Vaccination remains the best way to fight covid – Infectious Disease Specialist
February 22, 2022

Vaccination remains the best way to fight covid – Infectious Disease Specialist

Vaccination is the best way to fight COVID-19 as the virus in an unvaccinated persons sometimes causes the immune system to react in a way that is akin to using a machine gun to kill a fly. 

This is according to Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Jerrol Thompson who said on Sunday that the virus causes the immune system to react with something called a cytokine storm, therefore it has the ability to kill even healthy persons.  

He was speaking on the “Issue at Hand” programme on WEFM where he was addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and why vaccination is the best way to fight the virus that has so far killed, 105 people in St Vincent and the Grenadines and more than 5.89 million worldwide.  

The National Cancer Institute in the United States (US) notes that a cytokine storm is a severe immune reaction in which the body releases too many cytokines into the blood too quickly.  

“Cytokines play an important role in normal immune responses, but having a large amount of them released in the body all at once can be harmful. A cytokine storm can occur as a result of an infection, autoimmune condition, or other disease.  

“Signs and symptoms include high fever, inflammation (redness and swelling), and severe fatigue and nausea. Sometimes, a cytokine storm may be severe or life threatening and lead to multiple organ failure,” says the National Cancer Institute on their website.  

Dr. Thompson said local health practitioners have been met with several issues when trying to explain to persons how COVID-19 kills a person and why vaccination is the best way to fight the virus.  

He said concerns are about four issues: prevention (one); and then when one catches the virus, they are then worried about if the infection causes severe illnesses, (two); and then if this severe illness results in hospitalisation or admission to an Intensive Care Unit (three); and then eventually death (four).  

“It is the last three issues that is of greatest concern and vaccination has prevented these…” Dr. Thomson stressed while adding that the greater percentage of persons who have died in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) were not vaccinated and these deaths could have been prevented by simply taking one of the four vaccines available locally.  

He said the belief is that a COVID-19 infection can only overwhelm a person whose immune system is low or deficient. The doctor said it is true that patients like diabetics whose condition is poorly controlled, an HIV patient, or people on steroids have a deficient immune system and are very problematic cases but healthy persons can also have serious issues.  

“…but the real problems comes not because the immune system is low or the body is deficient but it is in the way in which our immune system responds to the virus because a body has not seen this virus before…our normal immune system throws everything at the virus…and there is an overreaction of the immune system, a cytokine storm, and when we try to talk about this subject we lose people… Dr. Thompson said.  

He described the storm as someone seeing a fly on a wall and taking a machine gun and firing at the insect only to miss the creature and hit everything around it. 

The medical doctor said it is not that the immune system is deficient but a normal immune system overreacts to the virus, then there is collateral damage to normal tissue and organs like the heart and the lungs.  

“That is what is taking place and causing death…” Dr. Thompson said while adding that a diabetic or hypertensive person whose condition is well controlled but has been sick “for the last 50 years” may have some damage to the heart and other organs and therefore cannot handle the cytokine storm.  

“There is collateral damage and it puts them in ICU and that is why we see problems. We see this cytokine storm also with dengue,” the specialist explained. 

He said this type of reaction is occurring in persons with good immune systems but persons who have been vaccinated and boosted have the antibodies to target the virus and that helps to kill the virus before the immune system goes into a cytokine storm.

“…and that is why we seeing

a vaccinated person can be infected but not a severe infection and death outside of a few persons with severe underlying conditions,” Dr. Thompson explained.