It’s October again, meaning yet another cold and flu season is upon us. But perhaps you forgot?
After all, COVID-19 has flooded headlines for almost two years now—and the annual cold/flu propaganda has fallen by the wayside. (Not to mention, in 2020, there was hardly even a flu season at all!)
Long story short: COVID-19 has changed everything.
Sure, we’ve made plenty of progress in this pandemic, but the new Delta variant has thrown a pretty major wrench into the march back to normality. And with cooler, darker days ahead, other viruses may be lurking in the shadows as well… from the seasonal cold and flu, to perhaps even a new strain of COVID.
All of which makes continued vigilance more important than ever.
The “rules” we’ve been following—like mask-wearing and social distancing—combined with science-backed decisions—like vaccination and smart supplementation—can actually help fight against all of these threats.
So, let’s talk more about what you can do—starting TODAY—to prime your immune system to fight off these infections…
Science says the COVID vaccines are effective
Let’s begin with the most obvious threat that continues to be top of mind: COVID, the Delta variant, and any other variant that may emerge.
Well, in my view, there’s one crucial decision you can make to help protect yourself: Vaccination.
Put simply, vaccination against COVID-19 works. And the science proves it.
In fact, a gold-standard study that analyzed the effectiveness of both mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) recently appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It featured more than 50,000 COVID-positive patients against an equal number of controls.
The patient population came from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and had a high rate of comorbidities like diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. (The exact group of people who could get seriously ill and die from COVID-19.) And that’s exactly what makes the results so promising…
Researchers found that, one week or longer after the second dose, the vaccines’ overall effectiveness against infection came in at 97.1 percent (96.2 percent for Pfizer, and 98.2 percent for Moderna).1 This success rate hovered above 95 percent even after accounting for age, sex, race, or comorbidities.
That’s critical because, before this study, we only had clinical trials to understand the effectiveness of the mRNA vaccines—without truly knowing how that would pan out in a larger population. But now, with hundreds of millions of people getting vaccinated across the globe, we actually have real world data to draw from.
And a 95 percent effective rate against infection —not just in a controlled setting, but with large-scale use—is promising news, and is definitely worth celebrating!
But what about the Delta variant?
Of course, while protection against the Delta variant may not be as strong—so far, research shows these vaccines are 66 percent effective against Delta—that’s nothing to scoff at. 2
Especially when you consider that the vaccines continue offering serious protection against hospitalization and death, even against this new and highly contagious version of the virus—at least, that’s the finding of a recent study.
Researchers followed frontline and essential workers across six states, all of whom received weekly COVID testing to ensure that even patients with mild or no symptoms were identified.
Among the more than 4,000 participants in this study, 83 percent were vaccinated. Between December 2020 and April 2021, the vaccines were around 90 percent effective in preventing COVID infection. And the number of new infections remained low even when the Delta variant emerged!
Plus, another published lab study—this one appearing in the journal Immunity—showed that the Delta variant did NOT outsmart most antibodies generated by people who had received the Pfizer vaccine.3 This would help to explain why vaccinated people managed to avoid the worst of the summer Delta surge.
Do I really need a booster shot?
Now for the burning question: What about booster shots? Well, I’m not exactly excited about getting one—and I’m sure you aren’t either. But I do agree they’re important for keeping antibodies high and on the ready. And the science bears this out.
U.K. researchers found that single doses of the Pfizer vaccine were less effective at neutralizing variant forms of the virus. But after the second dose, antibody responses increased dramatically, nearly to the same level of protection against the original strain of COVID.4
This suggests that additional boosts of the original vaccines will also increase your defenses against the Delta variant, as well as any other variants that might emerge in the months to come.
An easy way to help determine whether a booster shot may be right for you is by testing your antibodies to the spike protein unique to COVID. (That’s what I do with my patients. And you can ask your healthcare provider to do the same. In fact, I encourage you to discuss with your practitioner whether a booster shot may be effective for you.)
