Despite everyone trying to freak out and keep the terror going, mostly relying on the Delta variant now, there is really not much to be concerned about. And as always seems to be the case, with Delta as with the other variants, the ongoing research shows it actually seems to result in less serious disease and may not be much more transmissible than other strains. And more evidence of how mild Delta is can be found in the most recent of England’s Public Health agency’s series of technical briefs on the variants. (UK Brief) Here is the truth: Delta has a lower hospitalization and lower death case rate. And the supposed gap in secondary transmission rates has continued to fall and the transmissibility of Delta appears similar to that of B117, the previous primary strain. It really is overdue for politicians and supposed public health experts to stop the terrorization.
A fair amount of other research to catch up on as well. You may recall that I noted that one danger from all the virus suppression efforts, especially in regard to children, is that we are weakening their immune systems by reducing challenges to it, and that this weakening will result in an increase in other infections. This article from a UK paper highlights research showing that this in fact has occurred. (Guardian Article) The article focuses on New Zealand but the same phenomenon is occurring elsewhere. The rise in serious infections among children is particularly ironic, as they are at low risk from CV-19, but die more frequently from RSV and other respiratory diseases. Nice balancing of overall risks and harms by our genius experts.
Face masks are completely safe and never lead to any harms, right? Not so, unfortunately for the mask zealots. This study of blood donors found that prolonged mask wearing led to hypoxia, or inadequate oxygen, which is linked to exacerbation of a number of diseases. (PLOS Study)
I also have noted from time-to-time that the creation of dangerous mutations is partly a function of replication opportunities but also a function of selective pressure. In a heavy suppression environment, the survival advantage of more dangerous strains is heightened. (Medrxiv Paper) This paper illustrates some of the dynamics around the effect of suppression measures on a virus. In this case, the authors believe that those measures are resulting in strains that lead to fewer superspreader events, which presumably is a good thing. The researchers further believe that over-dispersion, or a few people being responsible for most transmission, is an unstable viral trait, and that eventually, strains with more homogenous transmission will dominate. Not sure what the mediating factor would be, the authors seem to think it is viral load, and if a strain has a more even viral load across patients, then transmission will also be more evenly distributed. But viral load is as likely due to patient characteristics as to viral ones.
Lot of vaccine research these days, as you would expect. This paper finds that an mRNA vaccine generated antibody and T cell responses similar to those created by infection and that pre-existing cross-reactive T cells led to a stronger response to vaccination. (Medrxiv Paper)
This paper examined over 100 cases of infection after vaccination, although some of the cases were a very short time after the second dose, so the full adaptive immune response had not developed. (Medrxiv Paper) Out of these infections, most had very high cycle numbers and quite a few failed repeat testing. Viral loads were lower in general than in a similar unvaxed group, and the samples were much more likely to not be able to be cultured. The vaccinated individuals had a high upper respiratory tract immune response that likely let to the reduced seriousness of infection.
This study found that there was basically no difference in re-infection risk between those who had been vaccinated and those who had a prior CV-19 infection. In other words, being infected seems to generate as strong an immune response as being vaxed. (Medrxiv Paper)
And another paper demonstrating that vaccines do improve outcomes. The researchers found that the mRNA vaccines led to far fewer hospitalizations even in cases of breakthrough infections. The vaccines were most efficacious in people 50 under, with somewhat reduced effectiveness in the elderly. People on immunosuppression regimes also were more at risk, as you would expect. (Medrxiv Paper)