Having a healthy weight OR being young might protect your community as much as getting a Covid vaccine — why aren’t we talking about this?
You likely already know that being overweight or elderly significantly increases your chances of having a severe case or even dying from Covid.
But did you know research shows that overweight and older individuals also pose a far greater threat to the community? And that, conversely, being young and/or thin provides substantial protection for your community as well as for yourself?
It turns out that overweight and elderly people produce far more aerosols than the average person — and experts believe Covid spreads via aerosols. The overweight and elderly also tend to have higher viral loads when infected, which makes sense given they are more vulnerable to Covid. Combining these points, they are much more likely to be the super-spreaders we have long known drive Covid.
The numbers are stark. Research published in the National Academy of Sciences found that just 18% of subjects were responsible for 80% of aerosols and droplets. They called these high-risk spreaders. Notably NONE of the high-risk spreaders were below age 26 or under 22 BMI.
In the graph above, each teal vertical line represents one human subject. The y-axis displays the number of exhaled particles. We can see that a few high-risk spreaders are producing the vast majority of aerosols. In fact, they produce almost 20 times as many particles as a non-high-risk spreader. Put another way, if a person from the high-risk group is in a room with a person from the normal group, on average, the high-risk individual will be responsible for ~95% of the particles emitted. The numbers are laid out below show how we get here. We use 100 people for simplicity and use the same rates found in the PNAS study.
4.44% is roughly 18.5X 0.24%. This suggests being young and/or a healthy weight not only protects the individual, but provides substantial protection to their community as well.
This begs the question- why aren’t our public health officials talking about this and commissioning more studies on it?
Why aren’t they emphasizing to the American people how important it is to eat well and exercise to protect the community as well as ourselves from Covid? While we may not be able to control our age, there is a lot we can do to achieve (or maintain) a healthy weight, which has myriad positive benefits beyond Covid. It’d be a win for the individual, for the community and for our healthcare system. Yet have you heard Fauci or Biden imploring us recently to exercise and stay trim to protect our community? We have only heard them telling us all to get vaccinated — regardless of our age or weight.
The policy implications from this study are profound. It raises serious questions about the scientific basis for mass-vaccinating children, something Fauci has been promoting aggressively. Again Given NONE of the high-risk spreaders were under 26. Given children are (1) at low risk of getting a serious Covid case and (2) appear to pose a low risk of spreading Covid to the community, why is this necessary? Especially given the vaccine is a novel, gene-based technology that hasn’t been fully FDA-approved and for which we don’t have long-term safety data. It simply does not add up.
Super-star Harvard epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff does not think it makes sense either (Twitter did not like his opinion…but the research above supports it):
It’s worth noting Martin Kulldorff is pro-Covid vaccine, recently getting in trouble for publicly disagreeing with the FDA’s decision to suspend the J&J Covid vaccine (they have since reversed that decision). He saw no reason to halt the vaccine for older patients who benefit from it the most when all the deaths in question were of young women. He also sees no reason to give it to children.
A recent BMJ blog made a similar argument. Covid is not an emergency among children (unlike adults) so it is inappropriate to use an Emergency Use Authorization, which is a lower safety standard than full FDA approval and what all Covid vaccines currently have. Dr. Kazemi, who tweeted out this BMJ article, has described himself as “110% pro-vaccine” and has received the vaccine himself, but rejects the call to mass vaccinate children.
More generally, this research underscores thinking about herd immunity in terms of the percentage of people vaccinated is a clunky and highly suboptimal approach. Rather than deciding we must vaccinate 80% of all people (including healthy children who pose low-risk to the community and are not vulnerable to Covid), we should focus on the high-risk spreaders who are responsible for 80% of aerosols, which is how the experts say Covid spreads. Isn’t that a far superior way to achieve the 80% goal?
We would love to see a scientific hearing or a debate between Fauci and like-minded scientists against Kulldorff and others skeptical of mass-vaccinating children so the public can hear both sides and parents can make informed decisions.
It strikes us as a breach of public trust to deprive the public of this exchange. Many bright minds in science and medicine are making compelling arguments that this aggressive approach is not scientifically sound. The authorities have not provided compelling responses, but continue to declare virtually all children must be vaccinated. The people deserve to hear a debate between both sides.