Gotta say, when I started this series, I thought it wouldn’t even make it to 100, I thought we were done with the panic and hysteria. I underestimated the cowardice of most politicians (not you Gov. DeSantis); the incompetence of career bureaucrats who wouldn’t last a month in a private sector job; and frankly, the ignorance and obeisance of much of the American populace, who appear willing to walk into the gas showers without a peep if told to do so. If you think the whacko progressives can’t turn this into a totalitarian country, think again. So I plod on, striving for rationality and balance. Ever the hopeless romantic, notwithstanding the skeptical bent.
Silver lining, bye bye Dem majorities in the House and Senate and a lot of other places, and maybe at some point this wakes enough people up to the danger of allowing any person or persons to have this kind of power and the folly of trusting anyone who calls themself an expert, instead of using your own faculties to understand truth. I don’t hate Dems but I hate so-called progressive policies that will set this country back 50 years and destroy the quality of life and opportunity for tens of millions, mostly the poor and minorities. And these absolute, excuse my French, assholes have taken full advantage of the epidemic to try to foist their disastrous ideology on every corner of the country. Fight back, people, fight back.
Want to make an important point about vaccine effectiveness studies. Many don’t have a comparative group that includes people who were infected and therefore presumably have immunity. At almost none do antibody tests to verify whether people in the comparator group had prior infection. The failure to include those groups, makes the vaccines look less effective than they actually are. If you lump the previously infected but unvaxed, in with the vaxed, you are introducing a serious confounder. The true comparison of vaccine effectiveness is against those who are unvaxed and who never had a prior infection. You can do, as some studies have, an additional comparison of natural immunity versus vaccination, but the primary analysis should be vaxed versus people who aren’t vaxed and who have no history of infection, including by antibody test.
This is mean, but I wondered how well our friend Andy Slavitt’s book on how he tried to save us all from the evil Trump epidemic policies was selling on Amazon. The answer appears to be that it isn’t. Not in the list of top 100 sellers. If anyone can find out where it is on the list let me know. Feel sorry for that charity that thought it was actually going to get some money from the book.
Want to read up on all those terrifying variants, here is the place. The latest technical brief from the UK. (UK Brief)
Children rarely, rarely have severe CV-19 illness, and when they do, it is usually in children with serious pre-existing illnesses. This study examined illness characteristics in severely ill children. (Lancet Study) The research comes from the UK and includes children aged 5 to 17. There were few children with symptomatic illness and those symptoms generally lasted less than a week. A few children reported symptoms for almost two months, but interestingly, more children who were CV-19 negative reported very long lasting illness symptoms than did those with CV-19, indicating that it isn’t unusual for children with other diseases to have extended illness.
When you look at infections among the vaxed, it is important to keep in mind that for any set number of people, the number of those infections will increase over time, making the rate look like it is going up, but that isn’t unexpected. In any constant population, unless an event stops happening altogether, the rate is always increasing, can’t go down. The rate of change in the rate over a unit of time is more important to measure, to see if the trend is changing. This study looked at whether infections in vaxed people appeared to increase over time. (Medrxiv Paper) It comes from Israel and it is not particularly good news. There was a greater rate of infection among those who had been vaccinated around five months or more before a positive test than those who were vaccinated earlier. This would indicate a waning of the protective effect of the vaccine. This is bolstered by the fact that the effect is most noticeable among those over age 60, consistent with general lower effectiveness of vaccines in this age group.
Infection with CV-19 provides a strong adaptive immune response to further exposure, perhaps as good or better than vaccination, although the research is mixed there. This is another study looking at the response of previously infected persons to vaccination. (Medrxiv Paper) One dose of vaccine prompted a response in previously infected persons that was as strong as that after two doses in those who had not been infected. It appeared that the overall response in these persons may have been somewhat more robust and durable as well.
Now, when it is too late, the CDC and others are concerned about setting realistic expectations about the prevalence of breakthrough infections. Here is a study which attempts to estimate the number of such infections. The authors project that there were about 50,000 such infections among 77 million vaxed persons through April. The rate can only go up, as is the case with any rate, but it is low. The authors, however, indulge themselves in the common delusion that at some point transmission will cease; that CV-19 will essentially disappear. Ain’t happening. (Medrxiv Paper)
I think the jury is still out on whether Delta infection is associated with substantially higher viral loads. It is a tricky analysis because of a number of biasing and confounding factors, like the rate of infection detection in an increasingly vaccinated population. This study from the Netherlands suggests that loads are substantially higher. (RS Article) The researchers used samples of Alpha, Delta or the original strains. Now recall that originally we were hearing how much more transmissible Alpha was and that it was due to higher viral loads. This study finds that the median cycle number for original strains was 19, for Alpha 18 and for Delta 16. The average was 19.48 for original strains, 18.81 for Alpha and 16.71 for Delta. The difference between median and average tells you that there are a lot more low viral loads than high ones. And here are the sample numbers, 631 for original strains, 1240 for Alpha and only 87 for Delta. I predict that when you have as many samples for Delta as for the others, the cycle numbers will be quite similar. We are seeing front-loading at work, where the most susceptible to infection and to being superspreaders, get infected earlier and have higher viral loads. Would have been very helpful for the researchers to distinguish samples from vaxed, unvaxed but previously infected, and unvaxed but never infected groups.
Another study indicates that the myocarditis and periocarditis are likely associated with receipt of the vaccines. (JAMA Article) Over two million persons who had been vaccinated were included and there were a total of 57 diagnoses of these diseases, so small numbers. Nineteen of these persons were admitted to a hospital, but stays were short. There were no readmissions and no deaths. But the rate was higher than the rate in the general population prior to the vaccination program. Keep in mind, however, that the rates of these events as complications of CV-19 infection is far higher.
For those who think it isn’t true that the lockdowns and terror campaign deterred people from seeking needed care, yet another study showing they did. This one comes from France and finds an 18% decline in stroke admissions. Failure to seek care for these symptoms likely means death. (Medrxiv Paper)
The primary risk factors for serious CV-19 illness are obviously age, and studies increasingly show, obesity. This research from Brazil confirms that obesity is perhaps the leading risk factor for hospitalization. (Medrxiv Paper)