BRET BAIER (HOST): There's a lot we don't know. We don't know really the stats. They don't seem to match up, even today after all that we've been through.
DR. MARTY MAKARY (CONTRIBUTOR): That's right. There's a lot subject to interpretation because some people point to statistics that are massively inflated. We know that the hospitalization numbers are not real. We know the COVID death numbers are not real.
BAIER: Why do you say that?
MAKARY: Well, maybe half of those are real numbers because we don't know who's in the hospital for COVID versus an incidental COVID positive test. And when you test positive in the hospital when you're in there for another reason, like heart failure, you get a stigma, you get a label. And so that goes down as a COVID hospitalization.
BAIER: And we as a country have not delved into the problems with vaccines, right? Other countries have, I know Germany had a big study. But we haven't.
MAKARY: That's right. It's been frowned upon, it's been sort of labeled vaccine hesitant work if you want to do research in that field. There's no funding for it. The CDC hasn't looked into their own VAERS database that has 1.6 million complications, self-reported. And the White House was sending emails to social media companies to take down true stories of vaccine-related complications.
BAIER: But you're telling people, make this decision with your doctor. There are some cases in which it does reduce the severity of the illness.
MAKARY: That's right. One thought is that this new COVID booster is going to be targeting the two strains that are out there now. So by the time it's available, if those strains are still a threat and you haven't had COVID this year, maybe it could be a good idea to get it if you're high risk. But there's myocarditis, there's other complications in young, healthy kids. And how many doses are we going to give to young, healthy kids? 75 in the average lifespan of a 5-year-old in America? It's not completely benign.
BAIER: These are states up to date with COVID-19 vaccines. But you have colleges that are mandating it again. Now, it's interesting to hear the president and today the White House press secretary saying it's suggested use. It's not a mandate. But there are places that are mandating it already.
MAKARY: Well, there is a strong feeling from within the government that this meeting on September 12th is going to result in a strong recommendation by the CDC for all 300 million Americans that are over the age of 12 to get the shot. Now, the last time the White House pushed a new COVID booster without clinical data, only 17% of Americans said yes.
So, they would do themselves a favor to go through the normal process. Some people are raising eyebrows at the fact that the president sort of declared it effective and necessary. There are probably meetings with pharma that were private. Now the FDA's going to approve it after the president declares it effective. People don't like that process.
BAIER: If you've had it before, if you've had it multiple times before, are you protected better against this new strain?
MAKARY: Well, depends when you had it. But if you had it in the last year, the strain that this new COVID booster is designed for was a strain circulating earlier this year. And it's believed to work against the two current strains. It's just unknown if, a month from now, those are going to be the dominant strains or if this new BA.2.86 in Michigan is going to become the dominant strain.
BAIER: It's really helpful for you to be here. Bottom line, talk to your doc.
MAKARY: Talk to your doc. Remember there's the flu shot, it's supposed to be a good match this year and that's probably a good choice.