Health Matters: Russian COVID vaccine? Local Moderna vaccine trial? Face mask advice?

By NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

On this week's Health Matters Presented by SSM Health, we take another in-depth look at all things coronavirus.  Included are discussions on that new Russian claim that it has the first official COVID-19 vaccine -- and all the details on Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development clinical trial of the new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.  We will also find out about concerns regarding the possible confluence of the influenza season with coronavirus cases this fall and winter -- and learn about the latest findings on which types of face masks provide the best protection.

Here is the complete rundown of the show:
Health Matters Presented by SSM Health-- August 15, 2020
1. Dr. FRED BUCKHOLD, SLU Care general internist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Dr. Buckhold says local COVID-19 cases have been holding steady.  Not in a high growth rate like in mid July -- but steady hospitalizations -- and people have been sicker than earlier.  Russia claims to have the first successful COVID-19 vaccine.  Dr. Buckhold says there's no proof yet that the vaccine is effective or safe.  The key, he says, is not to do any harm to your patient -- so any successful vaccine needs to go through Phase 3 testing in large numbers of people.  He says most people are suspicious about this vaccine and concerned it could do harm and hopes nothing bad comes out of this.  Differing views on whether or not you can be re-infected with COVID-19.  Dr. Buckhold says we just don't know yet about re-infection and still a lot to learn about this virus.  
2. Dr. SHARON FREY, SLU Care clinical director of Saint Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development.  SLU is recruiting participants for its Moderna vaccine study.  This study involves a vaccine made with MRNA -- the instruction manual that allows the body to make the spike protein -- which is the small piece of the virus that causes an immune response.  Several hundred volunteers are needed in the St. Louis area.  Thirty thousand nationwide.  Volunteers will get either the vaccine or a placebo on day one -- and then another shot on day 28.  Dr. Frey says so far, the early results look very promising.  Volunteers can be 18 or older -- looking for people who are exposed to the virus in their everyday life.  Also looking for elderly people -- over 65.  And young people with co-morbidities.  You do not receive the live virus in this study.  But there may be side effects but so far no one has had a severe side effect to this vaccine.  To volunteer, log onto or call 314-977-6333. 
3. Dr. PETER MONTGOMERY, family medicine physician with the SSM Health Medical Group.  There are growing concerns that this coming fall and winter could be a dangerous time due to a possible combination of coronavirus and influenza.  But Dr. Montgomery says he's hopeful that many of the COVID-prevention measures we are taking now will help keep the flu numbers at bay.  He says masking and social distancing do a lot to help prevent many illnesses. Dr. Montgomery says he's treated one sinus infection this month -- probably because of mask wearing.  And in Australia -- where it is winter and the height of their flu season -- they're seeing an 80-percent reduction in influenza numbers -- also possibly linked to mask wearing and social distancing.  But -- he says it is critical that everyone still gets a flu shot as soon as they become available.  The vaccine drastically cuts down the death rate, he says, especially in people over 65.  And he says there's no truth to the belief that the flu shot actually gives you the flu.  He thinks this year, flu shots might be ready by early September. 
4. Dr. THOMAS SILER, sleep medicine physician with SSM Health Sleep Services, Medical Director at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital - St. Charles and a board certified pulmonary disease specialist.  A new Duke University study assesses the effectiveness of some popular types of face coverings for protecting against spread of germs.  N-95 masks were best -- but should be for medical professionals only.  Surgical masks -- those light blue ones -- are very good for everyday use.  Cloth masks also do okay.  Bandanas stop 45-percent of viral dispersion.  Neck Gaiters were found to be worse than wearing nothing at all.  But not all types of neck gaiters were studied.  The more layers the better, he says, for protection.  Dr. Siler says this study only addresses the expelling of virus -- but not protecting you from the virus.  Dr. Siler says face shields are good for protecting your eyes.  But best if worn with a mask.  Wearing in the community can be protective but not necessary.