The New York Times reports on a small study where all rectal cancer patients given a certain pill were cancer-free. Though the sample size was tiny (just 18 patients), the study was significant enough to be presented in the New England Journal of Medicine (one of my dad’s two favorite publications he read.)
In the Times article, they said that despite the small sample “the results were unbelievable”.
“I believe this is the first time this has happened in the history of cancer,” said Dr. Luis A. Diaz Jr. of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Dr. Alan P. Venook, who studies colorectal cancer at the UC, San Francisco, worked on the study. He said he was certain it was the first time ever this had happened, that total remission in every patient is "unheard-of." One woman has been cancer free for two years.
The report says the treatment unmasks cancer cells, allowing the immune system to identify and destroy them.
The larger point is that it shows what researchers are dealing with and what they’ve discovered today. So, clearly it’s something that they are working for building towards other cancers.
Side Note: I know this is *NOT* because of Joe Biden -- but it's worth noting that he has made curing cancer his major issue since he was VP...and has been ridiculed for it by conservatives. But science & research -- and support -- is A Good Thing.
Here's the full article.
Several weeks back, the Washington Post had an article titled, “Covid deaths no longer overwhelmingly among unvaccinated as toll on elderly grows.” It certainly was an attention-getting thing to see and somewhat concerning. I had made notes to write about it, though as has been happening a lot lately, other stories took precedence. However, yesterday it got mentioned on MSNBC so I figured it was a good time to revisit it.
For those who want to read along, you can find the full article here.
Needless-to-say, it was surprising news. However, if one reads it closely, the story is different than the headline. Not that the headline itself was inaccurate to what the story is reporting – it’s not. It’s just that a headline doesn’t allow for the details of a full article to put perspective on the facts. For me, the most-telling passage in the article was “The bulk of vaccinated deaths are among people who did not get a booster shot, according to state data provided to The Post.”
“Did not get a booster shot.” Let alone the second booster shot. But not even one!
A story to put this in context --
About a month ago, I was invited to a party at someone’s home, and one of the people hadn’t gotten a booster, only the initial J&J vaccination. I did some research and a little “back-dating” and determined – this person likely got his shot around when it was first available. That was 13 months ago. The efficacy of the J&J vaccine after 6-8 months went down to just 13%. And as I said, he didn’t get a booster. So, now, to bring us up to today, add 5-7 more months since its efficacy plummeted to 13%, and that means the guy was essentially unvaccinated. Even though he could tell himself – and tell others (and tell researchers if asked) – that, oh, yes, he most definitely was vaccinated. And he was – but that’s like getting the flu shot in 2020 and telling people (and telling yourself) that all’s well, you’re covered, you didn’t need a flu shot in 2021 because you’d been vaccinated. Never mind that it was out of date with no protection. Yes, he had had the J&J vaccine – but for all intents and purposes, he was unvaccinated.
That’s pretty much what this data is saying, too. Yes, these people who died were “vaccinated.” But the vaccine’s protection had worn out – and it wasn’t that they hadn’t gotten the second booster, they hadn’t even gotten the first booster!! So, they were basically unvaccinated -- even though officially they’d been vaccinated and could say they’d been vaccinated, and research data would show they were vaccinated. Add to this that they were elderly and perhaps immunocompromised. So, the results are not terribly surprising: if you didn’t get the shot and are unvaccinated, or if you did get the shot but its efficacy wore off long ago and you didn’t get even one booster, you’re just as unvaccinated -- and both offer absolutely no protection.
And as one read the article, there was other data that supported how most of the deaths were for people unvaccinated, and that those who’d had the booster had significantly lower death rates. Now, if you add the second booster to that, they are even more protected.
In fact, not only did the article say this – but they highlighted it with a separate boldfaced heading --
"Unvaccinated still die at a much higher rate"
“The share of deaths among vaccinated people has risen, but the rate of death is still many times higher among unvaccinated people. In January and February, unvaccinated people died at about seven times the rate of the fully vaccinated and 20 times the rate of people with boosters, according to a study of deaths among the vaccinated from 23 state and county health departments.”
So, it says very clearly that people who are unvaccinated not only die at a rate seven times those who have had the initial two doses (or one for J&J), they are dying at 20 times the rate of people with just one booster. The study wouldn’t have data yet for people with two boosters. So, that “20 times the rate” figure is only a minimum figure – yet the protection compared to someone unvaccinated is overwhelmingly higher.
