Booster shots

While I reconsider what I should write about, I’m also thinking about when to get a Covid booster shot. I had planned to do so in February, six months after my second AZ shot. But now, I’m thinking I should wait until the vaccines have been updated for Omicron, maybe in March.

The question I need to assess is how rapidly, if at all, case numbers will grow in Queensland once borders are reopened. So far, it seems clear that Queensland has R < 1, though not so clear why. A string of local outbreaks have been detected, then fizzled out. With vax rates rising, and a combination of vax passports and employment mandates coming into force, that should continue even with regular arrivals of new cases, suggesting that waiting is not a bad idea.

Omicron could change all that, but if it does, it seems even more sensible to get an updated vax. It’s going to be a nervous few months.

76 thoughts on “Booster shots

  1. On the ABC, Marylouise McLaws, Epidemiologist, was just interviewed by Patricia Kavelas. M. McLaws had a number of interesting things to say. I won’t repeat all points. I am sure people can find the interview online. Suffice it to say here that while not being as completely doomist as me, she is very concerned and would like to see a lot more testing and preventative measures happening than are happening right now in NSW. She took the Health minister’s prediction of 25,000 cases a day in NSW by the end of January as clearly possible and (to her) frankly very concerning. She basically said the medical system would crumple under the pressure and implied, I think, that (some) people would be dying at home. At one point, talking about new research in aerosol transmission and in relation to aircraft cabins, she said to Patricia Kavelas, “Let me terrify you.” Clearly, Marylouise McLaws thinks some aspects and implications of our current situation are terrifying. She is simply rather contained and responsible in her pronouncements as she has to be as a public expert.

    With respect to the meme “Omicron is milder” (all other things being equal), I would like to theorize a little here. Why would it be milder and how could it be milder? Let us think it through. The salient things we already know from new data are:

    1. Omicron is more infectious than Delta.
    2. Omicron evades immunity better than Delta.
    3. Omicron evades vaccines better than Delta.
    4. Omicron has more mutations overall and more mutations for spikes.
    5. Omicron builds higher virus loads than Delta (I think but must double-check this.)

    Next, let us ask ourselves why a virus like SARS_CoV_2 hurts you. Here are the main answers:

    A. The virus kills and disintegrates tissue cells (like lung cells, blood vessel cells etc.)
    B. The virus spikes cause some physical and likely chemical damage in their own right.
    C. The virus, its breakdown products and your destroyed cell breakdown products can all provoke excess and very dangerous inflammatory responses.

    Now ask yourself how something that does more of 1 to 5 is going to do less of A. to C. It doesn’t make sense does it? There may be a possible way or two but they are a stretch. Some protein part or sub-unit of Delta (say) might be more provoking of inflammatory response than the corresponding altered or absent part in Omicron (a part can be absent in sequence comparison terms). This is possible but it seems a stretch.

    Thoughts people?

  2. I’m reading that people are struggling to get boosters. We just had ours done – choice of Pfizer or Moderna at the local chemist – the doc was unable to provide.

  3. Lockdowns and other forms of regulation have become political hot potatoes, affording opportunists such as Pauline Hanson an increase in profile.

    I can’t see a reversal of the lifting of mandatory requirements but a strong voluntary compliance will continue.

    Judging by the speed of Omicron and the ineffectiveness of AZ those who haven’t had 3 x jabs and those who don’t practice preventative measures will be at a high risk of contracting the disease.

    For antivaxxers and other self proclaimed freedom fighters the future looks grim.

  4. akarig, the “strong voluntary compliance will continue”?

    Post office this morning. 5 out of 14 wearing only with masks. The aged / immunocompromised (I knew the person) / sensible. Staff also unmasked so < 0.3 masked in close quarters – old building w poor ventilation. 1 x 900mm door in / out and 10m away 1 x 900mm door to sorting area. No windows open.

    Coles – less than 0.2 masked.

    Yes, I was masked.

  5. It’s going to take a death in every family, a death in every office, a death in every social circle before enough people realize how serious this is. It doesn’t help that governments lie non-stop: “Omicron is mild”, “75% overall vaccination rate is fine”, “We don’t need any other measures. Blah Blah Blah.” People gunna have to find out the hard way.

  6. Yes, Woolies/Coles et al have removed QR codes and mask requirements – I guess they don’t want to have to shut down for a deep clean and to also have employees in isolation. In Woolies most were masked, another shop ~40%.

    Local pie shop – QR code, masks and social distancing – max 2 customers inside.

    But it seems nightclubs, pubs etc are where the bulk of transmissions are taking place.

