[COLUMN] The California Surge

THIS is a warning, not only for Californians but for residents of other states where COVID-19 is still significant. The national 7-day daily average of cases, as of December 6, 2022, are still more than 53,000 a day and greater than 260 deaths per day. Many of these are unvaccinated and, sadly, many vaccine naysayers have died. Vaccination must be updated with booster #3, the bivalent vaccines, because newer strains are mutating and evolving.

The surge of COVID-19 infections in California and the great burden it imposes on the state’s healthcare system could be alleviated, according to experts, by bringing back masking and distancing, especially among children in school. And the waves of Flu and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) only complicate the picture of this tripledemic. RSV is especially dangerous for infants and super-seniors.

Contrary to fake news, vaccines, masks, and distancing effectively mitigate transmission, infection, hospitalization, and deaths. Those exposed to infected persons, or who are infected, should isolate themselves for 5 days, and use a mask for 5 days thereafter. COVID-19 is more contagious than the Flu or RSV. Those with infants/young children at home should be extra careful and use masks in public. Infants, young children and seniors have died from RSV and the flu, besides COVID-19.

Whether we like to acknowledge it or not, those who are anti-vaccines and anti-masks and who are unprotected are one of the major reasons for the unending waves of COVID-19, not only in the United States but elsewhere around the world.

There is no shame in wearing a mask; it shows wisdom and compassion for others around you. You are also protecting them, besides yourself.

Clinical studies have found that in cities and towns where the rate of vaccination, masking, and distancing are lowest, the infection rate, hospitalization, and deaths are highest. It does need an Einstein to figure this out. Common sense, which, unfortunately is uncommon, is all it takes to decipher and understand why.

The way our people behave, and the way the viruses behave, the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay, as an endemic, like the flu. This is our own doing, and we have to simply accept this and live with it.

Let’s follow science in protecting our health and life, and those of our loved ones. Vaccines, hygiene, masks, and distancing all work effectively when it comes to mitigating a contagious disease, albeit not 100 percent. But so are bullet-proof vests, which have nonetheless saved countless lives the past 108 years, like masks since the 1920s.

Heart effects of vaccines

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (inflammation of the covering around the heart) have been observed after a week in some individuals (around 105.9 per million) who received the COVID-19 vaccines. A new large international scale study showed the incidence of those two are very low, contrary to what was suspected before. Most cases were among male teens and young adults usually after the second dose of a primary series of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Majority of the patients recovered quickly; 93 percent required hospitalization, while 23 percent needed ICU care. No deaths were reported. This study was published last week in JAMA Pediatrics.

Monoclonal: Impotent

Monoclonal antibody, given by IV infusing as soon as a person tested positive for COVID-19 and proven to be most effective in curtailing the infection, is now ineffective against the new strains of SARS-CoV2, which are outsmarting our treatment strategy. Dealing with these viruses is a fluid exercise in wisdom and patience. They replicate and mutate to a more contagious strain and a more severe one for them to survive. If everybody were protected by the vaccines, they would not have any warm bodies to enter to replicate and mutate, and they self-destruct. Unfortunately, only 68 percent of people in the United States are fully vaccinated. The bodies of the 32 percent (105+ million) who are still unvaccinated bodies are being used by the viruses to replicate, mutate and evolve.

Protein versus carbs

Studies have shown that when protein intake is low, the rest of the calories in a diet usually comes from carbohydrates, which is not a healthy situation. Proteins are from red meat, poultry, fish, legumes, and nuts. These are the healthier foods, unless eaten in excess. Carbohydrates, which includes sugars and sweets, bread and potatoes, on the other hand, are not healthy because they are inflammatory food items. The so-called nightshade vegetables are also inflammatory and oxidants, detrimental especially to those with arthritis. Nightshades include potato, tomato, eggplant, peppers, goji berries, paprika, and red spices.

The recommendation is to have high protein diet (especially fish, chicken, and minimal red meat, no processed meats) and a lot of vegetables, oats, some chocolates, some fruits and nuts. Carbs like bread, rice, all forms of sugars, especially refined ones, sweets (like desserts) are to be consumed sparingly and occasionally.

While quality (type) of foods one eats is important, quantity (amount) is vital and essential to maintaining a healthy weight. In general, for those with normal weight, the recommended caloric intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men. Those with diabetes will have their individual computed caloric requirement. And so with those who are overweight and underweight.

Worse than fentanyl

Fentanyl has been in the news of late. It is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths, including 92,000 in 2020 alone. Many forms are available; some are multicolor like candies. It is responsible for countless fatal and non-fatal overdoses in the U.S. Many victims are children who accidentally eat them. The open southern border facilitates the entry of the cartel and these killer drugs, not to mention the criminal elements and COVID-infected people. About 3 million people in the U.S. are recovering from opioid addiction.

But there is now a newer and more vicious killer replacing fentanyl. It is called protonitazene, supposed to be even three times stronger than fentanyl. This new drug has been found in Canada and in the U.S., where 3 deaths have been reported in South Carolina. It may even be resistant to the antidote Narcan.

Public education, especially children’s education, starting even in pre-school, is vital in preventing accidental deaths from these killer drugs.

There is basically no difference between taking cyanide (suicide pills) and fentanyl or protonitazene or other potent opioids, except perhaps a few minutes before dying after ingestion.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He is a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1996, whose other awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Astronaut Gus Grissom, Mohammad Ali and David Letterman. Websites: FUN88com and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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