Just watched the latest podcast by Dr John in which he explains new research out of South Africa:
This is not a three-second-sound-byte type podcast. It is nuanced and looks at the science behind the news, but it is well worth watching from start to finish because it explains the trends that we have been seeing, both in South Africa and more recently in the UK.
By trends I mean, of course, Omicron’s extremely high infection rates coupled with relatively low rates of severe disease and death. According to the research in Dr John’s podcast, these trends are not a fluke. And that spells good news for 2022.
Unfortunately, we’re not there yet. Delta is still around, and it is still causing severe disease and death, so going out and going nuts in the hope of catching Omicron could still see a lot of people ending up with Delta instead. Dying of Delta when the end is literally in sight would be a terrible irony so the Offspring and I are going to stay safely at home until Omicron finishes defeating Delta.
I first heard about the Omicron variant last night, from Dr Norman Swann:
Little is known about the Omicron variant of Covid19, but it is being blamed for a sudden, sharp spike in new infections in South Africa:
Dr John Campbell explains what we know about the new variant, and what it may mean for the pandemic in this must see video:
The dot points I took from the video are:
Omicron has 32 mutations which may make it more infectious than Delta,
The mutations may allow it to elude the immunity supplied by vaccines [ALL vaccines],
No one knows whether Omicron will make you more sick or less,
It has already escaped from South Africa into Hong Kong and Belgium,
Most of Europe and the UK have just banned travel from South Africa,
The travel bans are to give scientists time to find out more about Omicron, and for Pharmaceutical companies to tweak existing vaccines to be more effective against the variant,
Both the US and Australia have adopted a ‘wait and see’ attitude,
By the time we ‘see’ how dangerous Omicron can be, it may well be too late.
On a personal note, I’m booked in for my second AstraZeneca jab this Monday. I was hoping to enjoy a latte before Christmas, but I guess I’ll ‘wait and see’ how bad Omicron gets before the Offspring and I emerge from self-isolation. I really, really hope this variant does turn out to be a ‘storm in a tea cup’. 😦
So, 5,106,876 out of a total population of 25,698,093 won’t be counted at all. AT. ALL. That’s a lot more than I was expecting.
Hmm, if we subtract all those kids from the total population, how many people are left?
25,698,093 – 5,106,876 ————– 20,591,217 ————–
So, only 20,591,217 Australians are actually eligible for the jab.
Hmm, how much is 80% of 20,591,217?
It’s 16,472,973 Australians. [I looked it up]
If we take that number away from the total population [ 25,698,093 ] it means that 9,225,120 Australians of all ages will remain unvaccinated. 9 million people who will be vulnerable to Delta when we reach 80% and the need for lockdowns becomes ‘unlikely’.
Unlikely? We’re going to throw over 9 million people under the Delta bus but yay, we won’t have to have lockdowns?
‘Oh, but kids don’t get that sick…’
At least 1,245 Indonesian children have died from coronavirus since the pandemic began, although the actual number is thought to be higher, given the low level of testing for the virus in remote areas.
The majority of those who died were under the age of five.
According to the Indonesian Paediatric Society (IDAI), more than 100 Indonesian children have died every week since July from COVID-19.
‘Oh, but those that refuse to be vaccinated have only themselves to blame…’
Almost five million people deserve to get sick and possibly die? What sort of a sick society are we?
And what about those for whom the vaccine doesn’t work? Oh…you didn’t think of that, did you?
You know when a vaccine is said to be 90% effective [e.g. Pfizer and Moderna], have you ever wondered what happens to the other 10%?
Well, for that 10% of people, the vaccine won’t work, or will only work partially. And AstraZeneca has an even lower effectiveness rate.
‘Oh…but herd immunity will take care of that!’
Herd immunity is ‘Abracadabra!’ the magic phrase that will solve all our problems. Except it won’t, not with Delta and this first generation of vaccines. Why? Because herd immunity works by surrounding unvaccinated people with a ‘fence’ of vaccinated people. That ‘fence’ stops Covid from being able to reach the unvaccinated people.
But what if there’s a hole in the fence?
In fact, there are two holes in the herd immunity fence. The first one is that breakthrough infections happen, and when they do, the fully vaccinated person is as infectious as if they hadn’t been vaccinated at all. The second is that this crop of vaccines do not provide permanent protection from transmission.
In fact, that protection looks as if it might wear off rather quickly after just four months. This basically means that the fully vaccinated could well end up infecting the unvaccinated themselves…which means:
There will be NO herd immunity.
In a year or two, there may well be vaccines that protect us from serious disease AND from infection. Only then will we finally achieve herd immunity.
Getting back to the Doherty report, their modelling included a number of assumptions based on data from March this year. Back in March, there was very little Delta circulating. Now, it’s running wild. Back in March, we were also delighted to discover that the vaccines provided good protection from transmission. Now we know that protection is short-lived.
Things have changed, but our politicians are still flogging the same plan. Living with Covid is smoke and mirrors with a generous dash of tricky numbers.
My go-to person for Covid19 information is Dr John Campbell, and in the video below, he explains the 3 most recent CDC reports on the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines. There are links to each report.
The second half of the video is an update from France which addresses government strategies to encourage vaccinations:
Of particular interest to me was the comparison between the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. I was also interested in the report from France as some politicians here in Australia are talking about giving vaccinated people privileges over unvaccinated people. This strategy hasn’t gone down well in France, leading to ongoing protests.