I’ve found that certain populations—most notably, my older patients and my patients with cancer—do not hold onto their antibodies for as long as those without those conditions. (The antibodies were still there, which is great news! They were just less robust.)
Needless to say, less robust antibody activity presents a science-supported reason to get in line for a booster shot as soon as it’s available.
Of course, I also understand deciding whether to get a booster is similar to deciding whether to get vaccinated in the first place. And the most lingering hesitation around getting any of the available vaccines probably goes well beyond whether or not they work. So, allow me to address those concerns as well…
Rigorous research shows vaccination is safe
For those concerned with mRNA technology, you have to remember that this technology has been around for over a decade.
Its use in humans is slightly newer, but Pfizer and Moderna are testing this technology for all sorts of things—including cancer.
As you may have also heard, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted full approval to the Pfizer vaccine. (And my guess is, Moderna’s full approval is soon to follow.) So anyone concerned about the Emergency Use Authorization that made these shots available at the beginning of the year can at least set that fear aside.
But for those who rely on hard, cold data, I’m pleased to announce that we finally have some: A new study of more than six million people showed no serious health risks with the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines (Pfizer or Moderna).5
This study looked at a range of serious risks: Acute myocardial infarction, Bell palsy, cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, Guillain-Barré syndrome, myocarditis/pericarditis, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, among others.
Granted, it only considered outcomes in the first six weeks after the shot—but that’s better than nothing. Plus, it analyzed way more data than most studies… and is probably the most rigorous post-marketing safety study we’ve seen with any drug or vaccine.
That alone should be reassuring for anyone who has received either of these mRNA vaccines, or who’s thinking about getting one.
Of course, as I mentioned above, a lot of focus has been directed to preventing coronavirus spread and infection. But that doesn’t mean the flu won’t make a comeback, despite COVID-19 being the season’s most pressing concern…
A word about the flu
If you recall, last year’s flu season was practically non-existent—record-setting, in fact, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting that only one percent of the tests administered came back positive, with a shockingly low 1,675 confirmed cases nationwide. (That’s compared with a 30 percent positive rate most years.)
But there are a few possible explanations for that. All of the precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19—mandatory masking, social distancing, school closures, and reduced travel—would also help prevent flu transmission.
Now, with restrictions loosened most everywhere, there’s no saying how this year’s flu season will pan out. That’s why you don’t want to let your guard down on this front, either.
And one of the simplest ways you can protect yourself—against the flu, common cold, and yes, the coronavirus—is by wearing a mask.
Don’t let your mask down
The arrival of COVID vaccines introduced some pretty dramatic reversals in masking policies this past summer. And depending on where you live, you may be wondering whether you should still be wearing one.
It’s important to note that ditching your mask was really only considered “safe” among the vaccinated population.
The fact is, we still don’t know much about COVID, or this year’s cold/flu viruses, and how they may progress. It’s increasingly clear that being vaccinated against COVID at least reduces transmission rates. But there are still breakthrough infections to consider. And as last year’s flu rates show, masks likely helped prevent the spread of that virus, too.
The way I see it, another few months of wearing a mask out in public isn’t going to kill me. Just remember, masks need to fit properly and contain quality filtration. (You must cover your nose, and the mask should go down below your chin.)
When in doubt, you can always layer on the protection, like I do. I actually wear three! And, of course, you can also add smart supplementation to your daily regimen, for added immune support. (See the sidebar on page 5 for my top recommendations.)
At the end of the day, this is a public health issue, and one that we’re ALL a part of. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t like for the common good—whether it’s getting vaccinated when/if you’re able, wearing a mask, or even staying home.
I can’t make these decisions for you. But I will continue to arm you with all of the information you need to know to choose wisely and protect yourself against any threat, year-round. The rest, as always, is up to you.
