BACK STORY With DANA LEWIS

REVOLUTION IRAN, AND COVID VARIANTS

October 19, 2022 Dana Lewis Season 5 Episode 6
REVOLUTION IRAN, AND COVID VARIANTS
BACK STORY With DANA LEWIS
More Info
BACK STORY With DANA LEWIS
REVOLUTION IRAN, AND COVID VARIANTS
Oct 19, 2022 Season 5 Episode 6
Dana Lewis

On this Back Story experts say Iran's weeks of unrest mean the regime may be finished. There are rumours of Revolutionary Guard defections. The religious clerics can't cleat the streets and Iranians chant death to the Ayatollah.
Back Story's Dana Lewis talks to Ramesh Sepehrad.

And the pandemic didn't disappear. 
Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigal-Ding is critical of the CDC for being late to announce variants that are challenging vaccines.  He predicts a tough winter ahead as Covid 19 spreads again.

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Show Notes Transcript

On this Back Story experts say Iran's weeks of unrest mean the regime may be finished. There are rumours of Revolutionary Guard defections. The religious clerics can't cleat the streets and Iranians chant death to the Ayatollah.
Back Story's Dana Lewis talks to Ramesh Sepehrad.

And the pandemic didn't disappear. 
Epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigal-Ding is critical of the CDC for being late to announce variants that are challenging vaccines.  He predicts a tough winter ahead as Covid 19 spreads again.

Support the Show.

Speaker 1:

But this time, uh, the people of Iran are in the streets. The people of Iran are not backing down. The people of Iran are very, very clear with their political message, which is death to harmony, death to dictatorship. And these are critical, uh, indicators for us to pay attention to determine why is different this time.

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone, and welcome to another edition of backstory. I'm Dana Lewis. This week for a change, we put Ukraine on the back burner, even though what's happening there is moving fast and in perilous ways. But I wanna talk about Iran again, starting in Kurdistan province, but quickly spreading nationwide. The protests have increased in size, scope, and sophistication. The regime has responded brutally, but the religious leaders of Iran also seemed paralyzed by the demonstrations. Even this week, a female Iranian climber who competed in an international tournament without a hijab did so because her head scarf had dropped by mistake. She said on her Instagram account footage of Al Nas Rabi, 33 years old, scaling a wall without her head covered during an international tournament went viral coming amid big female led demonstrations against Iran's clerical rulers sparked by strict Islamic rules on women's clothing. In a moment, we speak to Rames Sapra and ask, Will these protests bring about the downfall of the iatola and his regime in Iran? And you forgot about it, but the pandemic didn't forget about you. C 19 is spreading. Again, new variants known one as BQ one and BQ 11 are rapidly taking over other variants, filling hospital beds. And as Dr. Eric Fading will tell you, they are escape variants, meaning they will not be taken down by a vaccine unless they are the very latest of boosters unavailable, by the way, in most countries. Dr. Rames Sapra joins me from Washington. She's a scholar in peace and conflict, and she's the advisory chair of the largest Iranian American organization. Welcome.

Speaker 1:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Speaker 2:

There's a new wave of anti regime protests sparked over the brutal killing of, uh, Masa Amini. Um, and some of the numbers now say that it's reached 170 cities. More than 400 protestors have been killed in nearly 20,000 arrested. Those are all estimates, and neither you nor I are any Iran, so it's hard to know exactly what's going on in the street. But how would you assess the, the tempo and the ferocity of the, of the street protest now calling for regime change?

