additional time, however, also is a nod to the bitter political divisiveness over the vaccine and the knowledge that making it mandatory will likely trigger opposition from vaccine opponents across the state and federal governments, Congress and the American population.

It also provides time for the FDA to give final approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is expected early next month. Without that formal approval, Austin would need a waiver from Biden to make the shots mandatory…

The decision will add the COVID-19 vaccine to a list of other inoculations that service members are already required to get. Depending on their location around the world, service members can get as many as 17 different vaccines.

No surprise that the military has sufficient courage to challenge the pimps and populists infesting Congress, state legislatures and local politics in the GOUSA. Gung Ho!

p.s. That comment is only about politicians. The lowest form of life on Earth.

Unvaccinated are “variant factories”

Unvaccinated people do more than merely risk their own health. They’re also a risk to everyone if they become infected with coronavirus, infectious disease specialists say.

That’s because the only source of new coronavirus variants is the body of an infected person.

“Unvaccinated people are potential variant factories,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN Friday.

“The more unvaccinated people there are, the more opportunities for the virus to multiply,” Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said.

“When it does, it mutates, and it could throw off a variant mutation that is even more serious down the road.”

This ain’t news. The failure of sufficient immunization ain’t news either. Both are repetitive examples of mediocre health education in our school systems. Altogether, the sum of cowardice of government, politicians in and out of office, to confront superstition, religion and just plain ignorance in our society.

Covid is already deadlier this year than all of 2020

A return to a sense of normalcy in the U.S. has been boosted by the country’s relatively high vaccination rates, with 53% of the population having received at least one dose. By contrast, some of the world’s poorest countries are yet to register a single dose…

Speaking on Tuesday during a news conference on the pandemic, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the highly transmissible delta variant was the “greatest threat” to the nation’s attempt to eliminate Covid.

Delta, first identified in India, now makes up about 20% of all new cases in the United States, up from 10% about two weeks ago, Fauci said. He has previously warned the country must avoid falling into the trap of believing the coronavirus crisis was over and no longer needed to be addressed…

Health experts are concerned about the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant. The Covid variant first identified in India is thought to be on track to become the dominant strain of the disease worldwide.

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Thursday that the spread of the delta variant in the U.S. was “highly concerning,” noting its prevalence in the country is currently doubling every 10 to 14 days.

Sadly, most Americans fail at understanding public health questions at rates similar to their understanding of mathematics. Worth worrying about.

Unvaccinated? You’re in trouble!


David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

As much of the country emerges from masking and social distancing, undervaccinated pockets in the U.S. still threaten to bring the virus roaring back.

Less than 25% of the population is fully vaccinated in at least 482 counties, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by Bloomberg News. Many of these counties are more rural and less economically advantaged than the rest of the U.S., and a majority of their voters in the last presidential election chose Donald Trump, according to the analysis of 2,700 U.S. counties.

Though more than 174 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, accounting for about 64.6% of the adult population, such averages belie stark gaps in vaccination rates at a local level. With more contagious versions of the virus like the delta variant taking hold, this creates opportunities for further spread.

Hidden pockets of low rates of vaccinations at the local level have been a challenge before in the U.S. “When you start to look at communities, you start to really unveil very, very low vaccination rates that tend to get averaged out when you’re looking at the entire country or even on an entire state,” said Maimuna Majumder, a health informatics researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. Viruses don’t spread at a national or statewide level, she said, but among friends, family and neighbors in a community, passing it to each other as people go about their daily lives.

I find it difficult to write polite phrases about people who choose to remain unvaccinated. Whatever the reason. It matters not whether religion or ignorance, fear or just plain stupidity governs your decision-making. You’re not only risking your own life. Apparently, you don’t care if you kill your children, your neighbors or the folks who live down the street.

The reasons for getting vaccinated aren’t new. I had to learn about them the first time I was vaccinated. That was in 1947. This is nothing daring. It doesn’t take anymore brains than stopping for a red light.

If Fox News were around in the 50’s…


Thanks, gocomics.org

This commentary is excerpted from an email I sent off literally 5 minutes before I saw tonight’s cartoon.

In the 1940’s – when I was a kid in elementary school and spring came around to the East End of Bridgeport, there were a couple of constants. (1) We’d get ready to start playing baseball, again. There always were seasonal pickup games of basketball or football; but, baseball was the sport for our neighborhood. (2) We’d look around as kids would start gathering to and from school, afternoon sports time, weekends – to see who died over winter.

Diphtheria vaccination was becoming widespread; still, we’d always lose at least one kid over winter. Going into spring and summer, polio was the scariest. There often was a survivor or two clattering through the neighborhood on crutches … And another one or two missing.

We learned to embrace vaccination, parents and kids alike, as the best modern survival medicine on Earth. I can’t recall more than one True Believer of the breast-beating Christian category who refused to be vaccinated. And, yes, he died before he was old enough to vote. My peers and I said, “he got what he deserved”.

Our government, our educators, have grown soft in the head and lax since the bad old days … Ignoring the propaganda of religious nutballs and ignoranus conservatives. They deserve the blame … and most of the responsibility to bring education and understanding back up to standard. In my not-at-all-humble opinion.

Ed Campbell