I am depressed, I admit it. I am tired of trying to constantly present facts, and data, and research and just watching completely insane policy, and then seeing people I respect for opposing some of those actions do stupid things like lie about vaccines. I just can’t give up though, so here we go with more.
Panic and hysteria abound. Idiocy is even more prevalent. The moronic governor of Oregon, last seen deciding that it was inequitable to expect anyone to actually learn math or science, has ordered people to wear masks outside, apparently because they are working so well indoors. There truly is no cure for stupidity.
Here is one sign of sanity, and you have to look to Europe for this, you certainly aren’t going to find it in Australia and New Zealand. Germany isn’t publishing or tracking incidence rates any more, they will rely on hospitalizations instead. Enough with the PCR nonsense. (Germany Story)
Meanwhile, the wave is abating in the South and parts of the Southwest, as seasonality and just time would suggest it would. Next up is to see if we get a renewal across the country as we head into November and December.
Here is my big fear for Minnesota. The state is insisting on a truly absurd testing program for schoolchildren. So I expect and you all should as well, that we are going to see massive numbers of “cases” that aren’t cases. We will see a zillion false positives and a zillion more low positives. We will see schools closed and children sent home. This is absolute pure evil on the part of teachers, administrators, school boards, DOH, and the IB. May you all rot forever in the worst hell you can imagine. Probably surrounded by CV-19 superspreaders with no masks, no plastic barriers and all right up in your face. But seriously, expect a spike in cases. And then we will hear about how Delta is hitting the young harder. All lies. Going to go bang my head on the wall for a while now.
And here is why I hate PCR testing reported without cycle number distribution, without calculation of likely false positive rates and without regular verification by sampling and culturing. Rice University delayed in-person classes because there were a bunch of “positive” tests. Oh no there weren’t. Because the results looked weird, the University retested 50 “positive” people. All but one were in fact negative. Look at the incredibly burdensome and damaging results of PCR testing run amok. (Rice U Story)
I hesitated to publish the data on the proportion of breakthrough cases in Minnesota. As I noted, it is tricky to figure that out, and Dave Dixon did a great job doing the best possible work. We tried to actually be conservative. Given that the lag in identifying breakthroughs is likely longer than that for non-breakthroughs, the proportion is likely higher. But I want to emphasize that I prepare and publish these analyses because the public should always be told the full truth, not some massaged version of selective facts. And if you give people everything and help them understand how to think about what they are seeing, you will actually get less hysteria. The state uses really dumb messaging tactics. They should help people understand comparative per capita rates, and the trends they should expect to see over time. They should provide more complete data to put things in proper context. But they are too busy treating the populace like idiots, which they must get from looking in the mirror too much.
As usual, there is conflicting research on vaccines and the level of protection. This study followed vaxed people for 6 months and found a strong and diverse B memory cell response that recognized all current variants. In addition, the researchers found that T cell responses were strong following mRNA vax. They said that the vax response appeared stronger than that from natural infection, but that the combination of infection and vax did appear to provide yet greater protection. (Medrxiv Paper) The study was done by reputable researchers in the US, but did involve relatively small numbers of patients and the group skewed young.
But this study from Israel finds, as have others, that immunity from infection appears more protective than that from vaccination. (Medrxiv Paper) A good design, comparing fully vaxed, not vaxed, and previously infected but not vaxed, although for some reason that I can’t fathom, they also included single vaccine dose recipients in this last cohort. Not infected but fully vaxed persons had a thirteen times greater likelihood of being infected with Delta compared to the unvaxed but previously infected (but remember who else is in that group). They also had greater risk of hospitalization. Adjusting for certain time limitations imposed in the primary analysis (which I also don’t understand) lowered the comparative effectiveness and demonstrated waning of natural immunity. And you have to read carefully, but it becomes clear that if you only compared the vaxed group with the completely unvaxed but previously infected persons, there is much less of a difference. In fact, it is clear that the combination of prior infection and even a single dose of the vaccine provides the strongest protection. So the study is being used by some people in a misleading manner. The authors made me suspicious because of the manner in which they hyped the results, but I still believe the bulk of the research supports the notion that natural immunity is at least as good as that from vax.
This study from the CDC is an extension of a previous study involving vaxed and unvaxed frontline workers. (CDC Study) The extension covers the time period in which Delta became the dominant strain. 91% of infections among the unvaxed were symptomatic. 81% of infections among the vaxed were symptomatic. The vaccine was 80% effective in preventing infections during the entire study period, but appeared less effective further away from the vaccination date, but that finding had overlapping confidence intervals, indicating lack of certainty. In the Delta period, vaccine effectiveness appeared to drop. 95% of infections in the unvaxed and 75% in the vaxed in this period were symptomatic. So much for Delta leading to more serious disease. Note again that since Delta took over at a time when people were further away from their vaccination date, that is a confounder.
And although Delta is now the dominant variant, we still have people spreading Alpha terror. This study from Scotland claims it both was more transmissible and led to more serious disease, but data from the UK and the US for that matter, contradict that claim. (Medrxiv Paper) I have trouble understanding conflicting results, but in this study, hospitalized patients were over-represented in the sample to begin with and the study covers the front end of the Delta wave. The UK research clearly shows that Alpha appeared more transmissible and more serious initially but that this difference largely disappeared by the time Alpha was displaced.