☕️ Coffee & Covid ☙ Tuesday, August 31, 2021 ☙ Boost-A-Rhymes

Happy Tuesday, C&Cers. Today, we look at news from Washington showing that post-vaccination hospitalizations are on the rise. Just like Israel. I explain the critical difference between Covid vaccines and those for polio and smallpox. Australia’s chief health officer describes what the future of boosters looks like for folks down under. And a new meta-study sheds light on natural immunity and Covid re-infection rates.

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🔥 So it looks like it’s beginning. Do you remember how, back in March of 2020, Washington was the first state to see large numbers of Covid infections? As other states were seeing cases in single digits, Washington started reporting double, then triple digits of cases. So it was a bellweather state, a canary in the Covid mine.

Yesterday, the Washington Post-Gazette reported an article headlined, “*Breakthrough COVID-19 cases are rising, and experts are trying to figure out exactly what that means*.” Oh, experts. Baffled again? Try to get it together, gang.

The article explains that, in the hospitals within the Washington Health System, between 25% and 40% of patients hospitalized for Covid-19 were FULLY VACCINATED. Hospitalized cases. Meaning, what they used to call “serious illness.” As in “the vaccines may not prevent infection and transmission, but they do prevent serious illness and death.”

The article mentions Washington counties having vaccination rates between 47% and 59.2%.

The article speculates that there are even more breakthrough infections. It speculates that even though vaccinated people are now experiencing serious illness — which wasn’t supposed to happen — their serious illnesses aren’t AS SERIOUS as unvaccinated folks. It doesn’t give any statistics on that, but I’m wondering how you make those kinds of comparisons anyway.

For example. Is there a higher proportion of immunocompromised within the unvaccinated population, because they CAN’T take the shot? Are the unvaccinated folks already sicker with other co-morbidities that precluded vaccination in the first place? How do you adjust for variables like that? The fact is, there hasn’t been any randomized controlled trial of vaxx hospitalizations versus unvaxx. It’s just stuff doctors are saying in response to events that are overtaking them.

For example, the Post-Gazette quotes a Dr. Cheema, who said of his vaccinated patients, “The good news is they’re not super-sick; they don’t end up on ventilators and dying.” Super-sick is a technical term. They’re sick, it’s not good, but at least they’re not super-sick.

I find it fascinating that, last year, whenever any statistic of any kind began creeping up, the doctors and experts starting quacking all together about the end of the world. They didn’t even wait to see if it was just a daily fluctuation before getting the vapors. It was the end of the world, over and over and over, time and time again.

But now, with post-vaccination hospitalizations shooting up, they are bending over backwards to be reassuring. Bedside manner is back, baby! Why? What changed? Where did all the doom crying go? What is so reassuring to them now?

The article begins and ends with Pennsylvania representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, although you can’t tell that from anything on his website. According to the article, Doyle got a symptomatic case of Covid-19 despite being double-vaccinated and wearing his face shield everywhere outside the home. Doyle says he’s happy with the vaccine and can’t wait to get his booster shot.

In an undated video appearing online yesterday showing Rochelle Walensky speaking in a private zoom update, she said, “Data that we’ve seen … have demonstrated a worsening of infections among vaccinated people over time.”

So … don’t cancel me, but it is starting to look like the experts are totally in the weeds now. First they said, the vaccines are 95% effective at stopping infection. Fauci said vaccine immunity — based on just two doses — was MORE durable and MORE long-lasting than natural infection. “Fully vaccinated” meant one does of J&J or two doses of Pfizer/Moderna. That was just five months ago.

Then they said, well, maybe not so effective at preventing infection and transmission. Um, so the original studies were no good? Nope. Don’t worry, they said, the vaccines are still 100% effective at preventing serious illness. You can still get it, but it will keep you out of the hospital, the experts said. See?, they said, only unvaccinated people are in the hospitals.

But now, vaxx people ARE going into the hospitals, and since Walensky is saying it’s “worsening … over time,” I guess the experts were wrong about that one, too. That just leaves dying. Now they’re saying, okay, maybe it doesn’t prevent serious disease, but the vaccines are “pretty good” at preventing death from Covid. Which you only have to worry about if you’re in the tiny sliver of folks most at risk from the disease. And we really don’t have any data about that one, either.

