I am tired of this, you are tired of this, we all are tired of this, but the bitter clingers in government and public health are doing their best to not find a graceful way to say we have to stop obsessing about the epidemic. We have Fauci, who no longer deserves to have the doctor title, and who is irredeemable in his refusal to admit error, saying that maybe we should all skip holiday celebrations again. We have people talking about vaccine mandates that only hurt the ability to provide health care and fill other needed jobs (but of course, the teachers’ unions are making sure they don’t apply to them). We have continued irrational testing policies, especially in regard to schools, that only lead to legions of false and low positives, again causing substantial disruption to children’s education.
On the positive side, in most states a lot of people have adjusted to reality, most people are out and about and most are not using masks, which shows good judgment. Notwithstanding the huge rise in mobility and contacts, including in mass events like football games, and the large decline in mask wearing, we see case declines in most of the country and muted rises in the rest. Almost certainly a result of vaccines, prior infections, and seasonal factors.
And on the vaccines, it is fairly clear that effectiveness against infection drops very significantly within a few months, and that drop is most pronounced among the old. And for the old, there is limited protection against hospitalization or death. Reminds me of the movie series Final Destination. When it is your time, it is your time. We are not being given good data on breakthroughs because the powers that be are terrible communicators and decision-makers. They don’t know how to explain breakthrough events in light of the continued promises that the vaccines would end the epidemic. If they had been realistic in setting expectations in the first place, it would be easy now to say: okay the vaccines are out there, we have done everything we can, so no more exceptional, emergency responses to the epidemic. But as a class, politicians, and public health experts, appear to be pretty stupid.
Pediatricians in Belgium apparently actually care about children and doing what is in their best interest. The association there has come out strongly against masking children and taking other steps like crazy quarantine rules that limit children’s access to educational and social experiences. (Belgium Story)
The State of Minnesota and other governments refuse to give us routine information on the distribution of PCR cycle numbers, which is critical data to show how many “positives” are likely actual infectious people, to track the trends in the epidemic and to ascertain association with serious illness. Here is yet another study showing the value of such data even in individual cases, as it may assist clinicians in treating patients. (Medrxiv Paper)
Yet another paper on what happens with neutralizing antibodies following vaccination. Neutralizing antibodies are those that bind to the virus’ receptor binding area and prevent cell entry. Generally speaking, levels declined significantly over the two to six month period following vaccination, but there was wide variability, with some people never having much of a response and others maintaining very high levels even at six months. Some suggestion that Moderna produced better response than Pfizer and some suggestion that Delta was less effectively neutralized than other dominant strains. (Medrxiv Paper)
If you want to get further depressed about vaccine effectiveness, you can read the weekly UK reports (why is data so much better from that country than here? the CDC should be mortified at its comparative awful reporting). Over the last few weeks these show a continuing drop in prevention of infection. You have to be careful not to over-interpret, but even correctly understood, it is clear that over time effectiveness lessens significantly. (UK Reports)
This study from Switzerland, a country with universal health insurance, finds a fair amount of foregone care during the epidemic. About 8% of respondents to a survey reported missing health care visits, with 50% of those saying it was because of cancellation by the provider and 35% saying it was due to fear of getting infected. (Medrxiv Paper)
This study on the topic of cross-reactive antibody response from seasonal coronavirus infections to CV-19 was done in children and finds no significant evidence of neutralization of CV-19 by such antibodies. But that is an incomplete picture, as other aspects of such a response may in fact act to aid in limiting infections. (Medrxiv Paper)