  7. Advice from the U.K. and SA is that this is a deadly variant, numbers doubling every 2 or 3:days.

  8. “Anyone who touts “Omicron is milder” (not proven) also doesn’t understand epidemiology and exponential math. Even if it is 1/10th deadlier, but just merely 2x more contagious (we think Omicron is 4-6x more), more people will die even with the 1/10th milder (sic – means 1/10th deadlier) virus.” – Eric Feigl-Ding.

    If we keep going on our current path, Australia’s medical system will semi-collapse by 1 Feb., 2022. People who need medical help, like my wife, who needed an ambulance for a medical emergency the night before last, will be in strife when hospitals are full of COVID-19 and can’t even take other patients. My wife is okay and back home. Heart attack, stroke etc. were ruled out but she faces further batteries of tests. How to get them and stay safe in this current environment, eh? Hospitals and medical are the last places you feel like going near.

    While my “tales of woe” are anecdotal, they actually reflect the serious reality of our ageing population facing this unnecessarily unleashed pandemic.

  9. Ikonoclast, anecdote is not necessarily absent any fact. What you describe is happening in the Qld hospital system increasingly.

    In particular, yesterday I phoned to enquire why screening procedures previously conducted within months of referral were now blowing out to twelve months, most likely to the never-never, and have been getting replaced with emergency admissions. The answer, as expected, was poor funding that is way behind population driven case load increase, staffing issues, and two years of covid. I know for a fact the poor funding and population stressors go back at least four years as related then by nursing administrators speaking ‘out of church’. People are now being condemned to die horribly from associated cancers due to mighty failures in both state and federal early detection programs. The health budget situation and other economic considerations will degrade yet further as the consequences pile up. At the hospital they are quite fearful of the coming wave of omicron and a consequential increase in the number of distressed and exhausted staff leaving. On Monday apparently I can take it up with some administrator further, then with the Qld ombudsfarce.

  10. From about 65 hours after the Pfizer booster I’ve been feeling crook with headache for the past twelve hours. Similar but later onset, longer lasting, and worse than I had with the second jab that a couple of paracetemol quickly fixed. I felt no side effects following the first jab…

    I wonder that it is related to the far bigger surge in antibodies etc that is said to follow the booster?

  11. Huff Post says:

    “Does the severity of side effects have anything to do with how well your body will fight COVID-19 if exposed?

    Though it is a valid question, more studies need to be conducted to unpack what the severity of side effects actually mean, said Anna Wald, an infectious diseases physician and researcher in COVID-19 vaccine trials at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

    But Erasmus, Kelley and Wald all say the effectiveness of the vaccine is unlikely to be determined by how severe your side effects are.”

    Yet, it is intriguing your booster is eliciting the strongest effect yet. Sort of sounds to me like it is working well, provided there are not severe or concerning side effects. But I am not a medical doctor nor any other kind of doctor.

  12. Svante, I had the Moderna booster and it knocked me for 6 – aches, pains, fatigue and a muddled head – even more than usual.

    Apparently it’s a good thing, it shows that you have a functioning immune system.

  13. In a democracy it’s the majority that rules. We know that In theory.

    Yet we now have antivaxxers et al influencing policy to the point that we now have to live with Covid. This is despite vaccination (in NSW) of >90% for >16 age group and >80% 12/15 age group.

    Clearly people don’t want to live with Covid, or any other life threatening disease.

    Like the Nazis in their early days, policy is now being driven by a feisty, vocal and violent minority.

  14. Akarog, Svante et all,

    130k getting tested a day in Sydney says it all.

    We are aware. We don’t want it. And many just for community health, not really personal.

    And yes, the vical minority are really being megaphoned by ozfail.

    Is there a parallel to Kristallnacht of mass publication of propaganda?

    We will though see a rally when we have had the seventh wave of those of us in the majority.

    We just don’t want to be featured in newscorpse. As yet.

  15. Latest research from Imperial College London shows;

    1. Omicron largely evades immunity from past infection or two vaccine doses.
    “This level of immune evasion means that Omicron poses a major, imminent threat to public health.” – Prof Neil Ferguson.

    2. The proportion of Omicron among all COVID cases (in Britain) was doubling every 2 days up to December 11th. Based on these results… estimate that the reproduction number (R) of Omicron was above 3 over the period studied.

    3. The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta.

    More Details.

    (A) “Omicron was associated with a 5.40 (95% CI: 4.38-6.63) fold higher risk of reinfection compared with Delta. To put this into context, in the pre-Omicron era, the UK “SIREN” study of COVID infection in healthcare workers estimated that prior infection afforded 85% protection against a second COVID infection over 6 months. The reinfection risk estimated in the current study suggests this protection has fallen to 19% (95%CI: 0-27%) against an Omicron infection.”