So, we need to get prepared for the Israel experience and not freak out. It’s probably on the way already. There may be a lot more vaccinated hospitalizations. More than at any previous point in the pandemic, if our experience tracks Israel’s. It should NOT be any surprise, and it should NOT be anything to panic about. Hospitals should start getting ready, that’s all. We can handle this. And they need to NOT fire a bunch of nurses who won’t take the jab. Doctors, that would be counter-productive. You might NEED those nurses soon. Use logic this time. THINK about it.

🔥 Yesterday, I spoke to a good friend, very smart guy, and the conversation turned to Covid. Of course. He surprised me by analogizing the Covid vaccines to polio and smallpox. I was surprised because I thought everyone had already got the memo. Apparently not, so let’s go through it one more time.

The argument, which gained traction on Twitter during the first part of this year, goes like this: we defeated polio and smallpox, so we can beat Covid using vaccines, too.

That argument is false, because the Covid vaccines are in a totally different category from the polio and smallpox vaccines. Covid vaccines are NON-STERILIZING. Vaxx people can still catch and transmit the virus. Polio and smallpox vaccines are STERILIZING. People vaccinated for those diseases DO NOT catch those viruses and they DO NOT further transmit those viruses. So, it’s possible to “beat” a virus using a sterilizing vaccine, but it is NOT possible to “beat” a virus using a non-sterilizing vaccine.

You can’t even beat it with boosters. See, e.g., influenza.

Furthermore, it took DECADES to eradicate polio and smallpox. So, even if the Covid vaccines were sterilizing — which they are not — we’d still have to live with the virus for a long time anyway.

Everybody got it, now? Good. Time for a caffeine refill.

🦘 Australian news media began widely reporting yesterday that booster shots will be needed for all Ozzies, and millions of doses have already been ordered. New South Wales’ chief health officer Dr. Kerry Chant took questions from media and said that boosters would probably continue for a very long time. She said Australians will need to get used to receiving regular booster shots, with the virus expected to circulate indefinitely. “I can’t see that Covid is not going to be with us forever,” Dr. Chant said.

“We need to get used to getting vaccinated with Covid vaccines for the future,” she said, smirking nervously. “As a doctor, we always want to have diseases totally eliminated. But that’s not on the horizon in the near future.”

Not on the horizon. Can’t eliminate it with the vaccines.

Dr. Chant continued, admitting that they have no idea how often the booster shots will be needed to … do something. “Booster doses, repeat doses, will be part of it. There’ll be different advice about different schedules, which doses you get. … This will be a regular cycle of vaccination and re-vaccination as we learn more about how immunity wanes.”

A regular cycle. How regular? Who knows! We’re still learning about how immunity wanes. We’re probably going to need bigger vaccine cards, though.

Hey! I have an idea! Why don’t we just hook everybody up to an IV drip, and then we can just keep the vaccine flowing 24 x 7? That would do it. Everyone could just carry around a little vaccine tank that keeps the vaccines streaming into people all day long. You could put the tank in a little bedside recharger overnight. It would be SO EASY and convenient. Safe. And effective. Effective at something, anyway. Who knows? Science!

🔬 On Sunday a new study pre-printed in MedRxIV, titled “*A Systematic Review of the Protective Effect of Prior SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Repeat Infection*.” It’s a meta-study, where they surveyed a bunch of other studies and found the ones reviewing “naive” (non-vaccinated) Covid-19 reinfection rates. They found that the studies showed that the weighted average risk reduction against reinfection was 90.4%, and lasted “up to 10 months.” Because that’s how long we’ve been studying it.

The study concludes that, “The protective effect of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection on re-infection is high and similar to the protective effect of vaccination.”

If only there were some way to use this information. We might be able to come up with a strategy to avoid lifetime cycles of vaccination and re-vaccination. Help, experts!

That’s it for today! Have a terrific, optimistic Tuesday, and I’ll be back tomorrow with more.

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