I’m getting my second booster [4th jab] tomorrow, so I thought I’d better do a RAT [Rapid Antigen Test] before hand…just in case. As you can tell by the title, I’m still Covid-free.
Given how long the Offspring and I have been self-isolating, you’d think we’d have nothing to worry about, but the reality is that we haven’t been living in a complete bubble. We do have to go to the chemist [pharmacist] every so often, or the IGA [local independent supermarket], or into a service station to pay for petrol, or into a confined space for a booster. We’re always masked, but these days most other people are not. So when you get the sniffles, you worry.
In this case, I was 99.9% certain we only had hay fever – the wattle is blooming like crazy at the moment. Nevertheless, with so many people around us catching the damn virus, it’s hard not to worry. Anyway, it seems we’re still part of the roughly 17 million Australians who still haven’t had the virus.
In case anyone’s wondering, the booster I’m getting tomorrow will be Pfizer. Working on the theory that mixing and matching increases the effectiveness of the current vaccines/boosters, I’ve had the two initial AZ jabs, one Moderna jab and now one Pfizer jab. I guess that makes me a Heinz. 😀
Before I begin, I have to clarify that I’m only looking at the effectiveness of vaccines against the original Omicron variant in this post. I have no information about the Omicron BA.2 variant.
First up, a truth that no government wants to admit: neither Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca do much to protect against symptomatic disease with Omicron:
I took this data from a study that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2119451 If you scroll down to Table 3, which appears just before the Discussion, you can check the raw data for yourselves. This data compares the effectiveness of all three vaccines against the Delta variant and the Omicron variant. This is an example:
As you can see, AstraZeneca is shown by its scientific name rather than the one we’re all familiar with. The same applies to Pfizer – BNT162b2 – and Moderna – mRNA-1273. For each vaccine, Table 3 displays its effectiveness against Delta and Omicron at specific time points. The 2 – 4 week time point is when the vaccine is at its most effective in preventing symptomatic disease. You can then see how quickly that effectiveness wanes over time.
Because I found the presentation of the data a bit hard to follow, I translated it into a spreadsheet and made it more visually clear:
Despite my best efforts, the data is still confusing so let me walk you through it. On the far left you have the effectiveness of the three vaccines at just 2 doses. As you can see, after 5 months, none of them are very effective and AstraZeneca is the least effective of all. This means that if you are Australian, over 65 and received only 2 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, you have virtually no protection. AT. ALL.
Until just 2 weeks ago, I fell into the ‘no protection at all’ category.
Now let’s have a look at what effect the boosters have. I’m going to start by looking at each vaccine boosted by itself – i.e. by a third dose of the same vaccine.
Looking at the table above you can see that 2 doses of AstraZeneca boosted with a 3rd dose of AstraZeneca – i.e. 3 doses of AstraZeneca – provides a maximum of 55.6% protection at 2-4 weeks. By week 9 – just over 2 months later – that protection has dropped to 46.7%.
Two initial doses of Pfizer followed by a Pfizer booster – i.e. 3 doses of Pfizer – provides a maximum of 67.2% protection. By week 10 that’s dropped to 45.7% protection.
Two initial doses of Moderna followed by a Moderna booster – i.e. 3 doses of Moderna – provides a maximum of 66.3% protection. I can’t tell you what that protection becomes at week 10 because there is no data for it. The reason there’s no data is because there were only 7 people in the study who had 3 doses of Moderna. I guess that was simply too small a sample size to be significant.
To recap, 3 doses of the same vaccine at weeks 2 – 4 – i.e. when protection was highest – resulted in:
55.6% protection for AstraZeneca
66.3% protection for Moderna
67.2% protection for Pfizer
Pfizer comes out on top, but only by a very small percent. AstraZeneca is roughly 11% worse than either of the mRNA vaccines. That said, the level of protection still isn’t stellar…for any of them.
Now, let’s see what happens when you mix-and-match vaccines.
When AstraZeneca is boosted by Pfizer, the level of protection at week 2-4 is 62.4%. AstraZeneca boosted by Moderna provides quite a bit more protection at 70.1%.
Significantly, boosting with Moderna causes that protection to also wane less by weeks 9 – 10:
60.9% with Moderna
39.6% with Pfizer
I’m pleased to say that I received my Moderna booster two weeks ago so my protection is reasonably high. I say ‘reasonably’ because I only have 1/2 a thyroid. That means my immune system is a bit compromised and the vaccines can’t provide me with the same level of protection.
