As part of its apparent effort to de-emphasize the epidemic, we are down to one coronavirus briefing a week in Minnesota, which certainly makes my life easier, not having to listen to this nonsense. Even though it is just once a week, the terror continues. It was somewhat muted in regard to variants, maybe because contrary to the misinformation DOH was spreading before, it is apparent that the new variants, especially B117, are at best a little more infectious and that they don’t cause more severe disease. A reporter asked about mask mandates and the Commissioner said that this is one of the most effective things we can do. Well we are in deep shit if that is true, since they clearly have zero impact on transmission. Working really well to stop the case bump in Minnesota. We have had a bump, all due to seasonality, as I suspected several weeks ago, this is prime transmission time for the virus. The good new is that these conditions will begin to ebb shortly. By June, my best guess is that we will have very few cases in Minnesota, but we will still be living under a dictator’s rule. Here is one big thing we should have learned by now; transmission is all about seasonality. But we never hear the state discuss that and we have very little research going on that would explain why–how much is effect on the virus, how much effect on actual transmission processes, how much human host physical or behavior changes. As usual, because it doesn’t understand or give credence to seasonality, the state has no clue what the likely epidemic course is. Just like last fall, DOH will hit maximum panic just when active cases have peaked.
We did learn some interesting facts. The state has all kinds of good data, it just rarely shares it. Following full vaccination, there have been 561 cases (love to see the cycle numbers on those, have to be a bunch of very low positives). 66 of these ended up in the hospital, with an age range of 23 to 95; 9 ended up in ICU, with an age range of 44 to 90, and there were 6 deaths, ranging in age from 69-92. I have to say, those are high hospitalization and death rates. Wonder about health status, you might assume people in poorer health are more likely to be infected following vaccination. Some small number of these cases were known to be variants, sounds like the state doesn’t have enough data to assess whether they disproportionately are causing the infections following vaccination.
The CDC also released some data on reinfections. Out of 77 million fully vaccinated people (unclear for how long) there were 5800 infections. 396 of these people were hospitalized and 74 died. 40% of the infections were in people over 60 and 65% in women. 29% were asymptomatic. As I suspected, the infections will be concentrated in older people who have a less robust response to vaccination and the serious cases are likely occurring in people who have health issues. (BioSpace Story)
This quick analysis made possible by the current common aggregation of large medical record and claims data sets, gives some perspective on the vaccine issues with clotting. (CVT Study) The risk of brain clots following a CV-19 diagnosis was 39 people per million. This risk following mRNA vaccination was 4.1 people per million. For portal vein clotting issues, the risk following diagnosis was 446 people per million and 45 per million after vaccination. So the risk is ten times greater if you are infected versus getting vaccinated. Because the J & J vaccine was introduced later here, data apparently was not available on it, but the European studies suggest the adenovirus vaccines had about a 5 people per million risk of a clotting issue. Pretty obvious that the vaccines actually substantially lower clotting risk compared to being infected.
Another study shows that the mRNA vaccines produce a strong response following two doses in previously uninfected persons and that infected individuals have the same response after one dose. (Science Article) These researchers focused on antibodies and memory B cells. I would say at this point it is fair to conclude that the mRNA vaccines are extremely effective in prompting a lasting adaptive immune response. The vaccines appeared effective against at least one variant.
This is another study using the Pfizer vaccine on nursing home residents in France and evaluating the effect on those who had and hadn’t been previously infected. Even among this group, it was found that one dose of vaccine was sufficient to prompt a strong response in previously infected persons. (JAMA Article)
A few CDC pearls. In this brief data study, we learn that we have had over 160,000 excess deaths during the epidemic that are not attributed to CV-19, and around 500,000 that were. I think at least 15% to 25% of the CV deaths aren’t really due to the virus. But even that 160,000 that clearly didn’t is about one-third of the nominal CV total. These are terror campaign deaths. We won’t have 500,000 excess CV deaths in a similar period again, but we will have those 160,000 non-CV excess deaths, or more. The effects of people missing care and incurring mental health issues and other problems will be felt for years. (CDC Study)
What happened to ER visits during the epidemic. We already know they declined and this CDC paper confirms that has continued during the whole course of the epidemic. Not all ER visits are necessary, but many are important to ward off death or serious disease exacerbations. (CDC Study) Last spring the decline was 42%, including over a 70% decline for children 10 and under. This study updates for the full year and finds ongoing declines compared to prior periods, with continued notable decreases in visits for children. There was an increase in mental health related visits.
And finally, CDC took a look at percents of ER visits that were for influenza or CV-19. For each of June 2018 to March 2019 and June 2019 to March of 2020, you can see a clear pattern of rising influenza visits in winter peaking in late December through February, but there was basically no influenza from June 2020 to March 2021. CV-19 visits rose in July of 2020, then declined, then accelerated to a new peak in late fall/early winter. (CDC Study)