    (B) “The researchers found a significantly increased risk of developing a symptomatic Omicron case compared to Delta for those who were two or more weeks past their second vaccine dose, and two or more weeks past their booster dose (for AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines).

    Depending on the estimates used for vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection from the Delta variant, this translates into vaccine effectiveness estimates against symptomatic Omicron infection of between 0% and 20% after two doses, and between 55% and 80% after a booster dose. Similar estimates were obtained using genotype data, albeit with greater uncertainty.

    Prof Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London said: “This study provides further evidence of the very substantial extent to which Omicron can evade prior immunity given by both infection or vaccination. This level of immune evasion means that Omicron poses a major, imminent threat to public health.””

    Other Indications.

    “FASTER HOSPITALIZATION WITH #Omicron—Latest data on hospital admissions in London United Kingdom (Omicron epicenter) shows Omicron wave is sending patients to hospitals sooner in 6 days than versus Delta (9-10 days). And the model suggests similar severity, not “milder”. – Eric Feigl-Ding. Data from Denmark shows same pattern.

    “South African Health Minister Says ‘Highly Transmissible’ Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa. In South Africa’s worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals. Top government health officials in South Africa briefed the press on Friday regarding the Omicron variant, warning that the country’s newest wave of Covid-19 infections has included an alarmingly sharp rise in hospital admissions among young children under the age of five.” – Common Dreams.


    The incoming data prove that the “milder” claim for Omicron was and is A COMPLETE WISHFUL THINKING FABRICATION which ran ahead of all confirmed data. The Australian Federal Govt. ended its temporary border protections against Omicron before any confirmed new data could even come in. What was the point of a temporary pause if they did not even wait for the new data?

    People keep forgetting that Delta was found to be ~4x more severe than the original 2020 strain of SARSCoV2. So if Omicron were any “milder” than Delta (and the data now DON’T suggest that at all) then Omicron would still be a very severe variant. Couple that with its runaway contagiousness and runaway immune and vaccine escape and we have a monster variant on our hands.

    The course of this global pandemic is ever-worsening. We may yet be faced with substantial vaccine failure in the face of this virus as it mutates further. What serious vaccine failure could mean is that the vaccine fails to have sufficient effect against new variants. It’s heading that way right now with Omicron.

    “High COVID-19 vaccination rates were expected to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in populations by reducing the number of possible sources for transmission and thereby to reduce the burden of COVID-19 disease. Recent data, however, indicate that the epidemiological relevance of COVID-19 vaccinated individuals is increasing. In the UK it was described that secondary attack rates among household contacts exposed to fully vaccinated index cases was similar to household contacts exposed to unvaccinated index cases (25% for vaccinated vs 23% for unvaccinated). 12 of 31 infections in fully vaccinated household contacts (39%) arose from fully vaccinated epidemiologically linked index cases. Peak viral load did not differ by vaccination status or variant type.” – Günter Kampf, Lancet.

    “The vaccination rate was 96.2% among all exposed individuals (151 healthcare workers and 97 patients). Fourteen fully vaccinated patients became severely ill or died, the two unvaccinated patients developed mild disease The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four of the top five counties with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated population (99.9–84.3%) as “high” transmission counties. Many decision makers assume that the vaccinated can be excluded as a source of transmission. It appears to be grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.” – Günter Kampf, Lancet.

    Take note of the words “grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.”

    Finally, I have heard that Queensland school children leaving school for Christmas break were sent home with home-learning packs for next year. Presumably the Qld Govt. is planning for the possibility they will not reopening schools next year at the start of the school year. 2022 will be the worse year yet. 2023, 24 and 25 will be even worse, most likely. There is no credible way to end this crisis without global eradication of COVID-19, whatever it take.

    From “The epidemiological relevance of the COVID-19-vaccinated population is increasing” – Günter Kampf, Lancet.

  16. Posted yesterday (Dec 17) at The Guardian was an op-ed by Professor Adrian Esterman, chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, headlined Our leaders are living in Wonderland if they think Covid case numbers don’t matter.

    Esterman informs us that:

    * NSW has gone from 482 last Sunday to 2,213 on Friday – the effective reproduction number has gone from 1.37 to 2.12, which tells us that case numbers will now double every four days.
    * Omicron is twice as transmissible as the Delta variant, and more easily evades immunity.
    * Current vaccines appear to give lower protection against being infected with Omicron.
    * Being fully vaccinated does give you some protection against serious illness and death from Omicron.
    * mRNA boosters, including Pfizer and half-dose Moderna, give well over 70% protection against symptomatic infection by Omicron.

