It’s not over — Omicron is here

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, reviews the new COVID-19 variant Omicron with the Nevada Independent

Read the full Nevada Independent article here

Dr. BCW,

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has arrived and is surging across the U.S., dominating over other variants and bringing with it new concerns about its potential impact and more questions about whether vaccinations are truly working. 

To understand Omicron, you have to understand the nature of viruses. Viruses naturally mutate and continue to be present so that they can infect. This happens to a greater degree when there are not high rates of vaccinations and so now, unfortunately, we have yet another variant.

Omicron looks to be highly transmissible and for those who are unvaccinated, it can present a high risk of falling ill, along with possible hospitalization and potential death. For those who have received the vaccine and still contracted the virus –– known as a breakthrough infection –– the symptoms have generally been mild to moderate.  

At the beginning of the vaccine rollout, it was said by some and then widely socialized that vaccines were 100 percent effective in preventing the virus. No vaccine is 100 percent, though, and unfortunately some people who were vaccinated still contracted the virus and passed away. Unvaccinated people who are still skeptical, along with vaccinated individuals who have had breakthrough infections, may think the vaccine failed.

It didn’t. It actually did what it was supposed to do, which was provide a level of protection in the hope that fewer people would fall severely ill, be hospitalized or have a bad outcome. In the midst of breakthrough infections and a new variant, vaccines are still a valid way to better your odds on having a severe illness — and the best chance we have to fight COVID-19. To put it in perspective, if we were to go back in time to the beginning of the pandemic, we would be in a much graver situation now if we didn’t have the vaccines at all…

Dr. BCW continues on The Nevada Independent.

Tips for navigating the holidays and awkward COVID conversations

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, mets with Nevada Independent to review the upcoming holidays and provides tips on awkward COVID conversations.

Ready the full Nevada Independent article here

You can see and feel it all around: The holiday season is officially here, and there is a true sense of excitement to travel again, gather together and get back to our normal lives. 

As we make and finalize plans, there are a few things to be mindful of during this time, especially as we visit with friends and family. First, remember that we are, unfortunately, still grappling with containing the COVID-19 virus even with vaccines and booster shots readily available to most Americans.

When planning to gather with loved ones and travel, here are a few tips to help  protect you and your family as you continue to navigate this environment.

Have “The Talk”

Though it can be uncomfortable and awkward to discuss, have an honest discussion up front about who is and is not vaccinated. Prior to engaging in those conversations, think about your values and comfort level when it comes to COVID-19 and the vaccine. This approach will allow you to set the tone for how you proceed with hosting or participating in holiday events.

Once you have decided your comfort level, and if you decide you need to know the vaccination status of those who also will attend an event, share that with people — and provide a reason as to why it’s personally important to you to know the information. 

For example, even before the vaccine rollout, I would share with people that I wasn’t comfortable going to certain events because I had a 98-year-old father and didn’t want to risk transmitting the virus to him. Communicating your personal reasons, such as, “I’m nervous and don’t want someone to get ill from my gathering,” can help prevent others from becoming defensive…

Dr. BCW continues on The Nevada Independent.

Can antibiotics, ivermectin and supplements help fight COVID-19?

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, talks antibiotics, ivermectin and supplements and weather or not they help fight COVID-19.

Read the full Nevada Independent article here

Dr. BCW,

As the junior year of the pandemic continues, many are still reluctant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Frustrated, fearful and distrusting, some have turned to the use of unauthorized or unregulated drugs in hopes of preventing and treating the virus – despite an abundance of research and science-based data that supports the effectiveness of the vaccine.

When considering the use of drugs such as antibiotics, supplements and the now trending antiparasitic drug ivermectin, it’s important to note that COVID-19 is a virus, not a bacterial infection. The components of a virus and a bacterial infection are completely different. I often tell my patients that I can prescribe the strongest antibiotic in the world, but if they have a viral infection, it’s not going to help. In fact, taking an antibiotic to treat a virus will not have any benefits — and could cause adverse side effects or, unfortunately, cause a person to build up a resistance to antibiotics altogether.


According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), antiparasitic drugs such as Ivermectin should not be used to treat COVID-19. Antiparasitic medications–much like antibiotics–are not appropriate or effective treatments for the virus as these medications have yet to be proven to respond to viral infections. The FDA also says taking large doses of Ivermectin is “not ok” and that overdose on Ivermectin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.

