The anti-vax liars, and I am not mincing words about it any more, love to rely on faulty excess death analyses to claim the vax are responsible, even though they have not one shred of proof of that. Now this piece of research has its own issues, but it doesn’t quite seem to support the anti-vax hypothesis. Researchers took 2015-2019 mortality trends as the baseline and compared deaths during the Delta wave and the Omicron wave. They compared the US to 20 developed countries and they compared the 10 most and least vaxed states in the US. The US supposedly had significantly more deaths than any other country on a per capita basis, and deaths were supposedly much higher in the vaxed versus relatively unvaxed states. The big problem with the state comparison is there is no adjustment for relative infection rates among states or for minority status or general health status by state, which are large and obvious confounders. But as I said, there is absolutely nothing here to suggest that in any manner vax are contributing to excess deaths, quite the opposite. (JAMA Article)
Health Affairs has a couple of interesting mortality articles which attempt to isolate the effect of the recession and the epidemic on death trends. Some causes of mortality rose, such as drug deaths and homicides, while others fell, including surprisingly, suicides. While attribution to recession versus epidemic is sketchy, this is a more sophisticated framework to try to understand mortality by specific health cause. (HA Article)
I have mentioned a few times the hypothesis that an infection with one virus may limit infections by others, a phenomenon know as viral interference, a process which appears to be mediated by biochemicals appropriately referred to as interferons. This article is a good summary of that phenomenon. (Science Article)
This study from France indicates that just as with vax, the protection against reinfection from a prior infection lessens over time and is somewhat variant dependent. As you would expect, pre-Omicron infections are less protective against subsequent infections than are prior Omicron infections. (Medrxiv Study) Similar conclusions were reached in this study, with a finding that a Delta infection provided no protection against a recent Omicron variant infection and minimal effectiveness at reducing hospitalization risk, while vax provided only slightly better protection, and an early Omicron infection had modest effectiveness. (Medrxiv Study) And one more along the same lines from Sweden, again showing some effectiveness from a prior Omicron infection against a later one, but waning over time. (Medrxiv Paper)
So a quick comment on those three studies, which is an observation I have made before. The human body is shaped by evolution and is quite intelligent and efficient in its basic systems. This includes the immune system, which isn’t going to waste a lot of time on cells and other components to be sentinels against what it perceives as a relatively non-threatening illness. And that is apparently how the body sees CV-19, since it does not maintain a strong monitoring presence for re-infections.
There are probably many reasons why some people get very sick from a CV-19 infection and most don’t. At an immune system level, this study finds that the strength of some early interferon responses seems to play a key role in keeping infections mild. (Medrxiv Paper)
It is hard to find people who are neither vaxed nor had a prior infection, but this US study purports to identify such a cohort of patients and study their outcomes during Omicron as compared to Delta. No Delta infections were asymptomatic compared to 7% of Omicron. Seeking health services and worse outcomes were far more common with Delta infections. All this suggests that the Delta version of the virus had some aspects that led to worse disease than does Omicron. (Medrxiv Study)