Boost your immunity with four superstar supplements
In addition to taking precautionary steps against the cold, flu, and coronavirus, many people want to keep their immune system firing on all cylinders. That’s where smart supplementation comes into play. Here’s what I recommend for year-round immune support…
1.) Vitamin D. This nutrient is key to a strong immune system. I advise having your vitamin D 25 OH blood level checked every six months. I consider optimal levels to be between 80 to 100 ng/mL—because that’s where all the health benefits kick in.
Then, I recommend a daily dose of at least 50 mcg (2,000 IU) to 125 mcg (5,000 IU) to maintain optimal levels. But for less-than-optimal blood levels, I recommend 250 mcg (10,000 IU) daily. (That’s how much I take daily myself, especially in the winter months.)
2.) BRM-4BioBran. This is a new product that I’m quite excited about. It’s also known as Rice Bran Arabinoxylan Concentrate (RBAC), and it’s one of my favorite supplements for immune support. I recommend 1,000 mg daily.
3.) Vitamin C. This tried-and-true vitamin remains a rock star—especially for your immune system. I recommend 1,000 mg of vitamin C, three times per day.
4.) Probiotics. I’ve said it before, but true health starts in the gut. Your gut is your second brain—and it’s another essential key to a healthy immune system. Look for a product that contains prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. Then, be sure to take it daily.
For additional immune health recommendations, I encourage you to check out my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. To learn more about this comprehensive guide, click here or call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV1XA00.
Specific symptoms that set COVID-19 apart
Before 2020, if you got a cough or a sore throat, you’d probably just assume it was a cold—maybe even the flu, if a fever followed. Nowadays, though, it’s vitally important to be able to distinguish between ordinary viruses and COVID-19.
The trouble is, less dangerous respiratory illnesses share a lot of the same symptoms with COVID-19—like fever, chills, cough, fatigue, sore throat, body aches, and headaches. So even “experts” can have a hard time telling them apart.
Plus, allergy seasons throw a wrench into things, too. (If you suffer from fall allergies, it’s likely you may already be experiencing some of these symptoms.) But it’s important to remember that allergies don’t cause a fever and chills… and COVID-19 doesn’t cause itchy, watery eyes.
Here are additional key indicators that could point you more definitively to a COVID-19 infection:
1.) Loss of taste and smell. Generally, we don’t see these symptoms with other viruses. Yes, a cold can blunt your sense of taste and smell. But typically, you’ll experience more rapid and dramatic losses of both with COVID-19.
2.) Chest pressure or pain, or severe headaches. COVID-19 has a unique impact on the blood vessels and can cause blood clots. So in addition to the more common symptoms listed above, you might also feel symptoms like chest pressure or pain, or a severe headache.
3.) Length of illness exceeds seven to 10 days. Most cold and flu symptoms will go away within a week to 10 days. Coronavirus symptoms, on the other hand, have been reported in some cases to linger for much longer.
At the end of the day, if you’re ever at all uncertain, the safest thing to do is to get a COVID-19 test.
- “’Gold Standard’ Study Confirms COVID mRNA Vaccines Prevent Infection.” Medscape Medical News, 07/21/2021.
- Fowlkes A,et al. “Effectiveness of COVID-19 Vaccines in Preventing SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Frontline Workers Before and During B.1.617.2 (Delta) Variant Predominance — Eight U.S. Locations, December 2020–August 2021.” MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:1167-1169. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7034e4external icon.
- Schmitz AJ, et al. “A vaccine-induced public antibody protects against SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants.”Immunity, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.immuni.2021.08.013
- Urbanowicz RA, et al. “Two doses of the SARS-CoV-2 BNT162b2 vaccine enhances antibody responses to variants in individuals with prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.”Science Translational Medicine, 2021; eabj0847 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abj0847
- Klein NP, et al. “Surveillance for Adverse Events After COVID-19 mRNA Vaccination.” JAMA.2021 Sep 3.doi: 10.1001/jama.2021.15072.