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Coronamonomania Thrives in Darkness, Part 50

By April 22, 2021Commentary

Holy crap, halfway there on yet another series, I hope I am done with this before 100.  The world and our country are in a bad, bad place and we don’t have the leadership to make it better.  Down the tubes we go, with the slide greased by our great friends China and Russia.  Makes reading coronavirus research seem like fun.

Okay, let’s be honest, understanding all the math behind false negatives and positives, sensitivity and specificity of a diagnostic test, and the relationship to prevalence in a population is complicated.  This article does an excellent job explaining it and demonstrating why this widespread testing of asymptomatic groups, like students, is so dangerous.  (FP Article)

I include this only as one more example of atrocious, so-called research.  These ding-dongs claim that social distancing cuts transmission by up to 90% and name a series of states  whose loosening up will inevitably lead to disaster,  except it hasn’t.  Garbage.  (Medrxiv Paper)   But then one of authors is from the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at Michigan and one is from “Batman” University  in Turkey.  The command of English isn’t great either.  Oh, look, they build a model.  How special!!

A couple of CDC papers on the incidence of infection in nursing homes following vaccination campaigns.  Alex Berenson, who apparently really does want us all locked down forever, either has intentionally misrepresented the results of studies or doesn’t understand what he is reading as he attempts to use one study (while ignoring the other one) in his campaign to claim the vaccines aren’t effective.  Funny thing, Alex isn’t talking about the effect of vaccinations in Israel anymore, now that enough time has passed for the full adaptive immune response to develop.  In any event the first study, the one Alex attempts to use, comes from Chicago.  (CDC Study)   Alex claims it shows a post-vaccination spike in cases.   Uhhh, might need some data on trends going back a few weeks and in the community to support that, but, gee, I don’t see that anywhere in the study.

The study covers the period from December to March assessing infections according to vaccination status among nursing home residents and staff.  Now let’s keep in mind that the infirm elderly develop weaker immune responses to anything than does the general public, and this study was based on 75 skilled nursing facilities, which have the sickest patients.  Since vaccinations began, 627 CV-19 infections were identified in these facilities, but only 12 residents and 10 staff members who were at least 14 days post full vaccination were among that group, so around 3% of all infections.  71% occurred in completely unvaccinated persons.  Two-thirds of the post-full vaccination infections were completely asymptomatic.  Two residents were hospitalized and one died.  The information that is given suggests a very sick person, with multiple serious illnesses at the time of admission.  More poor death attribution.  The vaccinated cohort had far lower per capita infection rates than the unvaccinated one.   Not one case of secondary transmission was identified among this group of “breakthrough” infections, suggesting very mild infections, with low viral loads.  PCR testing cycle numbers confirmed these low viral loads.  This is actually an extremely positive study among a very ill population.

The second study, which Alex didn’t mention because it wasn’t as easy to twist, came from Kentucky.  (CDC Study)   The study evaluated an outbreak in a single nursing home.  There were 83 residents and 116 health care workers with almost all of the residents and a majority of the workers having received two doses of vaccine.  26 residents and 20 staff were positive for CV-19 and 18 of the residents and 4 of the staff were at least two weeks past their second dose.  The index case was an unvaccinated worker.  Infection rates were three times higher in unvaccinated residents and 4 times higher in unvaccinated staff.  Vaccinated persons were also much less likely to be hospitalized or die.  Together the studies suggest that even among difficult nursing home populations, vaccination is quite effective.

These researchers from Italy looked at the level of reinfections among people with initial infections in the first wave.  (Medrxiv Paper)   Those persons who were infected last spring were 20 times less likely to be subsequently reinfected than those who had no initial CV-19 infection.  This is indicative of a level of adaptive immunity similar to that created by vaccines.

Another study that compares responses due to infection versus those created by vaccination.  (Medrxiv Paper)   While both created a robust response, infection generated a response with stronger interferon signaling and more prompting of killer cells.  Most B  and T cells in the infected group were effector (meaning it carries out a specific action) cells, while the vaccinated group had greater reliance on B and T  memory  cells.

An interesting study on that tricky cross-reactive immune response topic.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The authors began by trying to devise an antibody assay that would pick up CV-19 antibodies but not those of seasonal coronaviruses.  They compared pre-pandemic blood samples and those from persons with confirmed CV-19 infection.  They found that greater seasonal coronavirus antibody reactivity was associated with a lower likelihood of CV-19 infection and that among CV-19 infected persons, greater seasonal coronavirus was associated with a stronger immune response to CV-19.

This is yet another of what will be many, many studies on vaccine effectiveness in the real world.  This one comes from Sweden and looked at the Pfizer vaccine.  (Medrxiv Paper)   In interpreting these results consider that generally 14 days after the second dose people are considered “fully” vaccinated, but in reality it takes up to a month for the full adaptive immune response to be settled in.  Nonetheless,  for people 7 days or more past the second dose, the vaccine was 86% effective in preventing infection, compared to only 42% for those who were 14 days or more past the first dose.   Among those in the unvaccinated control group, having a prior CV-19 infection was associated with a 91% protection against reinfection.  So both the vaccine and prior infection appear very  effective in preventing a new infection.

The terror campaign led many people to avoid needed health care.  This article, however, details significant forced lack of access to health care, i.e., orders that shut health care providers out from providing elective care, or even being open at all.  The consequences are not good and as usual, the least healthy, poorest among us are affected the most.  (HA Article)





Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Alex says:

    I thought Berenson was actually against all this madness. I’ve followed him for quite some time and was usually a voice of reason. Haven’t checked in though in a while.

  • Ann in L.A. says:

    People somehow have the impression that vaccines create a magic force field around you that prevents virus particles from getting in. So, they write stupid things about it being shocking that vaccinated people are testing positive. They take evidence that vaccines are working perfectly, and somehow make it seem like the opposite. Israel has shown the vaccines are 100% effective at preventing serious illness. *That* is what vaccines do, and Pfizer and Moderna are two of the best vaccines ever created.

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