Paul, 37, had elderly parents, an ER nurse wife, and young children, and he had good questions about COVID vaccines. Then everything changed.

This is his story.
And here’s a piece we did on whether you should get vaccinated now.
Full Transcript Below

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– [Zubin] Hey, guys, it’s Dr. Z. So today I wanted to share, I get a lot of emails, and I wanted to share a very important one, a very poignant one that I got from someone named Paul who had just started watching the show and hit me up through my website. And he agreed to let me share this because he thought it was very important for you guys to see this process and what happened to him and his family.

And it has to do with COVID. It has to do with the vaccines. It started August 11th, and I’m gonna be reading off his email here, when Paul sent me an email and basically said, look, you’re the most reasonable voice on COVID that I’ve heard so far. I need some specific clarification to help me get over the hump and understand how all this works. This is August 11th. In recent discussions, this idea that the vaccine doesn’t prevent infection and you can still infect other people, this was really bothering him even though you can prevent severe disease because the way he was interpreting it is, well, doesn’t this just mean that you get vaccinated not for others? You’re getting vaccinated to protect yourself from severe disease because you can still spread it, and you can still get infected. And he says, isn’t that just a protective play for me and myself? It doesn’t matter if I have 15 boosters.

If I go through the checkout of the unvaccinated, pregnant cashier at the supermarket, she could still get taken out because I passed it on to her, right? And if this is the case, why should I… What’s the advantage here if it’s just for me? And it’s a really good question, right? Because the way CDC had been communicating up until this point was like, “Oh, even if you’re vaccinated, “you still have to wear a mask. “You still have to do all this “because you’re gonna kill everybody with infection too.” It was very unclear and unhelpful communication. And it almost made you feel like, well, why should I get vaccinated? Because I’m not so worried about myself. And if it’s not gonna help others, why?

There’s a good portion of people who feel that way. And Paul was one of them. So I replied actually in uncharacteristically quick fashion on August 12th and said, hey, Paul, these are not uncommon questions. Here is a link to a piece that was in Intelligencer magazine, New York magazine, that I’m gonna do a show on, which I ultimately did do a show on. Really go into the nuance of this. So what that article basically said is, look, even though the vaccines still can sometimes not prevent infection, they do reduce the risk of infection, anywhere from five to tenfold, and that was a very conservative estimate. And it’s not as much as CDC is saying, but it is still quite good. So vaccines not only reduce your chance of getting infected, but they may squeeze down the window during which you’re actually infectious. The people who were vaccinated who had breakthrough infections where they’re actually shedding, they said, CDC was saying, they’re shedding as much virus as unvaccinated people, those are special cases.

Those are vaccinated people who really failed and were getting just as sick. And that could be older people. It could be people with immune compromise. It could be people who are unlucky and are in that 10% where the vaccine doesn’t work. So it’s kind of not the most representative sample of what this vaccine can do. It’s still helping other people to get vaccinated as well as helping yourself and as well as speeding up our chance to get to some kind of endemic status, where the disease is no longer causing severe disease and death because you’ve had repeated chances at immunity, whether it’s vaccine, booster, natural infection. Collectively, we get an immune memory that then turns this thing into a common cold, which for many people it already is, especially younger people and so on. But unfortunately not for everybody, and that’s been the whole problem. That’s why we have over 600,000 dead in the US alone. So that was August 12th. August 16th, I got a followup email. I wanna thank you for responding. Not sure if this reaches ZDogg or the team.

They all come to me. I wanted to share something that I hope continues and encourages this conversation. And he said… He sent it to me on the 12th. And the truth is that he’d already been having symptoms that he didn’t mention because he wanted to get this perspective. And he said he’s been having these flu-like symptoms. And after the email, he got much sicker. So he then tested positive. Eight hours after his positive result, his wife who’s 44 and an emergency room nurse and also hadn’t been vaccinated yet woke up on fire with a 102 fever. Nine hours after that, the 13-year-old kid had started running a fever. And the two younger ones, nine and 10, were unaffected and remained unaffected. So as is typical of delta, goes through the family like fire. And as is typical of COVID, younger kids can sometimes be spared. They just have something about them, whether it’s less ACE2 receptors, whether it’s immunity from other cold viruses more proximal to them, they tend to be a little bit more resistant. Not completely, but in this case it turned out to be true. Then he says the last two days have been total hell for me. My O2 remains good enough not to be admitted, but I’m running a fever about 20 out of 24 hours with medication.

It’s miserable. I’m very nervous. I also know my wife is a few days delayed behind me, and I’m scared what’s coming for her. I wish I’d found your videos sooner after watching them and your approach for not shaming people and laying out the risks. I told my wife that I would have gotten to yes on the vaccine if I’d seen these. I may go ahead and get one shot when it makes sense to do so after I recover. And please keep doing what you’re doing, okay. So that was August 16th. And I wrote back and said, hey, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Rooting for you and your family to get through it quickly. I know the symptoms are hellish. Keep an eye on the O2. Talk to your doctor, so on, because I can’t give individual medical advice, right? It’s not ethical. And then, August 24th. So this was several days later, I get the following email, which I’m gonna read verbatim. Zubin, I’m sorry for bothering you again, but I wanted to share an update as it may help you work with patients or share info with your voice. This experience has ruined me mentally, and there were so many things that could have been prevented. I’m almost fully recovered, and my wife is on the road to recovery. At the ER, I was given a Z-Pak to prevent bacterial pneumonia and no steroids because my O2 was okay. She did telehealth with her doctor and was given steroids, but not a Z-Pak. She’s coughing, unproductive. Mine was productive. It was awful, tasted terrible. So the fact that she’s not producing anything concerns me.