Speaker 1:

So I think, um, we have to kind of look at these latest waves of protests, uh, which in fact, the chance from inside Iran, uh, are saying these are not protests. This is a revolution, uh, has some very significant characteristic, um, whether you look at it from a, um, just an average citizen's perspective or a political scientist perspective. And I think that's, uh, it's really an opportunity for us to pause and think about where the people are Iran are going with their message. One of the main characteristic is obviously even though that these, uh, protests, uh, which is now within its fifth week, uh, started, uh, over the brutal killing of Ma Armenian custody, the way the society responded to that news, um, is, uh, demonstrate is the, is demonstrative of how explosive the Iranian society has been, because there has been killing in the last 43 years. Uh, there was the killing of Netta Ultan. There was the killing of, uh, several other protestors, and in fact, 1500 protestors in 2019. But this time, uh, the people of Iran are in the streets. The people of Iran are not backing down. The people of Iran are very, very clear with their political message, which is death to harmony, death to dictatorship. And these are critical, uh, indicators for us to pay attention to determine why it's different this time. I think, um, it's very, very clear that the Iranian people, especially the younger generation, the Gen Z uh, Zers, are saying that, um, we want this regime gone. We want the end of how's dictatorship, and what we want is freedom. Another popular, uh, chant in Iran is freedom, freedom, freedom. Um, in fact, the chant is, what do we say? And then the crowd always responds, Freedom, freedom, freedom. So there is a clear statement of what the problem is, which is how many, how is dictatorship and what the solution is. And that is the freedom. So whether we wanna really look at it from a statistics perspective of how many people have been arrested or, or, or killed, or from the message that's coming from Iran, The, the, the overall perspective, a word protests, and the uprising and what the Iranian people are calling Revolution is leading is to the downfall of the regime and the freedom that the Iranian people desire.

Speaker 2:

Okay? That's the desire, but I mean, it's important to pay attention to the arrests and those detained and those killed, um, because it shows whether the security services are controlling the street and continue to do so. Right? So in a speech on Friday, I I had told Herman said that the Islamic Revolution had given birth to an unshakeable state that seedling has turned today into a mighty tree, and no one should dare to think that they can uproot it. I mean, he does not seem shaken or stirred, um, and seems to feel that these demonstrations will just go away.

Speaker 1:

Well, of course he will, as any other dictator. If you look at throughout the history, any dictator, including, um, you know, people like Hitler until the very last day, they were still confident and they were still conveyed this message of not being shaken. But when you think about the recent, uh, the Friday evening's attack, um, um, leading into the Saturday morning in Iran's time against the notorious Evan Prison, which was regime instigated attack, and it was their plot to massacre political prisoners. The very people that were arrested in recent, uh, uprising were also in Evan are also in e prison.

Speaker 2:

I, I wanna let you finish, but I mean, that prison is notable, right? Because that's where, um, it is supposedly one of the most brutal places that you can be sent. And it generally is where the, the fiercest political opposition is sent. Political prisoners are sent to that prison, and often some of them don't come out.

Speaker 1:

That's right. I mean, this is a prison that has been notorious for, uh, um, more than two regimes, I must say. It was notorious during the PBIS era under the show, with the political prisoners being tortured and executed there, as well as obviously the, the, uh, elevation of the number of, uh, executions and tortures under the current regime, the theocracy of monoliths. So these attacks on Evan Prison is a clear indication of how frightened the regime is, because this is, even though they're tried to kinda, uh, portrayed as a, as a, or their official narrative is, Oh, there was a fire that broke out. There was some conflict or clashes among the prisoners. Well, um, if that were the true, then explain the gunshots, then explain the families that are outside the pr uh, the prison that are, uh, chanting death to Harmony, explain the protestor, the prisoners inside the prison, chanting death to dictatorship, death to harmony. So clearly, um, this is a major indication of how frightened harmony is. And, and his rhetoric on Friday was literally, uh, designed to give his demoralized a CG or I R G C thugs, um, and, and, you know, motivate them to go back out there and kill more people. So I think, um, there are other reports coming from Iran that the incident, uh, have been present is also being repeated across the other main prisons, uh, in other cities in Iran. Uh, just this morning, I think I had a message that now it is in the city of, uh, carriage. Uh, the inmate at Kaza Hisar Prison are protesting, uh, with chance to death to Harmony, and 50 members of the anti right, uh, unit are at the scene in prison. And again, this is knowing this regime, I think the regime is preparing for another massacre of political prisoners just as what they did in 1988. And, um, obviously, um, they're afraid of what's happening in the streets of Iran during the protests across. In fact, the number of cities has gone up to 190 cities and towns in Iran, and now they want to really massacre the political prisoners, and this is the way of solving their problem. But the fact is that the people of Iran are not backing down the resistance inside the prison, uh, clearly demonstrate that this regime is, um, not even effective inside the prison with the people that they have in custody. Can you,

