Estimates of the percent of Americans who have been infected by a CV-19 strain range from 80% to over 90%, with every one of those infectees thereby gaining an immune response to future exposure to the virus. Somewhere around 70% of the population is vaccinated, with a large subset of those having received at least one booster. Nothwithstanding this enormous immune system prompting, we continue to see large numbers of cases, partly because we have not yet dumped our testing obsession. The government is pimping even more boosters, including one supposedly specific to more recent Omicron strains. This is frankly absurd and there is no reason I can see for anyone to get further boosters.
The current strains are very mild. That combined with all the pre-existing immune response means the likelihood of serious disease actually caused by CV-19 is very, very low. I have repeatedly pointed out that all the poking of the immune system has not only diminishing returns but potential paradoxical effects, where you actually leave people more vulnerable. While minor, there are safety issues for some people. And the vaccines are expensive and a potential waste of money that could be better used on other health issues, like all the mental health problems caused by the epidemic response.
In the midst of this the CDC released a study on the new “bivalent” booster, which supposedly protects against multiple CV-19 strains. The actual results of the study are embarrassingly modest, consistent with other research. The new booster offers almost no protection against infection for any meaningful period of time. As is always the case with CDC-published research, there are methodological issues. The study was conducted from September 14, 2022 through November 11. It involved people who tested positive at a retail pharmacy in that period. No attempt to meaningfully control for the single biggest confounder–prior infection, in fact, those with prior positive tests within 90 days were excluded from the study. And as usual, the CDC buries any nugget that might not fit with the “vax 80 times message”. In this study one such nugget was that people who had a prior infection more than 90 days before the test included in the study were half as likely to have a positive test as those who didn’t. The followup period is obviously ludicrously short to assess any real effectiveness for a meaningful period of time.
Older people are clearly most at risk from CV-19, so you would like the vaccines to be most effective in older people. This booster isn’t. For people who are only 2-3 months out from the most recent dose before this booster, effectiveness against infection was 30% in 18 to 49 year olds, 31% in 50 to 64 year olds and 28% in those over 65. If you were more than 8 months out from your last dose of vax, effectiveness was 56% in 18-49, 48% in 50-64, and 43% in those 65 and over. Not clear why there is more divergence by age for the longer period since last dose. What it really appears to show is how quickly effectiveness from any dose lessens.
This nominal effectiveness immediately after receipt of the new booster is pathetic and I would anticipate it will diminish to zero within about 4 months, at most. So boost if you want to, but don’t expect any benefit. (CDC Study)