Dr Nicholas Tyau is a BJJ Black Belt and an internal medicine specialist who worked in NYC hospitals during Covid Ground Zero in 2020.
Today we cover the 5 key factors you need to consider after you’ve been vaccinated but before you decide to return to normal training.
We discuss the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing you from getting Covid-19 (good but not perfect), ending up in the hospital (good but not perfect) and transmitting Covid-19 to others (again, good but not perfect). We also cover variants, hospitalisation rates, and 5 critical factors to weigh when you’re training post vaccination in a world that still has high levels the virus.
BJJ After Covid Vaccination with Dr Nicholas Tyau (Video Format)
Here’s the video of my conversation with Dr Tyau where we talk about all things Covid and vaccination…
Some of the highlights include….
0:00 Episode and guest introduction
2:00 Readiness rulers in medicine
4:00 The critical importance of hospitalisation rates
7:30 Vaccination Rates in USA vs Canada
9:00 How who you live with affects your risk calculus
10:42 Vaccination training pods (and/or testing training pods)
11:50 Vaccine efficacy and timing of maximum protection
15:44 The effect of local conditions on your risk calculus
17:24 Covid long haulers
22:30 Covid Variants
26:26 Anti-vaccine misinformation
31:04 Relative risks of the Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines
36:23 A doctor’s approach to dealing with vaccine hesitancy
42:15 The rate of new discoveries and information
44:50 Implications of the Israel experiment and herd immunity
45:45 Review of the 5 factors to consider after vaccination and before training
BJJ After Covid Vaccination with Dr Nicholas Tyau (Audio Format)
This interview was published as episode 320 of The Strenuous Life Podcast. You can also listen to the audio-only format of the episode on your podcast player.
It’s on all major podcast platforms, but here are some of the links to get you started…
Or if you want to stay on this page please use the embedded audio player below…
5 Key Factors to Consider After Training But Before Staring to Train
Dr Tyau and I can’t do your risk assessment for you – everybody’s situation and every training location is different. But we can give you some food for thought and present some of the factors you should consider before returning to full, unimpeded training.
For your easy reference here are the 5 factors to consider for BJJ training post vaccination we discuss in throughout the podcast and then review briefly at around the 45 minute mark…
1) LOCAL HOSPITAL AND ICU OCCUPANCY RATES
It’s important to know what’s happening in your local hospitals.
If there’s a local spike going on and hospitalisation and ICU usage rates are high (especially over 80%) then you proyou less likely to train.
After all, if you do get sick then there might not be a bed waiting for you.
And even if you get an ICU bed that might be preventing someone else from getting that bed, including people sick or injured from activities that have nothing to do with the pandemic. After all, if little Johnny down the street gets hit by a car you want doctors to be able to take care of him too, right?
2) COVID TEST POSITIVITY RATES IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Local case count is important, but the total number of Covid cases in a given community can vary depending on the amount of testing that’s being done.
Therefore you have to also consider the ‘test positivity rate’ within your community, i.e. the percentage of the all covid tests done that come back positive. This concept is discussed extensively in the Opening Up BJJ guidelines.
For context, when we recorded this episode the test positivity rate in NYC was about 6%, but my area (Vancouver) was in its third wave and was having test positivity rates of 11% and higher (much higher in certain areas). This means that it would actually be safer to train in NYC, the city that got nuked by the virus originally, than it would be to train in Vancouver.
3) VACCINATION RATES WITHIN YOUR COMMUNITY AND TRAINING GROUP
The more people who are vaccinated in a group then the more firebreaks a viral outbreak runs into and the slower it spreads.
Therefore if you’re in an area with high vaccine uptake rates then you’re safer than in an area with a lot of vaccine hesitancy or vaccine refusal. The same applies, at a smaller scale, to individual jiu-jitsu clubs.
4) YOUR TOLERANCE FOR PERSONAL SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM RISK
The effects of Covid-19 on an individual vary wildly, ranging from asymptomatic to getting hospitalised and possibly dying. The older and sicker you are to start with the greater the odds of a bad outcome, but even young, healthy people have had very bad cases.
But in addition to considering the short term mortality statistics you also have to think about Long Haul Covid. I am very biased in my assessment of this because of the fifteen or so firefighters in my department that have caught Covid at least three of them have had serious long hauler symptoms that might affect their athletic performance for years to come.
I endorse people’s rights to take personal risk so I can’t make this particular assessment for you; you’ll have to weigh the personal pros and cons yourself.
But while we’re on the topic of right to take risk, what I do not endorse is taking risks on behalf of other people who did not consent, which brings us to point 5…
5) WHO YOU LIVE AND WORK WITH
Your risk calculus has to reflect the possibility of getting Covid, maybe even asymptomatically, and then making other people sick.
This risk is most pronounced for the people you live, train, and work with.
If you live alone then you might be willing to accept more risk than if you live with elderly parents or an immunocompromised child who cannot yet get vaccinated.
An Intermediate Position: Vaccinated Training Pods
Let’s say you’re fully vaccinated and based on a sober risk assessment you want to return to a limited form of training but not jump in with the general population quite yet. In other words you’re willing to accept SOME of the risk but not ALL of the risk.
In that case you might want to train exclusively with other fully vaccinated people, at least for the time being.
This is essentially a training pod of vaccinated people.
Maybe you can approach your instructor and see if he or she is willing to facilitate vaccinated training pods, or even just open up the gym so you and a few vaccinated people can roll around again.
It’s true that some anti-vaxx and ultra-ideological instructors may refuse your request outright, but it’s probably worth politely asking since it’ll keep on putting money into their pocket. In this area I’m convinced that the customer is always right!
Training in a vaccinated pod is my current plan – once I get my second shot I will consider training one-on-one or in small groups but only with people who are also fully immunised. Since I’m open to changing my mind as new data comes in I may change my position in the future too.
— StephanKesting (@StephanKesting) April 16, 2021
Related Podcast Episodes, Videos and Articles
Please check out my previous conversation with Dr Tyau here (ep 285).
Here’s my series of discussions with Dr Chris Moriarty that Dr Tyau referred to in today’s interview, including a set of suggested guidelines for operating a BJJ school safely during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And here’s episode 302 with epidemiologists Kathrine Wallace and Madeline Lewis in which we examine many of the myths and misinformation around Covid-19.
Thank you, and take care of each other,