Tag: public health

Crossing The Minefield

Because I have some time on my hands, and I’ve got my tinfoil hat shaped just right, I’m going to add an update to my previous (poorly worded) post on leaky vaccines. This one is about risk assessment. I think we’d all agree that each individual should be able to make an informed decision about the risks of getting or not getting the vaccine or booster. In a perfect world we’d see all the pros/cons and decide what’s right for your particular scenario. But what if you weren’t told all the info?

(adjusts hat) Ok, here we go. It’s starting to look like after your first dose of the mRNA vaccine you go through a roughly two week window of a highly immune suppressed state. The reasons why are not clear yet. The most likely cause seems to be that the mRNA vaccine has to turn off the toll-like receptors so the vaccine can enter the cells without being attacked by the immune system. Other options are a fall in lymphocytes and neutrophils that are seen three days post vaccine. Regardless of cause, it appears likely that you are in a highly immune compromised state for several weeks after your first dose. This does not happen after the second dose.

The impact of this is a significantly increased death rate post first dose. This was seen clearly in the Israel data and now in the Palestinian data since they are just now getting their first doses. Going back to Israel, we see the same corresponding rise in death rate following the booster.

Just to be clear, people are NOT dying from the vaccine. They appear to be briefly in a highly immune compromised state and then get covid or a cancer spreads, etc…

So to steal a brilliant analogy – we have some percentage risk by not taking the vaccine, based upon our age, comorbidities, fitness, etc… We can mitigate some of that risk by taking the vaccine, but in order to do that we have to first cross a minefield. You’d probably want to know what are the odds of stepping on a mine, right? Well, the first study on this shows a 46% increase in suspected covid during that two week period. Even the Pfizer data itself shows a 40% increase.

Don’t you think it would have been good to know that you’d briefly have a nearly 50% increased chance of getting covid and massively increased odds of being hospitalized for several weeks after getting your vaccine? The tradeoff for running across the minefield is a vaccine that is eventually 56% effective (not the 95% we were sold).

Again, I’m not arguing that you shouldn’t get the vax. I think most folks 50 and older, or folks with comorbidities should. BUT, don’t you think folks should have been advised that for 2-3 weeks post first dose you need to self isolate as much as possible to reduce the risk of getting covid? I blissfully went back to work after my first dose, including working the covid floor! And why in gods name would we be pushing the vaccines during peaking cases? From a big picture, public health standpoint, you’d want to be vaccinating during lulls in case rates.

Which brings me back to the previous post. What if we’ve created a bunch of vaccinated asymptomatic superspreaders who are inadvertently causing a spike in case rates? And then in response we push/mandate vaccinations and start boosters. We just potentially put millions of people into that two week risk window with covid on the increase and superspreaders walking around… The hospitalization and death rates will be interesting follow this winter.

Come to think of it, my tinfoil hat is feeling a little snug. Time to take it off and go do something productive outside.

Did We Screw Up?

Sit back and relax for a minute. I have a short tale that might worry you a bit. One that, if true, would prove to be one of the greatest public health blunders in history. It’s about a vaccine. Wait, wait, don’t go… this isn’t an anti-vax tirade or a rant about mandates. It’s a story about what happens when people rush to make a decision without waiting for all the data.

A question – what happens if we created a “leaky vaccine” and pushed it out to billions of people?

Here’s the background. I follow a number of statisticians. Yes, I know I’m a geek. But I like data and charts and graphs. I admit much of the stats are above my head, but I took just enough statistics to semi-sorta understand what I’m reading. Anyway, I first heard about the idea of leaky vaccines from something that Joe Rogan said on his podcast. He, of course, was immediately blasted for pushing tinfoil hat conspiracy stuff. Which, of course, made me want to read more about it. Enter the statisticians who plot and analyze the data and ignore the politicians and media wisdom.

What you want is a sterilizing vaccine. One that creates an immune response powerful enough that it instantly attacks and wipes out the virus in the host before it can replicate and spread. What you don’t want is a “leaky vaccine” that produces an immune response sufficient to protect the host, but isn’t able to prevent a buildup of viral load or transmission. Every day it’s looking more likely that we’ve produced a pretty leaky covid vaccine. This is generally ok for you, the vaccinated individual. Your immune response protects you from getting really sick. But the population as a whole…

Here’s the worrisome part. The data is showing that when a vaccinated person is hit with covid, their viral load and shedding of virus is equal to that of unvaccinated people and lasts for days. And the best part? Because they have an immune response that starts working to protect them, they are generally asymptomatic. Are the lightbulbs starting to go off? In our mad rush to push the vaccine without sufficient testing, we may have just created a bunch of vaccinated asymptomatic superspreaders, happily walking around and infecting the unvaccinated and those unhealthy folks (vaccinated or not) who managed to dodge the bullet during the first covid wave.

Israel, one of the most vaccinated nations on the planet, got hammered with a second wave. Similarly the UK and many highly vaccinated cities in the US. The hospitals are being overrun in many cities, including my own. In many places it’s far worse than the first covid wave. We’re seeing tons of “breakthrough” cases – vaccinated folks who get covid. Unfortunately many of those folks have multiple comorbidities, which is why they got the vaccine in the first place. Their outcomes aren’t great (but still better than without the vaccine). Get vaccinated so you can safely visit your immunocompromised family and friends! We need a vaccine passport so we can safely shop and go to restaurants! The potential irony would be humorous if it wasn’t so tragic.

It’s a catch-22. The vaccine we rushed into the population is clearly good for the individual, but may be bad for society as a whole. Politicians and public health officials panicked and pushed out something without knowing the potential long term impacts. And now that we’re facing skyrocketing case and fatality rates again, the panicked response is boosters! We need boosters in every arm ASAP!

Never mind that the FDA advisory panel voted 16-2 AGAINST authorizing the booster for everyone. The CDC ignored that and did it anyway. The two top virologists at the FDA resigned over the politicization and handling of all this. Yay! Trust the science bitches.

It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback, I get that. But what makes science all sciency, is a willingness to continually examine the data, re-evaluating, questioning, and rethinking your hypothesis if results weren’t what you expected. Unfortunately politics and fear forced us to throw all that out the window. Politics and vanity will keep anyone from saying out loud, “uh guys, we might have screwed up?” Maybe this is a big nothingburger. Maybe in a couple years this will be a minor, annual flu-like annoyance. Or maybe we’ll be on booster #8 and wondering why we keep getting so many mutating variants? My tinfoil hat fits me just fine, thank you.