    A week ago, we were told that we would have to wait six months from our second dose before we could get a booster. Then Atagi changed that to five months. I can pretty much guarantee that, before long, Atagi will change it to three months – but in the meantime, thousands of people will get infected. Why don’t we ever learn from other countries and follow their lead earlier?

    Esterman reminds us that:

    1. As case numbers run into their thousands, we will inevitably see a rise in hospitalisations and deaths.

    2. Everyone seems to have forgotten about long-COVID. About a third of COVID survivors are likely to suffer from symptoms three to six months after being infected, including people who have no symptoms from the initial infection. So case numbers are still very important.

    Wearing face masks, hand sanitizing and better ventilation in indoor settings has little or no impact on business. So why are governments reluctant to keep these measures as case numbers dramatically increase?

  17. Geoff Miell,

    Absolutely agree. It’s interesting that one of the “economics consequences of the pandemic” is that here on an economics blog we are talking explicitly about epidemiology, not economics. Of course, at the second level we are still talking about economics. We are simply saying that to have a healthy economy and society we have to have healthy people. That must come first. It’s the same as saying to have a healthy economy, we have to have a healthy environment and climate.

    Economics cannot be done in isolation of the real. Nor can economics “lead the real”. The real must lead and inform economics. That is to say getting real physical parameters into or keeping them in a sustainable “Goldilocks zone” for humans is what we must concern ourselves with. Economic prescriptions must be designed to facilitate that endeavor; the endeavor of keeping real parameters in that efficacious and sustainable zone.

    The bowdlerized and politicized economics of market fundamentalism posit a prescriptive ideal in which managing money, capital and markets in a prescribed way (according to an idealized theory) automatically manages the real systems (humans, resources and environment, if the evironment is considered at all) to the optimum. Evidence to the contrary is discounted completely. The real measurements of impact science are ignored and nominal quantities in an arbitrary formal system (numbers on profit sheets) are held to be more important than the real, than what is really happening.

    This is why I say there can be no solution under market fundamentalism. I am not the only one who says that of course. However, I go further than many and say not only can there be no solution under unfettered capitalism but there can be no solution under capitalism at all. Underlying market fundamentalism is property fundamentalism. Another term for property fundamentalism is propertarianism. Essentially capitalism is completely based on property fundamentalism and fully conditioned by it. This property fundamentalism cannot be removed without removing capitalism itself. Capitalism is property fundamentalism. Property fundamentalism is capitalism.

  18. Our leaders, Domicron and Scomicron, have been successful in beginning the spread of the pandemic to the entire nation. This is sabotage of the health of the population at large; the kind of sabotage inherent in the capitalist mode of economics and identified by Thorstein Veblen. Veblen conceptually divided the economy into “industry” and “business”. Industry, and human industriousness in general, is the process by which goods and services are actually produced. Workers and machines cooperate and/or are co-ordinated in networks to produce.

    However, “co-ordination” under capitalism can take different forms. There can be a genuine coordination within and between firms and there can be competition, some forms of which shade over into genuine sabotage. Workers can sabotage too and worker sabotage is generally more clearly recognized. A strike appears as justified to underpaid or mistreated workers but it appears as a sabotage of production to the owners. However, a lock-out appears as justified to the owners but as a sabotage to the workers’ need to earn an income.

    But sabotage of industry by business goes far deeper. Sabotage appears not only in the competition of owners and workers but also in the competition of capitalists with capitalists. Furthermore, sabotage of the good of the greater public and/or the greater environment also appears from the operations of business, whether or not that sabotage is intentional or merely collateral damage of business operations.

    First, let us hear from Bichler and Nitzan about Veblen’s identification of business sabotage.

    “For Veblen, industry and business are two increasingly distinct spheres of human activity. Industry constitutes the material context of capitalism, although industry is not unique to capitalism. When considered in isolation from contemporary business institutions, the principal goal of industry, its raison d’être according to Veblen, is the efficient production of quality goods and services for the betterment of human life. The hallmark of industry is the so-called ‘machine process’, a process that Veblen equated not merely with the use of machines, but more broadly with the systematic organization of production and the reasoned application of knowledge. Above all, Veblen accentuated the holistic nature of industry. The neoclassical emphasis on individualism and its Robinson Crusoe analogies of the innovative ‘entrepreneur’ and single ‘consumer’ are misleading myths. The machine process is a communal activity; its productivity derives, first and foremost, from cooperation and integration. The reasons are both historical and spatial.” – Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan.