Speaker 2:

So can you talk to the state? You mentioned the revolutionary guards. Can you talk to the staying power of, you know, I mean this is home romania's muscle, right? How many muscle, um, their, their power, their wealth, their survival depends on the survival of the system. They are brutal. They have killed many Iranians in the past and are prepared to do anything. There is nothing that I understand indicates any of that buckling. I mean, there are no defections as far as we're hearing, and I understand it's hard to hear if there were, but there are no defections. I mean, they are standing like a rock right now in the system. And how do people remove them in order to re, to remove the regime because the regime stands behind the revolutionary guards?

Speaker 1:

Well, um, I think the message and what I'm monitoring coming from inside Iran, Dana, it's, it's speaking to a different, uh, posture of IR gc. I have seen reports coming from inside Iran and clips and even audio recording between the dispatch of the IR gc, uh, forces as they're trying to crush and, and crack down on the people. And they're all desperate. They, or is it is a sign of desperation, fatigue, exhaustion, and, and very demoralized. I think, uh, one of the, uh, le um, lead ir g commanders in Tehran was saying that, uh, you know, if if this neighborhood of Tehran rises up, uh, we will be finished. We will be done. So, and, and I think they realize that obviously Tehran is their stronghold. They realize that they can't be dispatching IR GC and their, uh, core, uh, I guess, um, committed IR GC because, you know, there are layers within IR gc, those are in there for just the paycheck. Those are in there that are, um, in the, in the more of a administrative and management of it. And those are in there that are very core, uh, ideal ideologues that are, um, you know, protectors of harms dictatorship. So we are seeing crackdown within the irgc. We are seeing a defection, uh, not from, um, uh, not from the top layer, which is not that many of them, but also from the lower layers. And, and I think the other,

Speaker 2:

What, what, what do you base that on? If, if I can just ask, You're saying you're seeing defections, is that, what's that based on?

Speaker 1:

So some of the, some of the news that's coming from inside Iran is, uh, how they're moving their money around how they're trying to buy properties in, in countries like Turkey and other countries, so that they're trying to get their families out of Iran and, and how they're essentially turning on each other. There's a lot of debate within I R G C that is the path of crackdown, the right path for us, because the more we crack down, the more uprising, uh, it causes. So, so I think the that in that, uh, you know, fraction interesting within the I R GC ranks and the political ranks, uh, you know, Laurie Johnny is on record who used to be the beloved, you know, Laurie, Johnny Brothers, uh, allies of harmony. Um, and he's, he's also the, the person who was eliminated in favor of brai to, uh, to become Iran's current president. So, so all of those in fighting, all of those factionalization, all of those fraction is really coming to surface and it's really tearing the regime apart from within. So I think if you look at some of those indicators, you really do see that at the house of card, the TO has, has set up even with the facade and, and the image of the brutal and the solid power of the I R gc. It's really nothing but, but a house of card and it is not sustaining, its, its facade in the light of ongoing protests and ongoing pressure. Um, and I think one other point that I'd like to make in terms of how do we help the people of Iran's, uh, Iran, especially with, uh, harms rhetoric and the IR GCs, um, image of, uh, having the tight control on Iran is the international pressure. Okay.

Speaker 2:

And you've written about that, and I was, I've read your latest article where you really feel that the US is not doing what it should, that Washington has been kind of soft ping support, and you feel that they should come out, you know, much stronger. And you mentioned, uh, and nuclear negotiations with Iran expand and enforce existing US sanctions, especially, um, in light of the prison, the, the prison massacre impose travel bans on regime officials and families freeze their assets in the us I, I thought that had already been done, quite frankly, but promote global campaign to close Iranian embassies and urge allies to recall their ambassadors and publicly press for the release of all political prisoners. I mean, in, in general though, I mean, a lot of that seems to me that it, it has been done, has it not. I mean, obviously ending nuclear negotiations is a much bigger step.

