Here we are in 2023 and there are still people obsesses with CV-19, including some areas forcing school children to mask. We still have hysteria about every new variant. We still have people pimping vaccines even though 90% plus of the population is vaxed and/or has had an infection. Neither of those events provides an immune response strong enough to prevent a future “infection”, whatever that is at this point. The reason is clear, our bodies don’t think CV-19 is much of a threat so they aren’t going to waste energy on an excessive response to it. We are still making up data on hospitalizations and deaths, way over-attributing these events to CV-19. But to be brutally honest, at this point, what else would we expect in our clearly gone mad country. We are run by lunatics, there is simply no reason to expect rational policy.
Pe0ple have asked what is going on in China, with the supposed end of zero-CV-19 policy there. I have believed that China’s response to the epidemic has two primary driving forces. One was national pride, a determination to show that it could minimize infections and morbidity, especially since it was the origin of the epidemic. The second is that realistically, if the virus caused large amounts of serious disease, China really does not have the health resources to handle those cases. The country has a low number of hospital beds per unit of population and other limits on its health care services.
But at some point, the economic and psycho-social consequences of constant lockdowns and other suppression measures were just going to be too costly, and that is where China has gotten to. A good proportion of the population is vaccinated, current variants are pretty mild and I believe that leadership just decided now was the time to move to more reasonable approach. And I think China is the best example of what I have said all along. Trying to suppress this virus is futile, it can’t be done, better to do your best with vaccines and hope that prior infections also boost population immunity to the point where we are not seeing more serious disease than we typically see with respiratory viruses. And we aren’t, so as I keep suggesting, time to move on. Travel bans from China and requiring negative tests is also pointless theater.
This paper from the estimable John Ionnaidis research group attempts to estimate mortality in China following the change in policy. They applied the experience of South Korea and Hong Kong, which also had high Omicron waves after having low infection rates for most of the epidemic, to China, and found a wide range of potential deaths depending on how much of the population was infected and how well the elderly population was protected. The primary estimates suggested around 200,000 to 250,000 deaths through the summer of 2023, which is a lot higher than I would have expected. Some of their estimates under different assumptions were even higher. (Medrxiv Paper)
A Chinese company has developed an antibody-based nasal spray which supposedly will be effective in preventing or limiting CV-19 infection. In a randomized trial, infection rates were much lower among the group that took the spray daily than in the control group with no spray. While it is a somewhat logical approach to try to block infection in the nasal passages, I am pretty dubious about the notion of having people as a preventative measure take antibodies every day. I am sure there are drug companies that would love this, however. (Medrxiv Paper)
And here in the US people keep developing antibody treatments, at a pretty high cost, which when administered early in an infection may limit the risk of serious disease. For this particular antibody therapy, sotrovimab, use among a population of high risk veterans appeared to limit hospitalization. (Medrxiv Paper)
The role of immune responses to prior coronavirus infections was studied early in the epidemic in the hopes that such responses might limit CV-19 infections or disease severity. While some cross-reactivity was found, it was obviously not sufficient to seriously limit spread. A new paper focuses on T cell responses, as did much of the earlier work. Among people who had a CV-19 infection there was substantial cross-reactivity against all SARS-type variants. Among this group and vaxed persons, the activity was lower in regard to Omicron. Some people had cross-reactive T cell responses in regard to seasonal coronaviruses and some seasonal coronaviruses showed activity against CV-19 variants. (Medrxiv Paper)
I don’t know what to think of Ivermectin, which has widely varying findings regarding potential use to prevent or treat CV-19 invection. This paper, from a seemingly reputable group supported by French government funding, finds that the spike protein of CV-19, and all coronaviruses, has a tendency to promote blood coagulation, which apparently is reversed, in vitro–or when studied outside the body, by application of Ivermectin. Omicron variants appeared to have a stronger coagulation effect, which is interesting since they also seem to result in far lower rates of serious disease. Since the vaccines use spike protein, continued surveillance for coagulation issues is appropriate, particularly with any Omicron specific vax. (IJMS Paper)
Heart inflammation among young males following vax is a reason to limit use of vaccines in this group. Why some develop this condition is not clear. A new study finds no difference in immune response between a vaxed group that developed heart inflammation and one that didn’t, but did find higher levels of circulating spike protein in the myocarditis group. The study suggests that an overactive immune response is not the cause of the heart inflammation, but spike protein could be. Interestingly, no circulating free spike protein was found in adults post vax, suggesting that younger males and females may respond to vax differently, although females had far lower rates of heart inflammation. Although the authors say it is unlikely that prior infection plays a role, not clear how well they studied whether their patients had a prior infection or what the effect of those infections might be. (Circ. Article)
This study from a large population in Israel finds that a dose of the bivalent vaccine in the 70 days post-receipt substantially reduced the risk of hospitalization or death due to CV-19 in people aged 65 or over. Not clear how well prior infection status was taken into account. I am still dubious about the value of further boosters. (SSRN Paper)
It is a pretty common finding now that neither vax nor prior infection provides a strong neutralizing antibody response to current Omicron variants, and this paper from Germany comes to the same conclusion. The vast majority of the hospitalized patients in the study had either been vaxed or had a prior infection, and most had both experiences. People with prior infections had stronger anti-spike antibody responses, as did those with multiple vaccinations. But activity against the current fear-mongered most common Omicron variant, BQ.1.1., was low. (Medrxiv Paper)