The most interesting bit of data, however, is yet to come.
If you received two doses of Pfizer and followed that up with the Moderna booster, you will have the highest level of protection at 73.9%. By contrast, two doses of Moderna followed by a Pfizer booster will only give you a 64.9% level of protection.
So in conclusion:
Get a booster as soon as you hit the 3 month mark [after your second dose of whatever].
If at all possible, get the Moderna booster, especially if you received AstraZeneca as your base vaccine.
Any booster is better than none.
Keep taking precautions even after you receive your booster – even 73.9% protection isn’t all that much.
The study I’ve referenced here only looked at protections from symptomatic disease. Not severe disease. Not death. If the vaccines work the same way against Omicron as they did against earlier variants then there’s a good chance they will protect against severe disease and death, but the data isn’t in yet, so they may not. And given that BA.2 is a bit of an unknown quantity, we don’t even know if the boosters are as effective against it as they are against BA.1.
Governments and media have gone quiet on the pandemic, leading a lot of people to believe that the danger is over. It’s not. It’s just that no-one wants to admit that vaccines are not the magic bullet we were promised. The continuing death toll here in Australia and elsewhere in the world is proof of that.
Get your booster. Wear a mask. Don’t be a fool, the life you save may be your own.
Some time ago, I posted about the need to aspirate the needle before injecting with AstraZeneca vaccine. When I finally had my first jab of AZ, I asked the nurse to aspirate the needle, and that simple change helped my nerves a lot.
Now, there’s proof that not aspirating the needle before injecting mRNA vaccines can cause myopericarditis, which is a rare but known side-effect of mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna.
Rather than trying to explain the research myself, please watch this video in which Dr John Campbell explains the terms, the research and the results:
I know a lot of you have already had both doses of whichever vaccine was available. But…it’s pretty obvious that we’re going to need booster shots fairly soon. That means you will once again be at the whim of fate.
The number of people unfortunate enough to develop myopericarditis is small, but it is real so, when it’s your turn for a booster…go to your GP and ASK for the needle to be aspirated. For your health and peace of mind.
I never gamble because I don’t see myself as a ‘lucky’ person. I don’t even win anything at those stupid scratchies. So having to take a chance on AZ, however ‘small’ that risk may be, scares me silly.
And I hate not having a choice of vaccines. Not just because of the risk of blood clots, but because AZ is quite a bit less effective against Delta than Pfizer.
And while I’m at it, I hate the Morrison government for being such cheapskates. They put all their eggs in the nice, cheap AZ basket which is a big part of the reason we are so very far behind in terms of vaccinations.
And last but not least, I hate GladysB, Premier of NSW, for deliberately allowing the Delta outbreak to spread to just about every part of Australia [and even to New Zealand]. I don’t know if it was sheer hubris – “We are the gold standard state so we don’t need to learn from anyone else” or her emphasis on the economy rather than on lives, but she has helped to destroy the reasonable standard of living we used to enjoy despite the pandemic.
GladysB decided that we would all have to ‘live with Covid’, and now none of us have a choice in the matter.
So no, I’m not happy, and the next person who hangs shit on anti-vaxxers, just remember this: whether you agree with their reasons or not, those people are afraid. That is not a good place to be.
I’m not anti-vaccines in general, but I know what it feels like to be afraid of AZ. Trust me, it’s not a pleasant feeling.
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.
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-
On Saturday, July 24, 2021, roughly 3,000 men, women and children marched through my city, demanding ‘freedom’.
Freedom from what? From a lockdown designed to save the mostly unvaccinated population of Melbourne from the Delta variant of Covid19.
Virtually none of those selfish, stupid people were wearing a mask. None of them were ‘socially distancing’. And all of them thought there was ‘no danger’. No danger to them and no danger to the rest of us.
No danger from Delta… -grinds teeth-
I’m not going to rant about those people. Instead, I’m going to address the criminal misinformation they were fed about Covid19:
The first thing to understand is that the virus infecting NSW, Victoria and South Australia now is not the same as the version we fought during the first wave, back in March 2020. It’s a mutation of the virus called ‘Delta’.
Delta is miles more infectious than the original version of Covid because it incubates faster and has a hugely greater viral load.
Delta’s incubation period – i.e. the time it takes for the virus to start infecting others – is roughly half of what happened with the original version. It’s now about 30 hours.