I have a thought with further impacts the data.
I suspect a major factor in all this, too, is that people who got the initial two-dose shot and believe they are now “vaccinated” think that they have remained “vaccinated” and are, if not completely protected, substantively vaccinated. Never mind that the vaccine’s efficacy actually wore off long ago and they didn’t bother to get a booster – since why should they? They’ve been “vaccinated.” Further, feeling that they were vaccinated and protected, many such people probably felt they could take more risks than before. Traveled more. Got together with big groups indoors more. Didn’t wear a mask. Didn’t try to socially distance. Maybe didn’t wash their hands as much. After all, “I’m vaccinated.” Even though the protection had worn off.
So, is it true that “Covid deaths no longer overwhelmingly among unvaccinated”? Absolutely. It’s just that the efficacy of people who got “vaccinated” well-over a year ago and never got a booster (let alone two) have had the effectiveness of their initial vaccination wear off to the point where they are, essentially, unvaccinated. Even though they can say “Yes, I’ve been vaccinated!”
The only annoyance is that I’m near-certain that unvaccinated people and their advocates will misuse the article completely.
And no, most especially since there was a serve-yourself buffet of food, with common serving utensils, along with a guest who was effectively unvaccinated, despite his insistence to the contrary, I did not go to the party.
If you didn't see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, the Main Story was -- well, actually there wasn't a Main Story. Instead, there were two of them. It was that kind of a news week.
They did have a Main Story planned -- we'll get to that tomorrow -- but following the leak at the Supreme Court, the show put together an opening Main Story on the upcoming Abortion Ruling. It's very good, with a lot of humor mixed in with the history and outrage.
If you missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver last night, his Main Story was on Environmental Racism. It was quite interesting, looking at how environmental regulations in city planning have caused profound racial health problems. He was able to make it pretty funny at times, which is impressive since it was one of the rare stories he’s done that did have possible solutions.
If you missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sunday, his main story was on Drugs – well, that’s how it started, but then developed into Harm Reduction, which is basically accepting that people will take drugs, so what can be done to protect them so that they don’t actually die. It’s a very interesting report, filled with a lot of humor and thoughtful suggestion that, while good, all mostly boil down to, “Yes, I know this means you’ll let people take drugs rather than arrest them, but…come on, folks, at least they’ll live.”
Yesterday, I read about a bill that's passed the New Hampshire House earlier in the day. (It's not law yet.) The bill, HB 1080, allows a cashier to deny someone their birth control because of their own religious beliefs.
Just to confirm this, I found opposition testimony by Planned Parenthood which says, "
The bill would allow nearly any employee at any public or private health care institution, including pharmacies, to not only refuse to provide abortion, sterilization, or contraception, but also to refuse to fill prescriptions…” Moreover, even a receptionist could refuse to make an appointment.
But it goes farther, not just would an employee be able to block providing services because of religious reasons but also moral ones. They write (and the boldface below is Planned Parenthood’s, not mine) –
Anyone with a religious, moral or ethical objection to abortion, sterilization, or contraception services may restrict the health care that a patient may receive, undermining the patient’s right to health care. The boundaries for moral or ethical objections are not defined in the bill, resulting in limitless possibilities for providers who refuse to give essential care.”
Given that it is rightly illegal to discriminate against someone on religious grounds, it oddly seems like this bill allows people for religious reasons to discriminate against those whose religious beliefs do not have the same tenets as yours. (Never mind the whole "moral" and “ethical” objection thing.)
It’s hard to imagine this passing a Constitutional challenge, even with this Supreme Court, though relying on this Supreme Court for things “hard to imagine” might be a risky undertaking.
Should this ever occur when trying to pay, one might consider holding up the line until the cashier got another employee to punch in the purchase. Or waiting until the receptionist got their supervisor to make your appointment.
Now, of course, it’s certainly possible that any business which tolerated an employee refusing such basic services would be a business that agreed with the refusal – though unless the business made it known upfront that they would have nothing to do with abortion services, that would mean the business did not agree with their employee’s action. Which raises the question – can a business fire an employee for not doing what their job requires…or would that be firing them for religious reasons? (I would think that you can fire an employee because he or she didn’t agree with the morality or ethics of the business. I would think a court would say, “You are guaranteed your personal morals and ethics, you are not guaranteed a job. If you don’t like the morals of your job, find a new job.”
You can read the Planned Parenthood response here.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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