Governor Abbott’s COVID

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August 18, 2021 10:24 a.m.

You have seen the news that Gov. Abbott of Texas has tested positive for COVID. It adds a new element of drama to the battle he’s currently waging to ban school masking and vaccine mandates in Texas. But there’s another element I wanted to mention. Because when I saw it yesterday it confused me.

The governor’s office reports that he tested positive after one of the tests for the infection he takes each day. They report he is fully vaccinated, in good health and as yet has no symptoms of the disease. At 63 he is approaching the age when people start to have more adverse outcomes. But fully vaccinated there’s every expectation he will have a mild course of the illness if he has any symptoms at all and probably not need to do more than do the duties of office in quarantine.

But the statement from the Governor’s office also noted that he has begun taking the Regeneron antibodies treatment.

I don’t know the governor’s health – “in good health” is not a clinical term. And I am no expert on the Regeneron treatment but it is generally indicated for people who are showing mild or moderate symptoms of COVID and are at high risk of developing severe disease. It’s not like Tamiflu where you take it just to be on the safe side. It’s not clear why someone in good health would be taking the treatment before even developing any symptoms. One possibility is that Abbott’s paralysis or conditions related to it count as co-morbities or pre-existing conditions which place him at greater risk. I am curious to hear from clinicians whether this is a possibility; I have no expertise to judge.

A short time later NBC News reported that Abbott has been telling associates that he received a third booster dose of the COVID vaccine. That also seems notable since the FDA has actually not approved third doses of the vaccines, except a few days ago in the case of people with compromised immune systems.

There’s nothing we know about Abbott’s health that suggests he’s eligible, though the FDA appears to be on the cusp of authorizing third doses after eight months.

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In any case, the Governor of Texas isn’t like the President. We don’t need to know every last detail of their health. Texas has no nuclear football, at least as far as we know. So I don’t think Abbott owes the citizens of Texas a deep scrutiny of the state of his health. But these details, at least on their face, don’t seem to square with what we know of his condition.

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