One further point on our detour into DOH’s per capita rates. Dave notes that there has to be something wrong with the death rates published during the Omicron wave. That variant clearly was less severe, but DOH is showing rates among the unvaxed that are higher than in prior waves. Dave is working on this, but unsure he can figure out why, but we believe this cannot possibly be accurate. Some of it may be that in certain age groups, primarily the very old, the unvaxed include a large number of people who are so frail they could not be vaxed, and they have positive tests near death.
We are continuing to see a backtracking on all the epidemic suppression measures which clearly didn’t work. Now all of a sudden we see a lot of research showing the futility of those measures, as well as studies on the harms they did, particularly to child learning. Here is the latest example, on masking children in school. The bottom line on this study is that it shows no benefit to masking kids. The study comes from Spain and compares six year-olds and over who had to mask with five year-olds and younger who didn’t. Younger children were actually less likely to be infected and five and six year-olds, at the boundary, had indistinguishable rates. (SSRN Paper)
Another area I and others have constantly focused on is the negative effects of the epidemic suppression measures. I have been particularly concerned about what I refer to as the “terror” campaign, in which politicians and public health officials constantly stressed danger and used fear. The predictable, at least to anyone who thought about it, effect of that was that people would stay home, including avoiding needed health care. This study from Europe finds high rates of missed health care, which inevitably leads to worsening disease and even death. (Medrxiv Paper)
Another paper finding that prior infection is likely more protective than vax. Qatar is the source as it has been for a lot of good research. The Omicron wave was the setting. CT values, a marker of likely infectiousness and serious illness, were lowest, meaning higher viral loads, early in the wave and higher after the peak. This has been noted in other research and likely reflects a phenomenon in which the most susceptible to infection and serious illness are infected first and spread a lot, and as they are exhausted, the viral loads decline. People who were further away from time of vax also had higher viral loads. People with a prior infection had a lower viral load than those without and appeared to have lower loads than those who were vaxed alone. (Medrxiv Paper)
Trying to understand why epidemic waves have the pattern they do is interesting, but the research has not been that helpful to date. There clearly is a role for superspreaders–people who are both unusually susceptible to infection and high viral loads and are highly infectious, they spew lots of virus and have lots of contacts. This study was a largely theoretical examination of the interaction of characteristics of superspreaders and superspreading events. (Medrxiv Paper)
This study seems to confirm that at least in households, Omicron was more transmissible than Delta. The study was conducted in Norway and found a moderately higher rate of transmission within the household. (JAMA Study)