Though supplements and vitamins can help the immune system, they do not treat or prevent COVID-19. Supplements are not regulated, and we do not truly know the effects they have…

Dr. BCW continues on The Nevada Independent

The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness for Black Women and Women of Color

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell joins Carbon Health, discussing the importance of Breast Cancer awareness for black women and women of color.

Read the full Carbon Health article here

Dr. Curry-Winchell,

In the United States, it’s expected that roughly 13 percent of women will develop invasive breast cancer during their life. That’s more than 280,000 cases every year. But the risks are not the same for everyone: According to data shared by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, white women have the highest rates of diagnosed breast cancer, at 13 percent, followed closely by Black women at 12 percent (who, despite this slightly lower diagnosis rate, have the highest mortality rate of any demographic group). Hispanic and Asian and Pacific Islander women have a lifetime risk of 11 percent, followed by Native American women at 8 percent.

Doctors and researchers are working to determine exactly why these rates vary, but they point to many factors that contribute to rates of diagnosis and mortality among different communities.

Paying attention to breast health is important for everyone — this means regular visits with a healthcare provider, mammograms, and early detection, including monthly breast self-exams (learn more about the importance of self-exams and how to perform them, in “Keeping Abreast of Your Health with Regular Self-Exams.”) ?

BIPOC Communities and Breast Cancer

In the United States, Black women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer. And even though white women are slightly more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, disease rates for breast cancer among young Black women are higher than their white counterparts.

There are many factors that influence how a person experiences breast cancer. Age at time of diagnosis, type of breast cancer, and overall health at time of diagnosis are contributing factors that can impact survival rates. Some other common contributing factors include….


Dr. Curry-Winchell continues on the full Carbon Health article.


Keeping Abreast of Your Health with Regular Self-Exams

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, works with Carbon Health to discuss the importance of regular self-exams in breast cancer detection.

Read the full Carbon Health article here

Dr. Curry-Winchell,

According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early and is in the localized stage, the five-year relative survival rate is 99 percent. And early detection means not only regular visits with a healthcare provider and mammograms, but also monthly breast self-exams.

Staying in Touch with Your Body Through Breast Self-Exams

A lot has changed during the pandemic. Many people decided to put off healthcare and delay some routine preventive visits. People also noticed their bodies changing, in all sorts of ways, because of stress (as well as other factors). Doing a monthly breast self-exam isn’t just about looking for cancer. It’s part of staying acquainted with your body, checking in with it, and seeing what’s up. It’s a time to slow down and clue in. Is that a new freckle? Is there weight gain or loss? Muscle gain or loss? Our bodies have so much to tell us if we take the time to listen.

Am I Too Young for Breast Self-Checks?

Unless they have certain risk factors such as a family history of breast cancer, most people don’t start getting regular mammograms until they are 40 years old. This contributes to a misconception that breast health is not a concern until then. However, once you’ve passed puberty, monthly self-exams are a good idea. If you’ve never done a breast self-exam, you may be wondering where to begin. Here are few easy steps to get you started:

  • Begin by looking at your breasts in the mirror. Be sure you are standing on flat feet or sitting with as straight a back as you are able (no intentional slouching or leaning)….

Dr. BCW continues on the Carbon Health article.


COVID misinformation – Why I trust the data

Dr. BCW, “Why I trust the data” – Dr. Curry-Winchell,  tells the Nevada Independent why we should trust the data and not fall for COVID misinformation.

Read the full Nevada Independent article here

Dr. BCW,

There is an abundance of data and information—and misinformation—surrounding COVID-19 and the vaccine. For the general public, it might be hard to understand what the data actually mean or even trust the information being presented.  

As a physician, I rely upon peer-reviewed journals to make the best-informed decisions about my patients and implement my knowledge and experience as a medical professional accordingly. Created by scientists and physicians, peer reviews are vital tools that present an even deeper exploration into the studies of different disease processes and provide me with the optics of how a group of people are experiencing a disease as a whole.

Through this lens, I’m able to decide whether I want to endorse the use of a medication, or wait until there is another review with more information. For example, I like to see if a blind study was involved and the number of patients who participated, which can affect the overall outcome and accuracy of results.