Speaker 1:

So I think what we are not hearing from the White House is a clear message that we stand with the Iranian people and recognize the right to overthrow this regime and to self defense the people of Iran deserve and reserve the right to overthrow this regime. What Washington like to hide behind is regime change is not our policy. That is not what the Iranian people are asking to bring boots on the ground to change the regime for us. Iranian people are in the streets chanting death to dictators, young old men, women are in the streets dying, sacrificing to bring this regime down. And they deserve the right to self defensee against the bullets of the I R G C and to overthrow decision that is a very clear public and a political statement that Washington can make that could really go a long, long way. Why does that

Speaker 2:

Happen? I mean, it seems to me, it just seems symbolic to me. If, if you say, you know, make a statement that you support the people in the street, I mean, tho those statements to a degree have been made by various US officials, including President Biden W was sympathetic over the weekend. But I mean, wh why did those statements really help the people in Iran who are out there fighting the Revolutionary Guard?

Speaker 1:

So there are, there are two things. One is the statements have been made, but it hasn't been concise. For example, there has been a statement made that we stand with the Iranian women marching in the streets fighting for their rights. This is not a protest that women are fighting for their rights. This is a protest that is calling for the downfall of this regime. Let's be very clear on our message. Two, I think from the impact of Washington, that could essentially lead to a global campaign to isolate the regime, just like the way the world community isolated the apartheid regime in South Africa. It would really have its more momentous and, and, and support in a public sp sphere where people of Iran essentially will gain the confidence that yes, Iran is not, this regime is essentially rejected by the world community. I mean, back

Speaker 2:

In us, we, we've seen these demonstrations before, though, right now you That's right. Obviously feel that this is different this time, that this, the intensity, the lengths of time that they've been taking place, um, your measure of how exhausted Iranians are with the regime, how thirsty they are for change, that it's different this time. Yes. And that if the West doesn't seize this moment together with Iranians, uh, they will have missed the chance to end this brutal regime in Iran. You, you really feel that the West has to seize this moment as well as the people in the street in Iran?

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Absolutely. And let me tell you why. If you look at, um, during the 1980s when there was massive uprising within, literally within two years of the 79 revolution that led, you know, it was massive uprising by major opposition groups, among them, Mujahid Health, the mek, and then the establishment of the National Council of Resistance, and the terrors and the executions that also led to the massacre of the 1988 Iranian regime was able to crack down and really suppress the society on two front, both on a political front, but also on a social front. Because of the Iran Iraq war during the 1990s, the regime turned into the, um, terrorism in an international space and killing the opponents outside. But yet we still had massive student uprising inside Tehran's universities and other universities. Again, another crackdown during the 2000, 2002, 2003, all the way to 2009, we had massive uprising, whether it was in the universities or it was in 2009, that was after the elections. That particular uprising started with, where is my vote to down with harmony down with dictatorship. And now what we look at in 2019, sorry, in 20 18, 20 19, even in 2020 during the pandemic, and now in 2022, the length of these massive nationwide uprising is getting closer and closer, and the frequency is picking up and the message, it's no longer over economic grievances or just social grievances, it's also political grievances. So it's all of the above. And the engagement of all of the social sectors, women, youth, labor, movement, uh, teachers union, student movement, it's all coming together. And I think this is why this time is different. Just a few days ago, I ran into, um, a video clip by President Obama who chose not to stand with the people of Iran in 2009 when people were in the streets towards the end saying, down with harmony, down with dictator. And he said, in retrospect, that was a mistake. In retrospect, we should have declared our solidarity. We should have been clear with our message. That is why this time is very, very important. And in fact, I think the international community owes it to their own respective national security to stand with the people of Iran that would end this regime. And the desire of the Iranian people is a non-nuclear secular republic of Iran that stands on gender equality, um, freedom of press fair and free elections, modern judicial system, coexistence with the neighbor, free market economy, all of those things. In terms of a future free Iran, it's also in the interest of the Middle East as a region interests of the national security of America as a country, and also peace and stability and security for Europe. So there is, the moment is ripe. The situation is ripe, The people are in the street. And that political support for the movement inside Iran and Iran's main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, is critical in this moment. So that the Iranian regime understands the com, the world international community is done with them, and they're standing with the people of Iran,

