In my search for a state of sanity, had to bop to Florida for a quick business trip, so a little delayed here.
There is so much craziness in the world and our nation these days you hardly know where to start. There is no resort to reason. What did Yeats say in that wonderfully chilling poem: “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity….And what rough beast, its hour come at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.”
If you think that things always work out, always turn out okay; you are wrong.
The FDA advisory committee basically ignored its responsibility yesterday and recommended the vaccines for kids 5 to 11 even while acknowledging they had no real evidence to demonstrate safety. Given the small risks to children from CV-19, any reasonable risk/benefit calculation in regard to their vaccination would have to show that the vaccine was essentially completely harmless to children to avoid doing more damage to their health than good. I doubt that is the case given what we have already seen in terms of heart inflammation in somewhat older children. One committee member basically said that we just have to start giving it to them and see what happens. Treating children like a massive experiment!! Oh wait, that is what progressives think we should do with school anyway, treat kids as a social experiment and as ideological tools.
During the course of the epidemic people start throwing a lot of terms around as though they really understand what they mean and often did so without thinking about how the concept actually works and what it may mean in a specific situation. I have tried to encourage people to think carefully about such basic terms as what it means to be “infected’ or “infectious” and what adaptive immunity actually does and how population immunity affects a pathogen. Another term that comes up in regard to vaccines’ long-term effect is “original antigenic sin”, which sounds like something weird and kind of is. The notion basically is that whatever exposure creates your initial immune response to a pathogen, limits future responses. So if it is a vaccine, it might actually limit the ability to respond to new variants. One popular piece found here explains the concept in detail. (AIS Article) While the article may or may not accurately reflect all the science, it definitely is true that our immune system can have trouble coping with pathogens, like respiratory viruses, that frequently mutate. But generally the system is capable of limiting an infection and serious illness. And I don’t know that a vaccine is any worse in this regard than just being infected. While we can’t get great data, it appears that people endure reinfections in some numbers, just as breakthrus occur.
And what does it mean to be an “expert”? You might assume that it would mean that such a person has a relevant body of knowledge which can be applied to recommendations and decisions, and that these recommendations and decisions will then have a high likelihood of successfully creating the desired outcome. If that is your definition, you would obviously be wrong in regard to CV-19. And here is one more example of the stupidity of experts, compared to what common sense would suggest. This study looked at paying people to get vaccinated. It doesn’t work. The test was conducted among vaccine hesitant Medicaid recipients and tested paying them various amounts of money as well as using different messages. Not only did the measures make no difference, they may have actually hardened attitudes about not getting vaccinate. Reminds me of early studies we did at UnitedHealth on how to improve general vaccine uptake for children. Not much made a bit of difference. (NBER Study)
And more expert moronery. The United Kingdom spending watchdog concludes that the $37 billion the country has spent so far on “test and trace” was a complete waste. The theory is that if you test everyone every minute of the day and test everyone they were within 20 miles of, you can stop spread. Right. Works just as well in Minnesota and the US. Colossal flushing of dollars down the toilet. Can’t be done right, and even if it could, wouldn’t make any difference. But the test companies and the contact tracers made lots of money. (UK Story)
And another study quantifies the lifelong damage we have done to children from disrupting their education. Of course, this is worse for minorities and low-income pupils. But we just had to protect the teachers, right? (NBER Study)
Kind of a fun study on the impacts of having influenza during the 1968 epidemic on CV-19 outcomes. Geographic cohorts which experienced greater mortality during that epidemic seemed to be hit less hard by CV-19, suggesting some beneficial general priming of the immune system. (Medrxiv Paper)
This study followed health care workers for a few months after vaccination and found a number of breakthru infections, all of which were mild or asymptomatic. There was no difference in the initial antibody response to vaccination and the risk of an infection, but Delta and Alpha did seem more likely to cause a breakthru infection. (Medrxiv Paper)
This study from Germany was looking at ethnic and other socio-demographic factors related to risk of infection in children. But the most interesting finding was that 41% of all such infections were asymptomatic. As you would expect, minority status and lower household incomes were more associated with infection likelihood. (Medrxiv Paper)