Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles Talks Comirnaty, Omicron, COVID-19 and Drive Thru Testing

Andy Ogles


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to discuss the Comirnaty Pfizer vaccine, COVID-19 testing, and health privacy.

(Chris Butler clip plays)

Leahy: Well, to add to the confusion here, Andy, the pronunciation of Comirnaty now as Chris pronounced is Comirnaty. Who knows what the real name is. Supposedly it’s Comirnaty. Some genius at Pfizer said this is the brand we’re going to use.

Ogles: That’s right.

Leahy: But I think it’s sort of evocative or symbolic of all of the confusion surrounding everything that’s related to the treatment, the testing, and the prevention of COVID-19. And right now we see that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. The cases are high.

Omicron is apparently less lethal than all these others. But we saw a report in Houston. Houston hospitals, half of those hospitalized have been vaccinated. And here’s the other big thing about this. Okay. Omicron is spreading very rapidly. Try and get a test for COVID-19, and you got to wait in line.

Ogles: Yes. And some of your health departments still have testing capabilities. In Maury County, we test in the mornings. And it’s just a drive-through testing process.

Leahy: You do drive-through testing in Maury County?

Ogles: That’s right. Maury County has led the way on a whole host of Covid related issues.

Leahy: Okay. I think you’re following the example of Governor Ron DeSantis here by making testing available, making treatments available.

I didn’t know this because I was talking with a friend the other day said, well, I’d like to get tested for Covid, but I can’t get an appointment, like for four days. Now is this available only to Maury County residents?

Ogles: No, it’s the Maury County Health Department, which is administered by the county. But it’s a Tennessee Department of Health. So if you’re a Tennessee resident for that matter and if you show up and you’re from Alabama, we’re going to give you a test.

Leahy: Okay. So walk me through where people would go to get this test. And when would they get the results? How would that work? Because I think a lot of people are concerned. I want to get the test.

I’d like to know right away because if they’ve got Omicron, they want to isolate for I guess what five days is what the standard is now.

Ogles: So these are not the quick tests. This is your standard PCR test. You’re looking at a 24 to 48 hours return window depending on the labs. But you drive through. They do the swab, put it in an envelope, and then you’re off to go.

It’s a pretty straightforward process. We’ve been doing it for two years now, and we typically do it in the mornings. We have to double-check the hours. But if you go to the Maury County Health Department,

Leahy: You could find that out.

Ogles: You can look it all up.

Leahy: I think Williamson County does that as well, but they’ve got limited like it’s like only two hours in the day where you can do it.

Leahy: What are the lines like for this?

Ogles: Obviously, it depends on the day to day. But I went up there just to check in last week, and there were only three or four cars in line. Maybe if you came 20 minutes later, there may have been 10 cars in line. Right. But who knows?

Leahy: Well, now we’re talking about it right now. Yeah. So obviously there will be droves of people testing today.

Ogles: I think it’s the responsible thing to get tested if you think you have symptoms. But there’s a lot of flu out there. There’s another virus that’s going around that’s kind of a flu.

Leahy: What? Another virus?

Ogles: That’s right. It’s not Covid. It’s not the flu, but it’s like three days of fever and et cetera. So there is a lot of illness out there we’re seeing at the health department and we’re seeing at the hospital. But it’s the flu season and people are going to get sick. But going back to the name of however you say it, right.

Leahy: Well, according to the official FDA, how do you pronounce this thing? Comirnaty. Now, just for those listening in the haze of confusion about this, we actually stumbled across this when we did a story at The Ohio Star, one of our 10 state-based sites.

Ohio passed a law that said public schools and colleges can only mandate vaccines that have been fully approved by the FDA. Turns out that there’s only one fully approved vaccine. All the others are emergency use approved.

Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson have emergency-approved versions. Johnson and Johnson’s emergency approved version, last month, the CDC said, don’t take it. The CDC said, don’t take it because of some heart issues.

Moderna is emergency approved. They don’t have a fully approved version. There is an emergency-approved version of the Pfizer vaccine and there’s a fully approved version of the Pfizer vaccine.

The fully approved is called Comirnaty. C-O-M-I-R-A-N-T-Y and is available nowhere in the United States, although they say these two are interchangeable. Although not exactly alike. In the haze of confusion, we don’t even know what the difference is between these things.

Ogles: If you just step back for a minute and look at this objectively, what’s frustrating is you have a lot of companies and governments who, once Pfizer was fully approved, began pushing mandates. And the assumption was that you would be receiving the fully approved vaccine.

Leahy: Nobody in the United States, as far as we can tell, right in any state has received the fully approved Comirnaty Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

They have received the emergency-approved COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer. The Pfizer people say they’re interchangeable asterisks. What exactly does that mean? They’re legally distinct?

Ogles: And if there were a lawsuit on one of these vaccines, they would argue that they are legally distinct, so you can’t have it both ways.

Leahy: What’s happened in that lawsuit is very interesting because a federal court in Florida has determined that they’re legally distinct and that’s been confirmed. This was a lawsuit brought by people in the armed forces that didn’t want to take a not fully approved vaccine.

We found out about this because, in Ohio, the state legislature passed a law that said you couldn’t be forced to take a vaccine that wasn’t fully approved by the FDA. Every public University in Ohio has mandated students take the vaccine, but the fully approved version is not available anywhere.

There are lawsuits as a result of our reporting against the University of Cincinnati, Miami of Ohio, and Ohio University to begin with. And I think they’re going to end up winning those cases because it seems, I think pretty clear.

Ogles: But what you have now is you’ve got Pfizer and the US government, the FDA, and the CDC that let people assume that they were getting the fully approved version. Hush-hush. Don’t tell anybody. Meanwhile, it’s only available in New York.

Leahy: Asterisk. If you go and you get sort of an attorney for Pfizer, and they say, yes, it’s legally distinct. But they are “interchangeable.” I don’t know exactly what interchangeable means.

Ogles: They’re tap dancing. (Leahy laughs) I’m not anti-vaccines. What I’m telling you is, go talk to your doctor. Stop listening to the news and to the pundits. I don’t care what your vaccine status is.

It’s none of my business. I don’t care if you’ve had an STD before. It’s none of my business. Go get vaccinated if you want to get vaccinated and shut up about it.

Leahy: And stop telling me what to do!

Ogles: Yes. My health care is none of your business. Your health care is none of my business. We have HIPAA for that. You have ADA. There’s a whole host of things to protect my privacy and your privacy.

Leahy: That’s something I think even hipsters would agree with. (Ogles laughs)

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.














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