Speaker 2:

Dr. Rames Saad, you're full of hope and you're very optimistic. And I, I think a lot of people find that, you know, perspective really important right now because I, I think you, you're showing in a lot of, a lot of ways that this is just not another, another, another uprising or chapter or more street protests, uh, that we're in a very different chapter this time. So thank you so much for your perspective, and I, it's great to talk to you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for having me. You appreciate it.

Speaker 2:

All right. And now to covid, Eric Fel ding is an outspoken epidemiologist. Eric, I hope you don't mind that. Based in Washington, uh, who has really been recently ringing alarm bells about c ringing them again and ringing them even now when a lot of people have forgotten about it higher. Hi, that's,

Speaker 1:

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

Tell me, I am reading your tweets, uh, last week's scoop. Mother of God just got this leak, which I wanna talk about more from the CDC insider source. It seems that covid variants are worse than the CDC has been admitting. The, the new highly evasive B Q one and B Q 11 sub variants are surging over 11%, but the CDC has not shared it yet. You seem to be saying, first of all, that the, the Center for Disease Control is covering up information on a covid surge that is just beginning. Is that fair?

Speaker 3:

Well, I didn't exactly say covering up, it's, I'll be generous. And I'll say they've been very, I'll say, uh, they'll been very delict and, and slow, uh, in reacting to the surging variants because these BQ variants have been like on the radar of scientists for well over a month. Like we gave them the name Uhon and Severus like over a month ago because we knew these are two of the most highly evasive immune escaping evasive variants that's been ever tested in the lab. Um, and so we're really worried and the fact that, you know, we, the CDC has a standing policy, internal policy of, of basic, uh, breaking out and declaring any variant that's surging above 1%. And the thing is, like up until like Thursday, uh, the CDC website had nothing, uh, about the BQs. It had nothing, and all of a sudden the next day it was 11%. It didn't go from like zero to 11% overnight, and they had to like backfill a whole three or four weeks that shows it was surging for three or four weeks. Right.

Speaker 2:

You didn't use the word coverup to, to be fair, but you

Speaker 3:

Did say,

Speaker 2:

I cannot describe,

Speaker 3:

But it's, it's just been very, very disappointing. Let

Speaker 2:

Me read the tweet. I cannot describe just how mad I am at this disaster. The CDC seems to be holding onto this data, Can it be true? Why did this data have to leak to me from insider sources? It's so bad. I mean, you do seem to be saying that there's an intention to suppress information there. And again, that's my character. I

Speaker 3:

Think I'm not, I can't exactly, uh, express intention, but it's, it's an extreme amount of disappointment. And there's, let's just say there's an extreme amount of anger and emotion around what the hell, how the hell did this sneak up on us to go from not over 1%, but to 11% out of completely nothing in the prior weeks, Right? And um, and I think that's why the, the source, uh, you know, released it to me because that person was very, very frustrated of how the hell did we get here? Um, you know, I'm, I'm basically told that, you know, the CDC last week when asked is there any BQ variants? They said, No, nothing here, nothing here to see, nothing on the reports. And then all of a sudden 11% that doesn't happen. Uh, you know, just by pure accident or that doesn't happen if people were competent, right? Yes. And and this is where the, the, the sheer, we know that we're approaching this winter surge. We know there's dozens and dozens of variants out, and we know these two bearings are two of the worst. I would say these are of all them, they're number two and number three of the all time worst variants in terms of evasiveness. And we have been completely dropping the ball. And that's what's so frustrating.

