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’. 😦
The numbers are in: neither natural infection NOR vaccination will provide herd immunity in the near future.
Why? Because herd immunity implies permanent immunity, and it ain’t happenin’. BOTH types of immunity wane within a matter of months, not years.
Antibodies are produced after your body either fights off a natural infection or is immunized via vaccine. The numbers show that well over 90% of people 18 and over [in the UK] have already produced antibodies against Covid. As the vaccination rates are nowhere near that high, those figures must include people who have developed natural antibodies as well.
Yet infection rates are soaring.
Clearly herd immunity has not been achieved. Herd immunity describes what happens when a virus can’t spread because it keeps bumping up against people who are already immune to it. Those people provide a barrier between the virus and those who are not immune…the fresh meat.
We’ve known about the vaccines’ immunity waning since early 2021 when information started coming out of Israel about Pfizer, but we haven’t had definitive proof that natural infection waned as well. Now we do. Both types of immunity:
reduce the likelihood of death and/or severe disease,
but neither will last forever,
and neither will permanently stop the spread of infection:
In the video, Dr John shows that both UK health and the CDC in the US have admitted that herd immunity is most unlikely, at least in the near future. Covid19-Delta has become ‘endemic’ amongst all populations. We can hold it at bay, but strategies based on the concept of ‘herd immunity’ will fail.
What does that mean? It means that:
Covid19-Delta is here to stay.
Getting sick or getting vaccinated will only be a ‘Get out of Jail’ card for a short time – 4 to 6 months.
The fully vaccinated will require boosters for the foreseeable future.
The unvaccinated will continue to be at risk of serious disease and death because they will NOT be protected by the immunity of the herd.
Not immune people can be both the UNvaccinated and the FULLYvaccinated. The difference is that the FULLYvaccinated are much less likely to die.
Not keeping up with boosters is likely to dump people into the as-good-as-unvaccinated group when it comes to infection, hospitalisation and death.
Masks in high risk settings are likely to remain necessary.
Lockdowns in areas of high infection will become necessary as hospitals are overwhelmed.
Social unrest is likely to escalate.
It is disappointing. Very. Disappointing.
It’s also scary because the people who have been brainwashed into believing Covid is just some kind of global conspiracy will say “See, I told you it was all a con. They said the vaccines would make us safe and now they’re saying they won’t.” Meanwhile, the anti-vaxxers will say “See, vaccines don’t work!”
The truth is rather more nuanced. Vaccines do make us safe, but not permanently. I think of it as a maintenance issue. When we first get new brake pads fitted to our cars, they work perfectly. With time and wear and tear, they work less and less well. If we don’t have them replaced, they’ll eventually wear out completely and then we’ll have a potentially fatal accident.
Sadly, that may be too logical an argument for those who’ve lost faith in public institutions. And science.
I’ve often wondered what it must have felt like in the past, when civilizations unravelled, when dystopia happened for real. Now I really don’t want to find out.
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-
My thanks to Mel for sending me the link to this video by Dr John Campbell. In it, Dr John explains new research that shows how and why AstraZeneca, and other adenovirus vaccines, can cause blood clotting in unlucky people. And it starts with how the vaccine is injected.
What should happen, according to Dr John, is that after the needle is pushed into your arm – but before the vaccine is injected! – the plunger is pulled back a little. The term for this is ‘aspirated’. If the needle has accidentally hit a blood vessel, a tiny bit of blood will be pulled back into the syringe.
If that happens, you pull the needle out and try a different spot!
Why? Because the research shows that if AZ is injected directly into the blood, it can trigger an immunological response that ends up with blood clots and low platelet count that kills people.
‘Hence, safe intramuscular injection, with aspiration prior to injection, could be a potential preventive measure when administering adenovirus-based vaccines.’
And here is the whole video. The demonstration about how aspiration works starts at minute 9:43. If you keep watching you’ll see diagrams showing the deltoid muscle and the location of blood vessels. Most injections miss those blood vessels entirely, but they are there, and if you don’t aspirate you’ll never know if you’ve hit one.
This is the missing link that explains why some unlucky people end up dead.