Here in Melbourne, we’re only just starting to count the cost of the ‘protest’ staged by a crowd of roughly 4000 people yesterday. Some were obviously trying to keep the protest peaceful, but a far greater number were out to have a brawl with police.
Take a look at the gorilla parading around on top of the tram stop shelter.
Take a good look at those faces. Do they look like people who care about an ideal? Or do they look like a bunch of thugs using the protest as an excuse to have a punch up?
I don’t know who is organising these protests, but I would really like the AFP [Australian Federal Police] to investigate:
Sky News/After Dark [Murdoch-run Newscorp] see Alan Jones below, the Guardian article is an eye-opener.
All of the above have worked tirelessly to undermine Australia’s health response against Covid19. Why? My guess is:
No one has the ‘right’ to act in a way that endangers others. And I don’t give a flying fuck if they believe the Covid conspiracy theories or not. Saying ‘I don’t believe in Covid’ is like saying ‘oh but I didn’t believe the gun was loaded when I pulled the trigger.’
Not one of the morons listed above is medically or scientifically qualified in any way. Not even a little. They are spouting opinions, opinions based on belief. Or perhaps not even belief. Perhaps they simply see a way to exploit this awful pandemic for their own benefit.
In the coming days, the leaked information from the CDC is going to be misrepresented by every anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist and general nutter in the world, so we will need facts to counter the inevitable surge of crazy. We will also need to understand the implications of this data for ourselves.
Point number 1.
We have to understand that all this data is about the Delta variant. Delta is a mutation of the original Covid19 virus and its an order of magnitude more infectious.
The graphic below [taken from the CDC powerpoint slides] compares various forms of infectious diseases. The higher up a disease is located on the graphic, the deadlier it is. The further to the right it is, the more infectious it is.
As you can see, Delta is not very high up on the graphic – i.e. it’s nowhere near as deadly as say Ebola – but it is a long way to the right. That means it is as infectious as chickenpox. And chickenpox is the second most infectious disease of all.
Point number 2.
All of the current, first generation of vaccines were developed in a mad rush…for the Alpha variant of Covid19 – i.e. the original version of the virus. We’re only now starting to get reliable data about how well these vaccines work against Delta.
Point number 3.
Emerging data shows that none of the current vaccines work as well against Delta as they do against the Alpha [original] variant. When it comes to reducing the severity of disease and the likelihood of death, however, they still work extremely well, with a few exceptions.
Point number 4.
The exceptions include people with compromised immune systems, and the elderly. For them, the vaccines do not work as well. The operative phrase here is ‘as well’. That means people with cancer who are on chemo, or those with autoimmune diseases being treated with immuno-suppressant drugs, or steroids or a whole range of other immune system related conditions, all of these people must continue to take extra precautions. These include the wearing of masks, social distancing, not congregating in crowds, hand hygiene etc.
Point number 5.
Apart from the immuno-compromised, the vaccines do NOT provide 100% protection against infection, even for normal, healthy people who are fully vaccinated.
According to the CDC, 35 thousand fully vaccinated people out of a total vaccinated population of 162 million are likely to get what’s called a breakthrough infection. This is when you become infected despite the vaccine. In percentage terms, this is 0.02% of fully vaccinated Americans spread throughout the US.
Point number 6.
Vaccinated people who get breakthrough infections are still far better off than those with no vaccination at all. The graphic below, also taken from the CDC powerpoint slides, shows a side-by-side comparison of vaccinated versus non-vaccinated people:
The green bars represent the unvaccinated population, and the levels of disease, hospitalization and death that they suffer from Delta.
The small blue bars represent the vaccinated population who experience disease, hospitalization and death as a result of breakthrough infection. It’s like comparing an ant to an elephant.
Point number 7.
In my last post I talked about Israeli data showing that Pfizer protection against transmission – i.e. the chance of infecting others even though you yourself are unaffected – drops to about 39% after four months. CDC data shows that if you are fully vaccinated and get breakthrough infection, you will be just as infectious as someone who has no vaccination at all.
This, more than anything else, is why both the US and the UK have mandated mask wearing again. To protect both the unvaccinated AND the vaccinated.
To put this transmission problem into context, we have to remember that these first generation vaccines were designed to reduce serious disease and death if you caught Covid. No one knew whether they would provide any protection against transmission at all.
Then we started getting data from Israel and other places that suggested that yes, not only did the vaccines protect against serious disease and death, they protected against transmission as well! Hooray.
Unfortunately, we did not have all the data back in January and February, 2021. Now in July, we know that the protection against transmission is temporary, at best.
Point number 8.
The implications of this new data are that we will have to continue all the OTHER pandemic precautions as well as getting vaccinated. That means wearing masks in public, social distancing, stringent hygiene, restrictions on congregating in crowds etc. Not the news any of us want to hear, but still miles better than dying.
There will be deaths though. Most will be amongst the anti-everything crowd who won’t get vaccinated, won’t wear masks, won’t accept lockdowns and other public health orders. Sadly there’s not much anyone can do to save those who refuse to be saved.
Our job is to protect ourselves and those we love by continuing to live cautiously until we see what effect booster shots have on Delta. With luck, the boosters will do the trick. If they don’t, we’ll have to live cautiously until the next generation of vaccines are ready.
We’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to get vaccines so quickly, even if they aren’t a magic bullet against Covid. Now we just need to be sensible…and patient. Covid is not finished with us yet. Stay safe. -hugs-