Speaker 2:

Okay, let, let's get past the CDC process, which I think you already have, and, and talk about what, what should the, the CDC be doing and, and which is obviously telling people as quickly and as openly as possible about this. And what, what result are you looking for out of that? I mean, you're saying that these variants are worse than any of the other ones that we've seen. And then what does that mean? Does that mean we're heading back the

Speaker 3:

Lock

Speaker 2:

Downs? And, uh,

Speaker 3:

I'm not saying that at all. What I'm saying is, first of all, these are so evasive that monoclonal antibody drugs, just according to lab studies, do not work against them. The, even the FDA has warned that some of the monoclonal antibodies stop are, aren't just, just aren't working against these variants anymore. Cause these mono antibodies were designed many, many years ago, uh, a long time ago. And also for vaccines, it means that you need the new B five bivalent. Now the B five biva is commonly available in the US and in Canada they have both the BA one bivalent and the B five bivalent. Uh, because BQ one and BQ elevens are subtypes of BA five, and the lab studies showed that they're still sufficiently good, I think. But the BA uh, five by Vallance is not available in the U uk. If, if I understand

Speaker 2:

Correct, tell me, what did I, and I hate to interrupt you, but you, you run through a lot of information really quickly cuz you, you know, this stuff so well and for us dummies, you gotta slow down a little bit. So I, on October the sixth, just two weeks ago now, less than that, I got a booster here in London called Spike VAX Moderna Biotech Spain. Um, is that the booster I'm supposed to be getting?

Speaker 3:

Uh, so the modern and Pfizer both make the original, the BA one and the b a five. The UK to my understanding, gives out the BA one by Val. It's an older by Val, so it's an Aron, but it's an older Aron that's now extinct. B one does not exist anymore.

Speaker 2:

I thought this was a newer booster.

Speaker 3:

Yes, the UK does not have the New West. The BA one is a new word, but not the New West. And the issue is that there was a debate earlier this summer of a, we, we had done a lot of trials on the BA one booster shot. So should we roll it out? It looked very good in the human trials. Should we roll it out or should we update it for the B five and then roll it out? UK decided to go ahead and roll out the B one and UK rolled it out ahead of the us but us decided to wait another month and roll out the BA five variant booster, which is the more dominant common worldwide strain that's not extinct. BA one is already extinct and, and Fauci and others had made a tough decision say, No, let's just hold off for one more month and, and develop the BA five booster. And that's what does my

Speaker 2:

Boost to do for me.

Speaker 3:

So this is the open question. BA one is a more older variant, not the oldest. The, it's not the oldest Wuhan. Um, I'm not selling people not to get it because I think getting that is better than, you know, not getting a booster at all. But, um, I think, uh, the UK government needs to recognize that you need to give out the B five. Like Germany is now starting to roll out the B five soon, I believe. Um, Canada is as well US has been exclusively offering the B five US is offer also offering the B five by valence to children now five and up. So children now can get, get that booster five years and up. But in the UK I understand that's still not available, not to mention boosters for kids. So I think UK is very behind the ball right now compared to many other countries. And BQs are subtypes of b a five branch. So you need to be a five to be adequately protected, I believe.

Speaker 2:

Now you tell me I'm supposed to be interviewing you more often, so I don't get needles. I don't,

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, if you put me in charge of UK vaccine response, I can, you know, shake up a few things here and there, but I can, let's

Speaker 2:

Do much. I, So, so here we are. I mean, there's a, we, this podcast talks to a lot of people all over the world. So there are different vaccines that are out there. Some of them older, some of them newer, and, but you know, here we are. Like that was the fourth needle I've had in my arm now, right? Cause I had the vaccine the first the second, the booster, another booster. And now it looks like the booster I got isn't gonna do much compared to the newer booster.

