By Guy Page
Positive Covid-19 test cases are up in highly-vaccinated Vermont while declining nationally, Vermont Department of Health reported Tuesday. Covid-19 positive cases last week were higher per capita among vaccinated Vermonters than unvaccinated.
While positive cases are on the wane nationally, positive tests in 88.7% vaccinated Vermont are up 26%. Vermont had 14 Covid-19 deaths this month through Oct. 11.
Published data offers no breakdown in vaxxed-unvaxxed deaths, and Vermont Health Commissioner Mark Levine said he didn’t have that information at his fingertips and would ask his staff to provide it. There were definitely some vaxxed fatalities, he said, which he said is to be expected with a vaccine with a 90-95% effectiveness rate. By Sept. 25 last month, 76% of Covid fatalities were vaxxed.
Positive test cases among the fully vaccinated rate rose 7.1% last week, compared to 6.9% among the “not fully vaccinated.” Commissioner Levine said he believes it’s the first time vaccinated Vermonters tested positive at a higher rate than unvaccinated. When asked to explain, he said “I guess I try not to explain things that are 0.2 different. I wouldn’t want to blow that difference out of proportion.”
Gov. Phil Scott said he’s not sure why the 26% Vermont uptick has occurred.
“We’re expecting we’ll see that drop again,” Scott said. “It’s unfortunate. I wish we had the answers.” Vermonters must continue to get vaccinated, he said.
Also, Levine for the first time publicly endorsed a specific drug treatment program for the treatment of Covid-19. Until now, the only prescription drugs Levine has publicly recommended have been vaccines. “People who get Covid should consider asking their health provider for mono-clonal antibody treatments,” Levine said. “Monoclonal antibodies are recommended for patients with mid to moderate disease.”
As reminded by VPR reporter Peter Hirshfeld, Levine has not always been “bullish” on monoclonal antibody treatment. What has changed, he was asked.
A year ago, national advisory boards were cautious about mono-clonal antibodies, Levine responded. “The data and the science” now show strong support for this treatment, he said.
Levine also offered encouragement about Molnupiravir, an anti-viral treatment proposed by pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck for emergency use authorization.
“This could be an important tool,” Levine said. “Stay tuned for more news from the FDA and the CDC.”
Molnupiravir is reportedly similar to ivermectin. Levine in recent months has been dismissive of the therapeutic value of ivermectin, the low-cost, 2015 Nobel-prize winning anti-viral drug. After the FDA approval of the Comirnaty vaccine, he described ivermectin as “off the table.”
In a related matter, Scott also said Vermont school officials are doing the best they can to implement the school Covid-19 policies.
“I want to remind everyone they are just doing their jobs under very difficult conditions,” Scott said. “This is frustrating for everyone. “The cases we have seen in schools, and the quarantine we have seen for some, leads to frustration with families and work and so forth. It has led to frustrations for everyone.”
Guy Page is publisher of the Vermont Daily Chronicle. Reprinted with permission.