It’s not an act of god, or one of those inexplicable bolts of lightning from a clear sky. People are dying because it’s faster and easier not to aspirate before injecting.
Getting the AZ vaccine seemed like Russian Roulette to me all along. Now I know I was right: the side-effects are preventable. All you have to do is take that one bullet out of the chamber…
I’m going to keep this post up for a while so it gets as much exposure as possible. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated, please tell your friends. If enough of us make a noise, the authorities may eventually take notice. And people will stop dying.
At the end of this post you’ll find a video about gentle exercises to improve posture. BUT, they also ‘open’ the lungs and may help.
I don’t normally repeat anecdotal evidence because I truly believe in the scientific method, but we’re all in uncharted territory here, and this first hand report by Chris Cuomo makes sense to me:
Forcing yourself to move around, doing gentle exercise, forcing yourself to breathe deep, these are all things my Dad did in his sixties, just days after a surgery on his nose. He did it again after a kidney operation to remove kidney stones. He did it despite best practice back then, and he recovered faster than those patients who stayed immobile.
Things have changed a lot since Dad drove the medical staff insane with his crazy notions. These days we’re encouraged to get up and move around as soon as possible because movement improves our breathing and blood flow, both of which are critical to recovery. Yet with Covid-19, we’re told to stay at home until we’re so sick, hospital, and possibly intensive care, are all that’s left.
But maybe curling up in a ball at home is not the right thing to do.
If the results from ICNARC [Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre] are correct, people on ventilators have only a 50/50 chance of surviving. Those are not good odds:
Maybe Chris Cuomo and my Dad are right – if you get sick, push past the pain and keep moving.
I hope none of us ever have to put this anecdotal evidence to the test, but if the worst happens, this advice may just make a difference.
Stay well. Stay safe. #StayHome
Updated: gentle exercises that happen to also open up the lungs:
I found this video of Dr John Campbell’s incredibly informative and just had to share:
The info. is focused on how a partner or relative should care for someone with Covid-19, but some of the info. could easily apply to someone at home alone. If you know what to look for and when to call for help, the life you save could be your own.
p.s. I recently found out why it’s recommended that you wash your hands for 20 seconds. Apparently the Covid-19 virus is protected by an outer fatty? membrane, and 20 is how long it takes the soap to destroy that membrane and thus, kill the virus.
The first frame of Dr John’s video is a photo of a bus in Sweden. It’s chock-a-block full, with everyone jammed up against everyone else. And no face masks either. Apparently the messaging about the virus is…laidback.
Bizarre and rather frightening. 😦
By contrast, I found the news from my state, Victoria, very heartening. It comes in a video from an Australian nurse that Dr John included in its entirety. The nurse is here in Melbourne, and she began with the news that our Premier, Daniel Andrews, is putting his foot down. Can’t tell you how happy that makes me.
You can also find the latest news about Victorian restrictions on the VicEmergency app. The app provides real time info on all threats from bushfires to storms etc. The virus info is under ‘Warnings’. If you don’t have the app. you can download it for free from the Google Playstore. Oh, and the Australian video is spliced in at around minute 11:45 of Dr John’s update:
The Offspring and I are well. In fact, we’ve been eating very well because of the need not to waste anything! The Offspring is making fruit deserts, and I’m making ‘No Knead Bread’ to reduce our dependence on outside sources. Friends and family seem to be doing much the same so I’m sure we’ll come out of this okay. I do fear for those who aren’t taking the threat seriously though. All I can say is #StayHome .
I hope all my online friends are safe and well. That means you. -hugs-
By now, just about everybody should know about Covid-19, and the danger we all face, but sometimes small, important things get lost in the overwhelming negativity. These are the points I took from Dr John Campbell’s video this morning:
At minute 6:56 – if you have pneumonia – don’t lie flat – try to stay sitting up in bed.
At minute 7:19 – drink lots of fluids because when the body becomes dehydrated, the mucous in the lungs becomes ‘thicker’, making it harder for the cilia to waft it out. Cilia are hair-like things that help clear the lungs.
At minute 8:03 – stop smoking because smoking can slow or even paralyse the cilia in the lungs.