Speaker 3:

Well, it's, it's gonna protect you more, It will definitely protect you more. I mean, it's definitely more, it's in the

Speaker 2:

How many needles am I supposed to get? And, and people don't want to keep taking vaccines.

Speaker 3:

Well, first of all, flu shot, you're supposed to get a flu shot every year. And, um, and that's completely normal. Look, pro an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. Don't say, Oh, how many needles? Like, oh, why do I have to brush my teeth all the time? I just wanna brush my teeth once and not have to do it again. Right? No, that's not, it's, it's a, it's a method of prevention. Ugh, why do I have to exercise again? I just exercise last month<laugh>, you

Speaker 2:

Know? Yeah. This is putting something alien in my body, which I I'm told is safe

Speaker 3:

Is it's safe. And, and, and plus by the way, you, you eat, take pop multivitamins, you can say the mul popping multivitamins is alien. Like, if you wanna make a scary sounding, you can, but it's not, it's not inherently. No.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I, and, and I don't name to, because I do take the vaccines and, and you end up taking vaccines,

Speaker 3:

Antibiotics, you know, you know, all these ibuprofen, uh, you know, acetaminophen, uh, parasol, like all these are, you know, foreign. These are drugs. And inherently they're not always bad. And, you know, vaccines have been well tested, flu vaccine, by the way. Some people say that the new vaccine wasn't tested enough. There is this eight mica, uh, rumor that's rooming around thero. Um, bivalent vaccines have been tested in thousands of people. It has been that tested thousands of people, um, and including the one that you just took. So I think, you know, that is very ridiculous claim. And it's the same update method as the flu we see with a variant or circulating with the flu. Each year we update it and we roll it out to hundreds of millions of people. And again, children get, um, shots, children get booster shots. TEUs, you have to get it once every 10 years, uh, depending on the country, right? So like, these are completely normal. People shouldn't see it as like some, ugh, again, and, and hopefully we're developing nasal vaccines that will be much more effective against infection onset, um, versus just the, the muscular vaccines that we are getting now. Uh, so that's on the horizon. And I think I have a lot of hope for these nasal vaccines. Um, so I'm, I'm, I'm thinking like in the, we're probably at halftime in terms of this pandemic. We have the initial, you know, defense setup. But to truly win the game, aga win this pandemic and stop it, we can't let up now because if we let

Speaker 2:

It up, it's so important before

Speaker 3:

The end race is over, you know, you're gonna lose.

Speaker 2:

It's so important what you're saying because a lot of people think it's kind of done and you're saying we're at halftime. So what is the risk if we don't stay on top of it in the second half?

Speaker 3:

Well, the risk is that as you infected more and more, uh, you have a higher and higher risk of adverse events of long covid that's just, uh, published recently in the latest studies. The more infections, you know, your, your symptoms of cardiovascular risk, your cognitive decline, uh, it's higher with each additional infection that you have, um, that you recover from. And that's not something you want, You don't wanna bioaccumulate more infections, like infection upon infection is not a thing you want. But at this rate in which we let the virus spread to hundreds of millions and billions of people, the virus will evolve more variants. And if you don't stop the transmission, if you just say, Oh, we're stopping hospitalization, you know, which by the way, uk uh, hospital hospitalizations are pretty high right now. Uh, and hospitals are, uh, NHS is pretty overloaded. Um, and so is Germany, by the way. Um, and Germany's ICU is like a 90% capacity as well. You know, just saying, Oh, you know, we just need to keep our hospitalizations down and deaths down. That is not a method of prevention whatsoever. Like, just cause hospitals are not full, which they are actually right now. You don't say, Oh, today drunken driving is okay today. You don't need to wear a seatbelt today. You don't need to wear a bike helmet. No, that's not how it works. You wanna stop the onset of in the first place. And unlike these seatbelt, uh, you know, you know, bike helmet examples, these, if the more you let it transmit a virus is different because the more you let it transmit, the more it's gonna evolve. Variants, they're all evade and then you're gonna, it's this arms race. You're gonna further fall back on this arms race and then get infected more. The end of the pandemic is to reduce infections and transmission. And that's why combination of masks, which I know a lot of people don't wanna wear it, but ventilation, air disinfection ventilation, air disinfection should be completely apolitical, right? It's not, you're not putting anything in your body. You're not putting something on your face. It is simply fresh air and disinfect and filter the air. It is not that hard. It is not that politically, uh, e loaded. It is not behaviorally, uh, you know, uh, um, onerous in any way. It should be the cornerstone. Yet we do not invest in these. Um, but just like we should invest in bike helmets and bike lanes and other, you know, safety precautions that we have in everyday life, we somehow just, you know, just, you know, this thing is way too inconvenient and we just, if it's too inconvenient, we're just gonna have to like live with it. And living with covid is really, really a horrible idea for society.

