july 2021 pandemic update 62bc49ab27af9

July 2021 Pandemic Update

Hi its Dr. Jeffrey Mark. I’ve had a lot of questions on this latest SARS COV 2 surge which is driven by the Delta Variant. Here’s a brief update.

Variants occur when a virus makes a mistake in copying itself during an infection. It’s been shown that the virus will make up to a billion copies of itself in just one individual that’s infected. The SARS COV 2 virus compared to other viruses tends to make inaccurate copies of itself which turns out to be an advantage in the sense random mistakes could make a copy or variant that is better at getting through the host defenses thus more contagious or could be more virulent and thus cause higher death rates. 


So far we have had the  UK variant the South African variant, the Brazilian variant, and more recently the Delta variant first discovered in India. The delta variant or B.1.617.2 is about 200% more contagious than the original virus, the Lancet found that the delta variant had a 1.85 times higher risk of getting the person infected in the hospital with severe COVID-19.  In the UK where greater than 90% of the cases are of the Delta variant and fueling the latest surge, at least 60% of the population is vaccinated with two doses, which is actually very good. but despite this fact the cases have gone up in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The good news is that the corresponding deaths have not come along with that surge, as of yet  Vaccination rates are also high in Israel where most have been vaccinated with the very effective Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Yet there has been a small recurrence of cases to date, mostly from the Delta variant.  The Israeli’s have pointed to an internal study that showed the Pfizer BioNTech at only 39% effective against the Delta variant and they are giving booster injections. The numbers in their study have not been reviewed or verified by world experts including the WHO or our CDC.  Cases in Southern California have gone up to 7 times where they were in early June and indoor masking for all is again the standard practice. Looking at the 4 vaccines available: the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and the Johnson and Johnson vaccines are DNA viral vector vaccines, and the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna are messenger RNA, vaccines. Each of these vaccines is described in detail from previous blogs.


So let’s discuss what we know about the vaccines and the delta variant.  There was a UK study that showed after the first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine 33% effective for protection against infection from the delta variant and 88% effective after the second dose at preventing symptomatic infection from the delta variant. There was a Canadian study that came up with slightly different numbers that showed  56% after the first dose and 87% after the second dose. There was an Israeli study that showed after the second dose, there was 64%, and there was a Scottish study that showed 79%.  It should be noted that all these numbers would still meet FDA approval as they were over 50% if the original virus was the delta variant.  Just as I told you the virus makes variant copies of itself, our immune system as a defense makes antibodies and stores and modifies the blueprints for these neutralizing antibodies in our T cells and they also are not perfect so every once in a while a variant antibody is made and occasionally they match other variants like the delta variant much better and your body will make more of them if they are more successful.  So more activation with a vaccine and the creation of more antibodies helps in that even if an exact match is not present with the delta variant there is enough overlap of common areas that it just may take more antibodies to bind at more minor sites, for example maybe requiring 8 antibodies similar but not exactly matching compared to 1 antibody as an exact match.  Also making more antibodies means more T cell activation and more chances to make variant antibodies as well.  All these may be rationalization or justification for getting booster shots. The importance of the T cells is that they may effectively at reducing hospitalizations by taking care of cells that are already infected, and therefore what we typically find is that the hospitalization numbers are usually much better so that numbers are much better after the second dose in these studies and, showed a 96%, prevention of hospitalization and death if you got the Pfizer Biotech vaccine, after the second dose.


There was a Canadian study that looked at after the first dose, there was a 78% reduction in hospitalization with Pfizer BioNTech vaccination. Another Israeli study showed in terms of preventing hospitalization after the second dose that it was 93% effective at preventing hospitalization and death in Israel.  These studies show that the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is effective despite the fact that delta is more infectious, and causes potentially more hospitalization Pfizer is exceptionally good at preventing hospitalization and death from the Delta variant.


For Moderna, a Canadian study showed that after the first dose, there was a 72% reduction for symptomatic infection and after the second dose that of the Moderna vaccine was 96% effective at preventing hospitalization and death.


The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine after the first dose, they found it to be 33% effective at preventing infection, and after the second dose, 60%, effective In Canada they found that after the first dose, it was 67% effective at preventing infection

In regards to hospitalization, the UK study found that it was 93% effective after the second dose, preventing hospitalization. In the Canadian study, it was 88% effective at preventing hospitalization and death if you took the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccination. So again, very good numbers at preventing severe disease or hospitalizations


For the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the single-shot vaccine, we don’t have peer-reviewed studies currently that look at the efficacy specifically against delta except for some internal studies that looked at the South African variant.  Because the  Johnson and Johnson vaccine was in phase 4 testing much later at the time of a surging pandemic rather than a stable one for the messenger RNA vaccines, it was tested against the most strenuous variants, or the worst variant, at the time which was the South African variant. When they tested the antibody response of the Delta variant in comparison to the South African variant, it was found that there was a higher level of antibody response to the Delta variant than there was even to the South African variant. So it was found that there was a very good antibody response to the Delta variant. The studies with the South African variant with respect to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, showed no one got hospitalized or died of the South African variant 49 days after they received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In fact, Johnson and Johnson put out a statement saying that as time went on, the immunity got better, up to even eight months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccination. So because these vaccinations are so good at preventing hospitalization and death, and also reasonable at preventing infection, your risk from the Delta variant will depend on a few things. First, your chances of severe illness or hospitalization are much less if you are vaccinated and your exposure or viral load to the virus will depend on how many people around you are vaccinated or unvaccinated. Obviously, If there’s a high frequency of vaccination in the population around you, then you’re going to be more protected. Also, the prevalence of the delta variant in your community affects your risk of exposure.  Your level of antibodies can be measured, and your T cell response also will play a role.  Other than vaccination, the most important factor is the health of your immune system and your overall health.  Please see our blogs on building up your immune system. Immune resiliency, exercise, nutrients, and supplements such as ImmuneDefense, Virax, Liposomal glutathione, ImmunoMax, HIstamune, and Zinc Elderberry.  If you happen to get COVID, please see our blog on what to do if you get COVID.


For more information on the AFH immune resiliency program, supplements, or any of our other AFH programs please email info@jeffreymarkmd.com, visit www.allfunctionalhealth.com, or call (925) 736-9828.


Take Care and Stay Healthy,


Jeffrey Mark, M.D.

Jeffrey Mark, M.D.

Helping clients with compassionate and comprehensive medical care for over 25 years with 4 board certifications in functional medicine, gastroenterology, internal medicine, and anti-aging/ regenerative medicine . IFMCP, ABIM Gastroenterology, NPAS Internal Medicine, ABAARM.

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