Please watch the entire video as these are simply the points that caught my attention.
Two more things:
Apparently Prince Charles has tested positive for Covid-19. I’m not a monarchist, but I have huge respect for the humanitarian principles that have guided the Prince’s actions for decades. I wish him a speedy recovery.
And finally, a huge THANK YOU! to the wonderful people who work for Woolworths. The drivers who home deliver my shopping, and the people who pack it, have made it possible for me to self-isolate properly. And that has meant that I won’t be bringing this bloody virus home to the Offspring.
I don’t like sharing personal, family information on this blog because I don’t believe I have the right to talk about other people’s problems. This once, however, I’m going to break my unbreakable rule and tell you about the medication the Offspring takes to control ulcerative colitis. There are two kinds. One is in tablet form and has to be taken all the time. The second is an infusion – i.e. a chemical pumped straight into the bloodstream – that has to be administered in a hospital once every eight weeks. BOTH of these medications suppress the immune system because ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease.
In all of these diseases, the immune system is either not working well enough, or working against the body’s own cells. Often the medication used to treat the condition suppresses the over-activity of the immune system.
But what about Asthma?
Asthma doesn’t attack the immune system the way the autoimmune diseases do, but it’s in the extended ‘family’, and similar medications are often prescribed to treat it [e.g. Prednisolone]. As such, Asthma sufferers are in as much danger from Covid-19 as any of the above.
All of these people have next to no defence against Covid-19.
And that’s not counting people with MCS. Or cancer. Or cystic fibrosis. Or COPD. Or Emphysema. All vulnerable. All at risk.
So when politicians reassure voters that most of them will only experience a mild disease and ‘only’ a percent of vulnerable people will suffer complications, they are misrepresenting the figures. There are a lot of people with immune related conditions or other vulnerabilities that make them sitting ducks. And these people come in all shapes and sizes, from tiny kids and strong young plumbers through to Boomers and the elderly.
Every time you break isolation because you’re bored, because you’re going stir crazy, because you’re just plain stupid, you risk getting and passing the Covid-19 virus on to someone who will end up dead.
And then there are the health professionals who are fighting Covid-19 without adequate protections. They are risking their lives every single day, and many are starting to fall prey to this virus themselves. These quiet heroes are dying because of selfish people who don’t care about anyone but themselves.
Don’t be a waste of oxygen. Stay-the-fuck-at-home.
There is nothing specifically new in Dr John’s update today, yet in some ways I found it even more compelling than previous videos because he’s talking about what this virus means for us. What it means for our lives. And why our behaviour can cause the death of people we may never see.
We have to move past the…inconvenience that Covid-19 may cause us to a concern about others.
Some will think this is Care Bear stuff, but the bottom line is that no society or culture can survive if we’re all just in it for ourselves.
The compassion and integrity we show now, to others, will determine what kind of society we have when this pandemic finally ends.
First up an important video from Dr John Campbell – remember, he’s a PhD in the medical field, not a doctor Dr – on immunity and the immune system:
The second video is a world, Covid-19 update, and this is where the title of this post comes from:
When Dr John gets to Australia [1:38 of the video] his understated disapproval is embarrassingly obvious. To quote just a bit that I managed to transcribe:
‘Scott in Australia…Scott Morrison…well, it’s not for me to go around judging world leaders but..[snip]…not too much pre-activity in Australia.’
So today I want to talk about my country, my Australia. I know what this crisis feels like on the ground, but until today, I had no real idea of what we were doing about it. The following screenshots are what I found:
The bit highlighted in red – ‘The source of infection for 26 cases is currently unknown’ is the most worrying because it shows that Covid-19 is already out in the community…as at March 18, 2020. And that’s only the cases we know about, perhaps because these are the cases needing medical help.
But what about those cases where people are asymptomatic – i.e. without symptoms – or suffering from only very mild symptoms?
These people are going about their lives, ‘business as usual’, and spreading the infection to god alone knows how many others.
