The Media and I: Approving COVID Vaccine, and Unreliable Marijuana Testing

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In this radio interview with John Batchelor, our conversation includes (1) the approval of the latest COVID vaccines; and (2) the problem – especially for people in some occupations – with testing for the presence of marijuana and other drugs.

I described the vaccine approval process, noting that the FDA evaluates the safety and efficacy while the CDC recommends the appropriate recipients. The recent approval of new COVID vaccines covers everyone over six months of age, indicating broad applicability. Our discussion also touched on the interchangeability of vaccines --  how the mixing and matching vaccines, such as an mRNA vaccine and a Novavax "subunit" vaccine, in theory, offers broader coverage. (But, most important is to be fully vaccinated.)

John inquired about the vaccine's ability to prevent infection versus its reducing serious outcomes. The first round of COVID mRNA vaccines were highly effective at preventing infection and severe illness, hospitalization, and death; however, as the virus evolved, the vaccines were less effective at preventing infection but still significantly reduced the incidence of serious outcomes. Vaccination also lowers the likelihood of long COVID, the persistence of signs and symptoms of COVID that can last for months or even years following the acute infection.

Shifting the conversation, John raised concerns about the reliability of tests for marijuana and other drugs, particularly in the context of police stops of drivers. These tests are problematic, indicating only the presence or absence of substances without measuring impairment. This lack of nuance poses risks, especially for individuals in occupations where a positive drug test can lead to severe consequences, such as termination.


You can find the audio broadcast with CBS Eye on the World with John Batchelor here. These are the links to my articles on COVID vaccines with Dr. Chuck Dinerstein here and Dr. Josh Bloom on marijuana testing here.