Skip to main content

Coronamonomania Lives Forever, Part 13

By August 29, 2021Commentary

A couple of commenters have noted that I seem to be very frustrated and too pointed in regard to vaccine doubters. That may be true, but there is a good reason for it.  There is an immense amount of misinformation being spread about vaccines, and if that misinformation keeps people who could benefit from being vaccinated from doing so, that is not a good thing.  People are making political statements and acting on beliefs and talking about distrust of government.  Those are not substitutes for rational decision-making.  I try to report on the research and data as it comes, including everything I can on vaccine effectiveness and safety.  I understand FDA processes pretty well, having run a clinical trials organization and being involved in drug development for many years.  I understand how vaccines work and I have realistic expectations about how a respiratory virus vaccine would work.  I have tried to explain that and set those expectations since before the vaccines were actually approved for use.  The data and research so far tell me that the vaccines are safe and are effective against serious disease.  So yes, I get a little tired of having to respond to “what about long-term safety studies” and other relatively uninformed remarks and I am definitely fed up with the conspiracy crap.  I have been as critical as anyone about government messaging and distrust of public health experts who have become politicized, but I can also read the research and data and come to my own conclusions.   And those conclusions are what I share with you.

And while I vehemently disagree with Alex Berenson on vaccines, there is no way he should be suspended from Twitter.  It is unconscionable that these large social media companies are purporting to be deciders about what is accurate, particularly given that they are totally ideological and political organizations.  I am hoping that Alex sues and I have offered to provide financial support for that if he needs it.  And we need a total change in how these entities are regulated.  If they want to be responsible for content, then they can take the liability that goes along with that.

I like to start off with bad news.  The terror campaign associated with attempts to suppress the virus led many people to avoid needed health care.  This study from Canada attempted to assess the likely toll of this missed care in regard to cancer.  It estimated that from 2020 to 2030, over 20,000 additional cancer deaths would occur, and many of these are younger persons than typically die from CV-19, so I believe that alone would be higher toll in years of life lost that was caused by the virus, which in Canada right now has only caused around 26,000 deaths.   (Medrxiv Paper)

This article from England details data regarding hospitalizations in that country.  (UK Article)   I am trying to locate the actual data but according to the article many current hospitalizations attributed to CV are not for treatment and many stays for CV are very short.  By August 15, 43% of Delta-infected persons had actually been admitted for another reason and 60% were discharged within one day of admission.  Unvaxed persons were disproportionately rsponsible for hospitalizations.

And this study from the US looks at hospitalizations among vaxed and unvaxed persons.  Unvaxed persons were far more likely to be hospitalized when infected.  Breakthrough hospitalizations were concentrated among the elderly, especially in LTC facilities, and those with poor health status.  By July, 16% of hospitalizations were breakthroughs, but again, this is a result of high percents of vaxed persons in the population.  I have documented the same phenomenon in Minnesota.  And in July, unvaxed persons had ten times the hospitalization rate.  And I want to note again, that since vaxed people are more likely to have asymptomatic infections, this probably understates the protective effect of vaccination.  And once again, data was not available on the unvaxed who might have been infected, so the protective effect of vaccination may be understated.  (Medrxiv Paper).

I think some of the most meaningful data and analyses that could be done right now are comparisons between breakthrough infections after vaccination and reinfections among unvaxed but previously infected persons, properly adjusted for all confounders.  I suspect that such analyses, if properly done, would show that the reinfection rate is lower than the breakthrough infection rate, indicating that adaptive immunity via infection is at least as strong as adaptive immunity after vaccination.  One reason I think this may be true is that the vaccines are not as optimal as they could be since they only create a response to spike protein.  This study examines reinfection rates  among NBA players and staff, who were required to undergo regular testing.  (JID Study)   Out of 768 infected persons, over a 6 month period only 7 experienced reinfection, less than 1%.  These persons were all asymptomatic or mildly infected and viral loads were far lower than for primary infections.