It’s hard to predict how many other people are becoming infected because the ripple effect will be different for each person, a bit like this video of ripples in water:
If you were to slow the effect down and freeze it, you might get something like this:
The big circle in the middle is PERSON 1. If PERSON 1 infects just 3 other people, and each of them infect just 3 more people, you would quickly have 148 people infected. I’m no mathematician so if I’ve got that wrong PLEASE tell me in comments.
The actual spread of the virus will be far more complicated than my pretty little diagram, but if we already have 26 cases for which there is no known source, it means the spread through the community could be far, far worse than the figures imply. Many sources I’ve read say the actual number should be the official figure multiplied by 10 or even 20.
But of course, the governments figures would be suspect anyway because they haven’t done anywhere near enough testing. Only those with clinical symptoms of Covid-19 who request help are being tested. Those who only suspect they may be infected aren’t tested at all.
I tried to find out how much testing Australia has done and is doing, but the government sources provide next to no information. The following quote is from The Guardian:
‘Speaking at the council of Australian governments meeting on Friday, Australia’s chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy, said supply problems with coronavirus testing kits was a “temporary issue” but one that was hampering the scale of testing in Australia and across the globe.
“It’s a temporary issue, but it relates to the fact that a number of countries, where these consumables are made have probably put export controls over them to keep them for their own use,” he said. “We will work through it. We’ve got world-leading medical technology and will fix that issue, but it has caused a temporary issue with the scale of the testing that we can do at the moment.”
So the take home message seems to be that we don’t currently make enough [or any?] test kits in Australia, but medical manufacturing is ramping up to produce home grown test kits.
The question, however, is how long will these homegrown test kits take to manufacture? The CDC in the US tried to do the same thing, and failed. Just exactly how are we, with a fraction of the resources, going to do better?
A related question is: why didn’t we start this process earlier, like when the deadly potential of Covid-19 first became apparent?
So… nowhere near enough testing happening in Australia. But then what data are the modellers basing their advice on?
The lack of testing is like the general of an army saying, ‘don’t bother sending out reconnaissance; we know the enemy is out there.’
But where is the enemy?
How many of them are there?
Do we know where they’re going?
The lack of adequate testing is not only hindering our ability to fight this pandemic, it’s leaving individuals with the frightening idea that everyone is potentially a carrier.
We’ve already seen the panic buying. Some of that is profiteering by disgusting people who should be hung up by their balls, or whatever part of their anatomy that hurts the most. But by and large, most of the panic buying is by people like me who take the threat seriously and want to protect their vulnerable loved ones.
Frankly, when #ScottyFromMarketing gets on his high horse and says ‘dont do it!’, like some kind of stern, all-knowing father figure, my first instinct is to flip him the bird. How dare he?
Despite the evidence of China, South Korean, and Italy, the Australian government is still treating us like mushrooms and pretending that we can do better than every other country on Earth.
Past experience has shown that by ‘better’, this government means ‘survive the virus without damaging the economy too much’. First stimulus package – protect industry and ‘jobs’. Second stimulus package…protect more jobs??
How about a commitment to give those made unemployed by the virus enough to live on [so they can self-isolate without starving to death]?
How about taking control of the distribution of essentials like food and medication? If people with existing conditions can’t get their normal medication, many will die. And you can’t protect the vulnerable when they have to break self-isolation to stand cheek-by-jowl in long queues to buy food and other essentials.
The logistics of keeping people alive are being left to the marketplace, but the for-profit sector is making hay while the sun shines. The one exception to this is IGA. I’m not sure if all IGA stores are doing the same thing, but my local store has already instituted a strict rule for customers:
1 of each product per customer
At the very least, every single distributor of essential items should be doing the same.
And how about providing real information so that fear and confusion does NOT lead to hoarding? So far, the messaging from the government has been either pathetic or contradictory. To get through this, we need to work together, but we can’t work together when we don’t have leaders we can trust.
I’m prepared to make sacrifices, but only if I believe that the government is more concerned with my survival than my contribution to the economy. At the moment a part of me believes that #ScottyFromMarketing is still enamoured of Boris’ bogus ‘herd immunity’ strategy…and bugger the consequences.
We can’t fight what we can’t see, and we can’t follow leaders we don’t trust.