Morning Medical Update Friday 9-3-21

Media Resources

Jill Chadwick

News Director

Office: (913) 588-5013

Cell: (913) 223-3974


103 COVID patients at The University of Kansas Health System today. 55 have active infections compared to 54 yesterday. 16 are in the ICU with 12 on ventilators. Ten of the 55 are fully vaccinated, and those ten have significant health problems such as end stage liver disease, solid organ transplant, lung disease, diabetes and cancer.  There was one inpatient death yesterday. That patient was not vaccinated. 48 additional patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 39 yesterday. HaysMed has 11 patients today, down from 14 yesterday with nine active infections and one patient on a ventilator.

Vincent Racaniello, Phd, Higgins Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons joined today’s Update. Professor Racaniello is trained in virology and has done research on a variety of viruses from polio to zika to viruses that paralyze.  He wrote a book which began his blogging and podcasting efforts to quietly teach the world virology. “At heart I’m a teacher whether in the classroom, podcasting or streaming,” said Dr. Racaniello. He explained the importance of teaching what it means to say “vaccines work well”. He said first you must define what “work” means. Dr. Racaniello said COVID vaccines were tested to prevent people from getting seriously sick and dying from COVID viruses of all kinds. He said all vaccines work this way. “Still to this day, no matter what variant is involved the COVID vaccines will help save your life and prevent you from getting seriously ill.”  While Dr. Racaniello said researchers have not had time to determine if the delta variant causes more deadly disease, the research shows vaccines do prevent serious illness and death even from the delta strain. He did foresee a time, if more people continue to vaccinate that COVID will become like another cold or coronavirus, but that will take work and time. Until then, he encouraged vaccination for all who are of age and wearing masks.

Racaniello said the variants are evolving and are more virulent. He predicted there will be more variants to follow.  Dr. Racaniello believes the increase in patients including children are related to lack of vaccination and masking. “I think unless we see masking in schools, we will see even more cases of children getting sick,” he added. “We also don’t know what antibody level protectant is enough and until we have that we won’t know what is “good enough” in terms of understanding the need for future vaccinations and boosters. “Science takes a long time while a pandemic moves quickly and there-in lies the challenge,” he explained. As for the political argument that mask mandates infringe on personal freedoms, Dr. Racaniello said, “When you don’t get vaccinated and wear a mask, you are showing disrespect to others.”

            Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of infection prevention and control at The University of Kansas Health System agreed it gets confusing for general public to keep track of name changes for the vaccines as they graduate from emergency use authorization to full FDA approval. He added that the discussions around boosters for sub-populations such as elderly and immune suppressed also added to public confusion of how many vaccines are needed. “We are still in the throes of the evolution of Sars CO-v-2 and it will continue to evolve,” Dr. Hawkinsons said. “That evolution has however, enabled us to once again use monoclonal antibodies that were taken out of use until the delta variant become the dominant variant.” The doctr ask everyone to have a safe weekend and begin it with getting vaccinated.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System talked about a mask study out of Banglesdash that “puts nail in the anti-masking argument”.  The randomized study tracked 340,000 adults across rural Bangladesh. The results showed conclusive, real-world evidence that masking limits the spread of symptomatic COVID-19 disease according to the researchers. Dr. Stites pointed to an example closer to home of what can happen when the public ignores public health measures including masks. Removing mask mandates with low vaccination levels resulted in the rapid spread of the COVID virus and an overwhelming outbreak. Doctors speaking today agreed that everyone must recognize how human behavior and interaction is a key driver of the virus. “Trust the science,” Dr. Stites said. “Follow physician advice. When you have scientists all around the world saying the same thing and giving the same core message, they should be believed and trusted if you want to end this pandemic.”

Community Questions

Broadway shows will be returning to full audiences soon. Will masking be enough? We do need to get back to normal as soon as possible. Vaccines and masks work. Get back to life and do it safely. This is not forever. We do need to do vaccinate and mask until we get this virus under control.

How does this pandemic end? This pandemic ends with vaccination. It’s our job to help those countries who don’t have access to vaccine and to lead the world in getting in vaccinated as this is a global pandemic.

What will stop the delta variant? The pillars of infection prevention and control, and vaccines.

Is delta different? Yes. There are different properties within this virus that cause serious disease. Doctors said people should not worry so much about the difference in this variant, but rather go get vaccinated as vaccines offer protection against serious illness and death.

What have we learned from flu? Decades upon decades of study shows us the power of vaccination, even when some flu viruses affect us more than others like the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic.

Does ivermectin save lives? Ivermectin offers protection against parasites. COVID, however, is NOT caused by parasties. COVID is caused by a virus. Ivermectin does not work to treat COVID.

What does the percentage of effectiveness mean when talking about vaccines? The percentage means most people will have protection, but some will not be as protected. Human vaccines suppress transmission. They work and can help get us toward herd immunity.

What role do politicians play in public health? Dr. Rancaniello says politicians should listen to doctors and follow the advice of public health officials to ensure the public is safe.

No Update Labor Day Monday. Next Update Tuesday, Sept.7, 2021 Friday, September 3 at 8:00 a.m. Palliative care physician, Dr. Karin Porter-Williamson joins to share the toll on families, care givers, medical staff and the community as deaths from COVID continue in a time of vaccination.


NOTE:  Journalists should rejoin the Morning Medical Update at 8am as doctors are growing too busy again for individual interview requests.  Please bring questions or send to until further notice.  Thanks for all you do and helping to keep the community safe with your reporting.

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