It appears that vaccine protection from infection lessens over time.  This study from Qatar looked specifically at that issue.  The country has a high vaccination rate and good data gathering infrastructure.  The study period was from January 1 to August 15.  Effectiveness against any infection reached a peak at around 72% around five weeks after vaccination and declined thereafter.  Effectiveness against serious illness or death reached 94% and stayed at that level for the 6 month maximum followup period.  One thing this suggests to me is that other aspects of the immune response than antibodies are involved in protecting against serious illness.   (Medrxiv Paper)

This was another study comparing antibody development from vaccination versus infection.  One of the findings again is the variability in measurements from different assay types.  But over a year, antibody strength, while declining in the infected patients still remained relatively high, whereas in vaccinated persons the antibodies were initially much higher than in infected persons, but began to decline within a three month period.  (Medrxiv Study)

And this study looked at the effectiveness of prior infection or infection plus vaccination against variants.  It found that patients with prior infection or vaccination had a fairly good response against the variants, but that response was boosted by subsequent vaccination.  (Medrxiv Paper)

Okay, here is a study from Mongolia of all places, but it looked at four different vaccines including a Russian and Chinese one.  (Medrxiv Paper)   The Chinese and Russian vaccines prompted less strong antibody development.  There was less neutralization of variants.  Prior or subsequent infection coupled with vaccination appeared to prompt the strongest antibody development.  Breakthrough infections appeared more correlated with the development of low antibody levels, as opposed to infection by a variant.


Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • Arne Christensen says:

    My general attitude about the quality of Berenson’s tweets is that you can’t demand much from people on Twitter. He was providing volumes of interesting material for free. Ignore what you don’t like and pay attention to what you value. The bigger problem lies with Twitter, not with him.

  • Abhijit Bhakshi says:

    Remind me, why is it uninformed to wonder about long-term safety?

    Is there some information proving these vaccines safe in the long term? Please share if so, otherwise I’ll continue to wonder.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      So what are you saying, the FDA should never approve anything without five years of follow-up, ten? 15? Not how it ever has or ever will worked, which anyone familiar with FDA processes would know

  • Abhijit Bhakshi says:

    “It appears that vaccine protection from infection lessens over time.  This study from Qatar looked specifically at that issue.”

    Good to finally see this concession on this site. Alex Berenson has been raising this issue for months now at this point. Seems he was right.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      for someone who thinks they are so smart, you have a blind spot a mile wide. The study says that effectiveness against infection lessened, but against hospitalization and death remained high. Which would you rather have?

  • Abhijit Bhakshi says:

    For any interested readers who want to learn about the world outside of vaccines (which for some reason everyone is obsessed with to the point of insanity), this video has Dr. Peter McCullough testifying on the effectiveness of early treatment of COVID-19 in preventing hospitalization and consequently death. He’s eloquent and informative.

    Watch if you’re interested in something other than a steady diet of “take the vaccine, rube”.

  • David Krieg says:

    What I can’t get past is the mass hysteria or, as another blogger described it, “mass hypnosis” of societies about a virus that has a very high survivability percentage. The 24/7 ticker tape is “Covid kills! Vaccinations are the only way! No vaccination means you are selfish and uncaring of others!” It’s like a little kid wore a dragon costume, everyone started running/panicking, yelling as they ran, “There’s a deadly dragon loose!” When someone takes the mask off the kid and tries to explain it’s just a kid, their voice is drowned out by the masses who are still running from the “deadly dragon.”
    Critical thinking isn’t promoted with other data; therapeutics that work, good health practices, real adverse effects from vaccinations, senseless masks. You can’t even have a logical conversation with most people and how many have lost their jobs for not accepting that “2 + 2 = 5”. Western countries that used to have some semblance of freedom are now beating and arresting their citizens who don’t follow gov’t’s dictates on covid, “for their safety.”

