By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There is a TV ad that has the statement “People in horror movies make poor decisions!” The idea is that if you use the advertiser’s product it will be a good decision.

However, we all know that the statement is true. We have all seen the movie where someone goes down into the dark basement.

We have all seen the movie where someone hears a strange noise and decides to check. We sit there and wonder why people do those things.

Suppose we were watching a horror movie about zombies. We would not understand why people would take foolish chances.

They might become infected. They might become a zombie themselves.

Well we are currently acting out a real life infection. It will not make us a zombie. However, it will kill us.

For that reason we should not take foolish chances.

The most foolish thing we can do this week is have a big Thanksgiving gathering of people. We would put a group of people indoors. They will spend hours together. They will have masks off while eating and drinking.

If this were a horror movie, we would be yelling at the TV screen.

What is really ironic is that this holiday celebrates the first Thanksgiving. That Thanksgiving was a celebration of the 50 percent of the Pilgrims who had survived the first year. The attendees included 22 men, 4 women and more than 25 children and teenagers.

The rest of the adult women had died of disease during the year. Of the ones who had traveled on the Mayflower, 78 percent of the women had died.

Most of them had died of disease.

So here we are 399 years later looking at celebrating a holiday that was the result of the survival of colonists from a winter of disease.

History now has a chance to repeat itself.

It makes me wonder how many people who fully celebrate this Thanksgiving will not be here to celebrate the next one. They will be like the colonists who didn’t know any better.

Of course we do know better. We know that unnecessary travel is a bad idea.

We know that indoor gatherings are a bad idea. We know that you can’t social distance around a dinner table. We know that those people have to remove masks for eating. We know that they will be spewing out germs while they are talking during dinner without their masks.

We know that the length of time being spent is too long. We know that a negative COVID test prior to the gathering means nothing. We know that and we choose to ignore it. Skipping one Thanksgiving to celebrate many more to come makes sense.

If we decide not to do that, then we are no better than the horror movie actors. We are making the same bad decisions.


This is a short deadline week because of the Thanksgiving holiday. For that reason, I will not be providing the usual statistical update. However in a snapshot view the numbers are indeed a concern. Prior to Nov. 10th, there was not a single day where the number of new cases exceeded 136,000.

From Nov. 11th onward not a single day had fewer than 141,000 new cases. That means we are moving at a pace of more than 1 million new cases per week.

Last week, I discussed the fact that Pfizer had produced results about its vaccine.

They had 94 vaccine participants develop COVID-19 infections. Based upon the number of vaccine vs placebo individuals infected, they determined that the effectiveness rate was 90 percent.

They are continuing Phase III trials until they reach 164 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The one big problem with Pfizer’s vaccine is the need to maintain it at temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit.

That will present both shipping and storage problems. Most freezers do not go that low.

This week Moderna announced that its vaccine was proving to be 95 percent effective (that number is similar to measles vaccine). Moderna does not have the same temperature storage issues that Pfizer has.

They enrolled almost 44,000 patients (similar to Pfizer’s 45,538 number). Their population included 41 percent of patients in the 56 to 85 age group. It included 42 percent of them from racial or ethnic minorities. All volunteers were over age 18.

Of that group 170 patients later got COVID-19 infections. Of the infected patients 162 were in the placebo group. And 8 of them were in the vaccine group.

They also said that none of the vaccine recipients who developed COVID-19 infection had severe cases. However, with only 8 individuals, it is hard to say if that will hold up in the long run.

There were some immediate side effects. About 2 percent of the vaccine recipients had headaches. About 4 percent reported fatigue.

However, full safety data will not be available until next month.

That is because there is a need to wait for two months to make sure there are no delayed side effects.

This is logical since it takes at least two weeks for the antibodies to develop. Then there may be another delay if those antibodies cause a side effect.

Pfizer expects to have 50 million doses (enough for 25 million people with the two dose regimen) by Dec. 31st. Moderna expects to have 20 million doses (enough for 10 million people) by Dec. 31st. That assumes both finish their trials and get emergency use authorization from the FDA.

As I indicated last week, we need to have at least 220 million people immune for a herd immunity situation. The expected 35 million by Dec. 31st is well short of that target.

For people who know enough to stay home on Thanksgiving, the Zoom meeting service has a special. Free meetings will not be cut off at the 35 minute point that day. It will allow for extended online visits with family members.


V-SAFE (Vaccine Safety Assessment for Essential Workers) is a new term. It is the name for a smartphone app. It is going to be used by the CDC.

V-SAFE will send daily surveys through text messages to vaccine recipients. The surveys will be sent out daily for the first week.

It will then do the same thing weekly for six weeks. It will provide a platform for self reporting post vaccination side effects or COVID-19 symptoms.

It requires a smartphone to do so. The at-risk age group does not have the most sophisticated group of smart phone users. That being said, almost every smart phone user does do texting.


It would appear from the store shelves that people have found a new way of preventing COVID-19. All you need to do is hoard toilet paper.