Speaker 2:

Last question to you. What kind of winter do you think is looming out there? Just, just not for the US but for Europe and elsewhere?

Speaker 3:

I think, and you look at how it's a bad winter's.

Speaker 2:

Very,

Speaker 3:

Yeah, because it's not just covid, we're gonna get a double or triple whammy of Covid plus really bad flute plus rsv. Um, as well as there's a new, uh, in antivirus, uh, going around, uh, as well. So I think it's gonna be pretty bad because we know the flu season, uh, is, was really, really bad in Australia. The peak was much higher than ever were recorded. It's also starting in, uh, in, uh, Europe and North America much earlier than normal season. Normally the flu season is December, late November, December, it's already r at the same December level already now in October. And so that's what worries me. What, what the, what the winter will bring. Um, I think this walk down, it's gonna be a, it's gonna be a confluence of all these different things together that's gonna bring a really tough winter. And I think workers healthcare worker burnouts and shortages is only gonna further exacerbate waiting times and clinical care

Speaker 2:

D governments won't do lockdowns. They, they, we won't go back to what the, the

Speaker 3:

Last, I don't think they're gonna do lockdowns. Well, there's, before you do lockdowns, you know, lockdowns is like the last resort in which you shouldn't get there. If you have other mitigations in place, you don't need to do lockdowns. Um, and you shouldn't have to, you should not have to do them if you do all these other mitigations, right? Like, uh, mental ventilation, air disinfection masks, premium masks, um, and vaccines are obviously, vaccines alone is not gonna stop a transmission given all the variants. But if you multilayer them together and, and do testing contract tracing, you can stop the transmission off. But we're not doing them anymore. UK has stopped giving out free testing, right? Quarantine, isolation, I believe is kind of like a joke now. Um, you know, we do not have masks in schools in, uh, in, in many places still. And, um, you know,

Speaker 2:

My kids don't have mask, they

Speaker 3:

Don't have, is is a very privileged thing. Only if, if some principal teachers or parents are very aggressive in getting them installed in your local schools. But otherwise, you know, most schools don't have ventilation, air disinfection.

Speaker 2:

A lot of people think because the vaccines have been given out that that's it and that they don't need to pay much attention to, to this anymore.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I feel like people have a very short attention span. People hope that it's, uh, oh, this inconvenient thing. Just do the mid bear minimum and move on. You know, this is how we kind of ignore climate change. Uh, climate change is, uh, clear and present danger. Oh, but it's in 50 years. Oh, it's in a hundred years. Oh, it's, it's not my current problem right now. And let's just sweep it under rug. People too often have a sweeper under rug attitude and governments and leaders have a, Oh, let's just, let's just, you know, show people that we're doing some stuff until the next election. We just need, you know, give per perception that we're winning, uh, this covid fight until the next election. And, and I think that's a very dishonest, disingenuous way of, uh, leading society.

Speaker 2:

Eric Faling, always great to talk to you, Eric. Thank you some very, very much.

Speaker 3:

Thanks, Dana. Take care. And

Speaker 2:

That's our backstory podcast this week. Thanks for listening. Thanks to Dr. Eric Fel ding and on Iran Rames Epra. I'm Dana Lewis and I'll talk to you again soon.