Delta’s viral load – i.e. how much active virus is being manufactured by the body and shed outside the body – is 1260 times more than the original version. Just think about that number for a moment. 😦
Delta can also infect via super fine aerosol spray [from just breathing], droplets [heavier drops from say sneezing] and contamination of surfaces [from droplets landing on surfaces and staying active].
Taken all together, this means that many of the things we thought we knew about Covid no longer apply.
We used to think that Covid only spread via droplets and surface contamination. We now know that Delta can and does spread via super fine aerosol spray. That’s how Delta has been escaping from hotel quarantine.
We used to think that children and the ‘young’ were pretty much safe from dying of Covid. Wrong. Recent data from Indonesia shows that children and the young are much more likely to become sick and die if they catch Delta.
We used to think that being outdoors, or in a properly ventilated area would protect us from Covid. We now know that Delta can and does spread outdoors. The spread from the MCG is proof of that. Air circulation does dilute the viral load, but wherever large groups of people come into close contact, spread does occur.
Imagine this, you’re walking along in a crowd of people, completely unaware that the person directly in front of you has Delta. Maybe they don’t know they have it either. As they breathe out and move on, you walk through the air that just came out of their mouths! If you breathe in at that moment, you’re breathing in the Delta virus.
3000 people in Melbourne may have done just that on Saturday, and not just for a few seconds, but for the entire time they marched through our streets. Some of those people are just plain nuts – you would not believe the conspiracy theories being bandied about. Most though, have probably been taken in by the misuse of statistics from overseas.
I saw one tweet on Twitter touting the fact that the percentage of people who died from Covid was tiny, so there was ‘no danger’. Those stats came from the CDC in the US and were totally misleading. The percentage of Covid deaths out of a population of 350,000,000 may be ‘a little number’, but that’s only because there are just 100 numbers in a percentage – from 1 to 100. The number of deaths, however, is huge – over 600,000. That’s over half a million people like you and me.
For those 600,000+ people in the US, the danger was very and very fatal.
The only thing that stops us from facing the same danger is luck. Or lockdowns. I may be a control freak, but know which I prefer.
Getting back to those 3000 people in Melbourne, many were saying they had been fully vaccinated and therefore should not be locked up with the rest of us. I sincerely hope they were vaccinated, because otherwise they could die if they catch Delta. The latest victim was a young woman in her 30s who had no underlying health problems.
But being vaccinated yourself does not mean you can’t be infected by Delta. And it definitely does not mean you can’t pass Delta on to those who are not vaccinated. Recent data coming out of Israel shows that whilst vaccines continue to stop people from becoming sick and needing to be ventilated, their ability to stop transmission of the virus reduces drastically with time.
How drastically? Down to about 39% after 4 months. Four months. That means anyone who is not fully vaccinated will be in danger…from those who are vaccinated…after just four months. And this is data about the Pfizer vaccine! The gold standard for protecting health and reducing transmission.
But the worst news is that Delta may not be the worst variant of Covid we have to face. In Peru, almost all of those with Covid have been infected by a variant called Lambda. And Lambda is spreading out of South America, with cases now found in Texas.
No one knows which variant will prove to be the winner in this war of the viruses, but being vaccinated is no longer the magic bullet we all hoped it would be. In a few years time, Generation XX of the vaccines may stop transmission as well as hospitalisations, but this first generation of vaccines can’t, or at least, it can’t stop transmission permanently.
What does this all mean for us? It means we need virtually 100% vaccination rates – across all age groups, including children. It also means boosters, boosters, and more boosters. And it may mean that wearing masks in certain settings becomes the norm rather than the exception.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out these videos from Dr John Campbell:
And re viral load:
As for the fools marching through our streets on Saturday…I really wish there were a vaccine for stupid. These people actually saw themselves as ‘heroes’ who would be applauded by the rest of us.
Well… 10,000 of the rest of us contacted Crime Stoppers about the protests. Surprise, surprise.
This is an important video for everyone to watch as Dr John Campbell explains about the adverse reactions recorded for the Pfizer vaccine. He then goes through the first peer reviewed paper published for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
As Australia has aligned itself heavily with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, it’s very reassuring to know that it is both safe and efficacious! Just as a matter of interest, Australians won’t be getting any vaccines until some time in March, 2021. As we have the virus under control [knock on wood], we can afford to wait.
Feels great to get some good news on the virus front for a change. 🙂