For the COVID-19 vaccine, I looked to the works of virologist Dr. Kizzy Corbett, who was part of the clinical trials for the vaccine. Seeing how strong, robust, and accurate her work was provided me with my initial layer of trust. I then looked at how the studies were performed, and made certain they included all races, ages and ethnicities, and also that they were blind studies — meaning they included participants who didn’t know whether they were receiving the vaccine or a placebo. (In addition, mRNA vaccines were studied well past the beginning of the pandemic, which many people are completely unaware of. The history of mRNA vaccines and the way the trials were performed helped me trust that the vaccine would be effective.)

I’ve also used data I’ve found in specific studies to make decisions for my pediatric patients….

Dr. BCW further explains “Why I trust the data” in the full Nevada Independent article.

It takes two: The importance of getting the second dose of the vaccine

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, tells the Nevada Independent about the importance of getting the second dose of the vaccine for COVID-19

Read the full Nevada Independent article here

Dr. BCW,

With emergence of the Delta variant and COVID-19 cases on the rise again in Nevada, it’s important to get the second shot as it provides a full layer of protection.

The Delta variant is highly transmissible and is leading to an increase in cases, hospitalizations, and unfortunately, death. We have witnessed the destruction it has caused in other countries, making it imperative that we understand just how fortunate we are in the U.S. to have the vaccine readily available to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. In order to have the most protection, the second shot is necessary in arming yourself against the virus.

Still, while the vaccine is widely available and improvements in access to the vaccine have been made, many are hesitant to return for the second dose. As of this writing, the Nevada Health Response Tracker cited that 47 percent of Nevada’s population (ages 12 years and older), have been fully vaccinated.

When we look at why people do not return to receive the second shot, we hear several reasons in the field. In most cases after getting the first shot, patients will experience soreness at the injection site, fatigue and body aches, and some overall malaise which can deter them from going back to get the second dose. However, I like to remind my patients (as well as the public), that these side effects are temporary and the body’s way of arming itself. Think of it as a “dress rehearsal” – should you ever come into contact with COVID-19.

Misinformation is another factor for those not returning. With the exception of the Janssen shot, the clinical trials were based on two shots only. By discovering this information, it revealed a high-level of protection with both Pfizer and Moderna, and the one-dose Janssen. With just one shot of Pfizer and Moderna, there is uncertainty about the level of protection you will receive….

Dr. BCW continues on The Nevada Independent.

Vaccinations for children ages 12 and up: Another level of protection

Dr. BCW, Dr. Curry-Winchell, talks vaccinations for children ages 12 and up with Nevada Independent


Read full Nevada Independent article here

Dr. Curry-Winchell: Recently the Pfizer vaccine was authorized for children ages 12 to 15, and, at the time of this writing, Moderna is now seeking FDA emergency authorization for this age group as well. With this in mind –– and as a family physician ­–– one of the most common questions I hear from patients is why should I get my child vaccinated?

Risk vs. benefits

There is a misconception that children are not affected by COVID-19. While children may not display overt symptoms of the virus, it is possible for them to transmit to others, and they can play a role in the asymptomatic spread of the virus, leading to an increase in the number of cases, hospitalization, and death. Additionally, children ages 12-15 may transmit the virus as readily as adults, which can lead to an increase in COVID cases.

Additionally, there have been children who have experienced complications and conditions such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), a condition with lasting effects that could inhibit children from participating in regular activities.

With the summer approaching, the vaccine would provide reassurance that children 12+ are not transmitting it to others, including other younger household members, grandparents, those with compromised immune systems, or those who are not eligible to receive the vaccine. It also provides hope they can return to participating in summer camps, visiting their loved ones, and enjoying other summer activities.   

Back to school

Getting children vaccinated now also provides protection for the school year. When they’re back in school, there is an increased risk of possible transmission as the COVID-19 virus is highly contagious. By having your child vaccinated, you are allowing them to enter the school year with a layer of protection that decreases the risk of them getting sick.

Is it safe?

The clinical trial enrolled more than 2,000 participants ages 12 to 15, with half of the participants receiving a vaccine dose and the other half a saline placebo. The participants were followed and closely monitored for at least two months to ensure their safety following the second dose. They found that the vaccine’s efficacy was consistent across teens and adults. The trials also showed that there were no known differences across age groups and that there weren’t any real adverse outcomes. As a parent and a physician, this provided me with a level of reassurance that vaccine is safe for children ages 12 and up……

Dr. Curry-Winchell continues on vaccinations for children in the full article.