I have her chasing her doctor about it. Okay, so there’s the update on him and his wife. I thought it was important to share because, unfortunately, I had just visited my parents two days before I got sick. I left their house on August 7th, and they had finally gotten to yes on the vaccine and went 8/9 for the first Pfizer shot. So his parents went on the 9th. This has sadly proven to be too late. I infected them. They are both 72 years old. My dad showed signs first on the 12th of August, and it got bad on the 13th. We finally got him to agree to go to the ER via ambulance because the O2 was now hitting 86% on the 20th of August. He was not in the greatest health. He had swelling in his legs, shortness of breath, was walking just 15 feet, and was diabetic all pre-COVID, He responded well to the oxygen at five liters nasal cannula at 94% to 95%. But on the 21st of August, he had a heart attack in the hospital. And CPR was performed to bring him back.

He’s been intubated ever since. Tests show kidney and liver injury. They’ve never been able to detect brain activity because he needed to be paralyzed in order to accept the ventilator. Overnight last night, they were gonna attempt to take him off and check, but at this point it sounds like it’s just a formality. With the ventilator at max, his O2 is just at 80%. We were instructed to say our goodbyes yesterday over a FaceTime call where maybe he could hear us. My god. Meanwhile, I came to be with mom, who has COPD, asthma, and emphysema and was fighting it herself. I had the antibodies, so I came to be with her. ‘Cause he was infected, right? But he was getting better. I had to call the ambulance for her yesterday morning and watch her get wheeled away as her O2 started getting too low. So I’ve been sitting alone in my parents house for 24 hours just staring at the walls. So far, she’s doing well and responding well to three liters of nasal cannula. We’re very hopeful.

The amount of guilt I carry because I wasn’t vaccinated and I didn’t push harder for them is something I will take to my grave. If I could go back, I would change so many things. I literally hand delivered COVID to my parents who were two days away from protecting themselves, and my dad will lose his life as a result. I’m completely heartbroken. These are things I don’t think people think about with the politicization of this pandemic and the vaccine. And then he gets pretty colorful with the language. I’ll paraphrase a little so that we can share this. So screw Republicans and liberty and Democrats and their judging and Fauci and the CDC and all the poor communication and signaling and Rand Paul and Ted Cruz and all the grandstanding and all of it. None of this shit matters in the end. Just get vaccinated and block out the noise. This was avoidable. I told my dad we were just getting him oxygen, that he might even come home with some time to recover at home. He believed me.

I told him that going to the hospital did not mean a certain death. He finally gave in and believed me. I’m heartbroken. There’s so much more to COVID. The stress of low O2 on the organs. Waiting it out to see if you can keep your O2 just barely acceptable can be doing damage you don’t even know. If he went a day or two earlier, maybe this wouldn’t have happened, I don’t know. There’s so many lessons here. I don’t know if you’ve covered them or if you think making a video discussing these things that happened that aren’t being talked about would be helpful and resonate with most, with more people. But I wanted to share in case you do. I’ve personally now gotten three people to sign up for the vaccines and to talk to their unvaccinated parents. It’s become very real now that they saw what I’ve gone through here. That’s tough to read. So on the 25th, I wrote back and said, Paul, I’m so sorry. Truly, I just saw this, and I apologize for the delay. My inbox is crazy.

And I told him, we all do the best we can with the information we have. Please don’t beat yourself up. Seriously, forgive yourself. We do the best we can in the face of conflicting information, misinformation, disinformation, poor communication from authorities that are supposed to be looking out for us, who can’t understand that somehow shaming people into submission on vaccines is not gonna work, that focusing on taking away people’s freedoms with mandates and things like that without really sitting down and explaining the why is not gonna work. Stories work, human stories where we can share, okay, this happened to me, right? And I asked him if we could share it, and he said yes.

Now the truth is, Paul should forgive himself because it could have been that they all were vaccinated weeks or months in advance and still got infected. It could have been that his parents were in the small group of frail individuals that still got very sick, despite vaccine. It could be that he and his family still got infected with delta, even though they were vaccinated. But the truth is, the statistics say that all those things were much, much less likely had they gotten vaccinated. And that’s what I want to stick with you, that if we’re talking about risk, if we’re talking about our loved ones, if we’re talking about not just ourselves, but those around us, getting vaccinated is still the lowest risk for the highest reward because natural COVID infection for many people is just not safe. And so we’re doing the best we can. That’s why I advocate the vaccine even though I don’t like mandates, I don’t like government overreach, I don’t like lockdowns, I don’t like anybody telling me what to do.

But I think this is the right answer. It’s the best thing we have right now until we come up with something better. So please, share this with people that you love, that you’re concerned about. And I wanna thank Paul for sharing this story with me. I know it’s hard to make yourself vulnerable and share this. And Paul, I’m looking right at you. Really, you did the best you could. You asked the questions. You did what so many Americans are doing, which are asking smart and difficult questions before you accept something to be put your body. That’s smart. Now we just have to listen to the answers. All right, guys, I love you.

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