Covid Factual Missive 6/6/20: Vaccines, Antibodies, Reopening and Zoloft

From a Covid standpoint, Massachusetts continues to improve. Many milestones this week: fewest deaths, longest-hospitalized patient released, twice-weekly Covid Town Halls slowing down, and our numbers of Covid-related emails finally thankfully dropped.

We are starting to staff our clinics and operating rooms again, and next week, as Massachusetts moves into Step 1 of “Phase 2 Reopening,” we’ll start doing the mammograms and heart tests and well-child-exams and even the colonoscopies we had to delay.

Antibody tests:
Do you recall how a few weeks ago I said antibody tests, rushed out without validating science in the wild west of an FDA free-for-all, weren’t ready for prime time? Well, they are now. The FDA has now verified that the tests are sufficiently accurate, they’ve pulled the bad ones, and they have a list on their website of the reliable tests.

You remember your biology: antibodies are the little soldiers your white cells make to deactivate viruses. You have to be infected with virus XYZ in your body in order to make antibody XYZ.


The fastest vaccine development in the history of the world. Scientists have leapfrogged from concept in January to Phase 1 tests (safety) to planned Phase 3 trials (one group of patients will get the vaccine, one will not, then see how many people don’t get sick) of at least two vaccines in July and then two or three more.


Flying by the seat of our pants…..building the plane while we’re flying it….flying on a wing and a prayer….

Concerns re large group exposures eg demonstrations:

We don’t know what’s going to happen

Last Footnote:

In a heart-rending footnote, the FDA announced this week there is a national shortage of Zoloft, one of the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants in America.



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Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Robin Schoenthaler, MD

Covid-Translator. Cancer doc: ~Three decades at MGH. Writer and storyteller: Moth Grand Slam Champion. Mom., @robinshome,