  • Corey says:

    I won’t even pretend to know anything about the FDA approval process, but I think the reason regular folks like me question it is because we wonder if the FDA has been corrupted like every other federal agency under the sun (see CDC, DEA, US Military, EPA, IRS, DOL, etc.). The official process doesn’t matter if the folks at the top can overrule it. I did a little research on the last few FDA commissioners. Turns out almost all of them have gone on to careers with the very pharmaceutical companies they oversaw during their time with the FDA. How is that ethical or even legal? Yet we are supposed to believe these folks are objective? I’m sorry, but I don’t have the same trust in government that you do. These people are human like the rest of us and smart enough to know that if they approve multi-billion dollar drugs, that gives them better career options after their time at the FDA.

    Here’s some information on previous FDA commissioners (you can look this up yourself to verify):

    Stephen Hahn 12/17/19-1/20/21 Moderna Venture Firm – Chief Medical Officer

    Scott Gottlieb 5/11/17-4/5/19 Pfizer Board of Directors
    Robert Califf 2/24/16-1/20/17 Cytokinetics Board of Directors
    Margaret Hamburg 5/22/09-4/4/15 Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Board of Directors
    Andrew von Echenbach 12/13/06-1/20/09 BioTime Board of Directors, also previously as Viamet Board of Directors
    Von Eschenbach was criticized for overruling his staff recommendations, and approving the Menaflex knee implant, made by ReGen Biologics Inc., New Jersey, on a fast-track basis, after four New Jersey congressmen lobbied on ReGen’s behalf. Von Eschenbach said, “We fumbled that process.”

    Lester Crawford 7/18/05-9/23/05 Became lobbyist for Policy Directions Inc.
    Last October Dr. Crawford pleaded guilty to two charges: failing to report that he and his wife owned shares in companies regulated by the agency and filing false financial reports. The reports are required by US law. The companies included Pepsico, Kimberly-Clark, and Sysco. At the time Dr Crawford was head of the FDA’s obesity working group.

    • Kevin Roche says:

      I know all about the FDA, you should worry more about incompetence and less about corruption. But we have lots of external research now as well. And people still just say crazy things, like the vaccines didn’t have trials–they had huge trials, or they are gene therapy. That is what frustrates me.

  • Sue Beer says:

    Back in the day (2020) when HCQ came on the scene, Trump noted that it could be a gamechanger. Fauci poo-pooed it because the drug needed studies and could take 5-10 years. That is when I lost all confidence in him. This was a drug that had been around “forever” and was considered safe.

  • Richard Vozzolo says:

    I appreciate your work. Have you considered the views of Dr. Luc Montagnier and Dr. Vanden Bossche? Both independently share the view that the vaccines are causing the pandemic to expand. Here is a link to the article that the author states ” This article simplifies their controversial messages without losing their essential meanings.” It’s a short read and i would appreciate your take on the two virologists’ warnings.
    thank you

  • Abhijit Bhakshi says:

    Kevin, I think you’re missing the point about the FDA and long term effects. They aren’t related..

    Our point is simply that many drugs have significant negative long term effects. Just because they aren’t known yet does not mean they do not exist. The possibility of these long-term effects is part of the risk reward weighing process. And since no one, not you, not the FDA, not me, no one, knows the long term effects you can’t simply call people dummies if they choose to weigh the risk differently than you would have.

    Again, to stress, this has nothing to do with the FDA. For many of us, the FDA, its decisions, its process, its revolving door between the drug industry and senior FDA bureaucrats, they are all irrelevant. We make our own health decisions on the merits. We would like it to stay that way but vaccine obsession, leading in many places to outright vaccine coercion, is threatening that.

  • Corey says:

    Kevin – you’re saying we should worry more about incompetence at the FDA than corruption. Now I’m concerned about both. Here’s a story from today outlining the “objective” FDA process, which sounds like it has no undue political influence (sarcasm):

    “A former senior FDA leader told Endpoints that they’re departing because they’re frustrated that CDC and their ACIP committee are involved in decisions that they think should be up to the FDA. The former FDAer also said he’s heard they’re upset with CBER director Peter Marks for not insisting that those decisions should be kept inside FDA. What finally did it for them was the White House getting ahead of FDA on booster shots.”

Leave a comment