    “According to Veblen, business differs from industry in both methods and goals. Business enterprise means investment for profit. It proceeds through purchase and sale toward the ulterior end of accumulated pecuniary wealth. While industry is a manifestation of the ‘instinct of workmanship’, business is a matter of ownership and power; whereas the former requires integration, cooperation and planning throughout society, the latter depends and thrives on conflict and antagonism among owners and between owners and the underlying population.” – Shimshon Bichler and Jonathan Nitzan.

    Business can facilitate industry and generate “efficient production of quality goods and services for the betterment of human life” but it can sabotage not only production of rivals and of net total societal production but also people’s chances of betterment in health and opportunities (not to mention sabotaging the environment at large). We have already seen a number of egregious examples, under American laissez-faire capitalism in particular, of the sabotage of human health for profit. We have seen the scandal of the opioid crisis, the over-pricing crisis of necessary medicines and the general pricing of medicine above the means of many millions of people.

    With the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen the systematic sabotage of the health of the publics of many nations throughout the globe. China has been the only major nation to buck this trend and continue to pursue suppression of COVID-19. Australia and New Zealand bucked the trend for about two years but are now capitulating to the demand from capital *the owners of capital) the populations of these nations also become infected. This is nothing less than the sabotage of public health. The purpose of the sabotage is the continuation of activities profitable to business.

    The sabotage is misconceived, at least as it relates to small business and its petty bourgeois proprietors, vociferous as they are about “opening up” prematurely which of course creates a virus raged public and economy. The data of the last two years show that nations who suppressed the virus and were tending to eradication maintained a better economy and better public health. What was not to like about this?

    The large corporations were constrained in this environment. They suffered, I contend, differential disadvantage in this environment, though I have not access to the data and methods of analysis which would demonstrate this. Large corporations trading in mass tourism, fossil fuel products, retail-consumer chains in foods and beverages and even trading as landlords of commercial and residential properties found that the circuits of incomes, rents and capitals were disrupted harmfully in relation to their activities. Hence, economies had to open up at the cost of human health (mainly of mere workers and mere poor) and at the cost of the high differential sacrifice (if I might put it like that) of medical workers in particular (doctors, nurses, ancillary staff) who died or suffered serious morbidity to crippling work fatigue and stress in working at the front-lines of the pandemic’s outcomes. All these people have been sabotaged and sacrificed for the profits of corporate capital.

    The medical and pharmaceutical giants (especially but not only of the USA) already had form in sabotaging and sacrificing human health for profits over many years. This was ratcheted up and intensified under conditions of an unnecessarily unleashed global pandemic: a pandemic which could have been nipped in the bud (by early national and international movement lock-downs or failing that a concerted lock-down, quarantining and ring-fencing effort, with emphasis on NPIs as well as vaccines, in the first two years of the pandemic). Instead, we face the runaway, hyper-accelerating, punctuated equilibrium evolution of an extremely dangerous mutating pathogen still only at the relative beginning of exploring the entire potential of its evolutionary fitness landscape. Far worse than Delta and Omicron are in store for the global population, almost for certain. Evolution of near-complete immune and vaccine escape (for infection and transmission effects seems already mostly completed by Omicron. Effectiveness of vaccines against morbidity and death outcome is also declining rapidly. There is no reason to expect a halt to the evolution the virus at the Omicron variant.

    The refusal to suspend vaccine IP monopolies (for research largely paid for by governments) is unconscionable. This is one of the major reasons why much of Africa and Asia, at least, remain un-vaccinated. Pharmaceutical companies are reaping their much greater differential profits because of this. The fact that many people are dying from this sabotage is of no interest to the owners, shareholders and politicians benefiting from this arrangement. In data about COVID-19 pandemic performance, all nations which have permitted more or less unrestricted spread of COVID-19 have suffered significant drops in economic performance. Those that suppressed spread until now, like Australia and N.Z. had much economic performances which held up well.

    The one exception to the above pitcure has been the USA. The USA has deferentially benefited from the pandemic despite having one of the heaviest death rates per million in the world. While deaths and quality life years are not actuarially counted as negatives in GDP this will be the case. But at the same time extra income from being almost the pharmaceutical hub to the world (outside China’s and Russia’s spheres of influence) would seem to be feeding the USA’s performance.

    The USA may also be in the position, with both a large wealthy population and a large excluded underclass (who are forced into the position of being a drag on production) to be able to mass sacrifice lives without a large formally measurable hit on production and GDP. The underclass of the US are truly sacrificable in this sense if one is amoral. After all, they are easily replaceable for menial tasks by the demographic excess of meso and south America. Simply permitting more legal and even illegal immigration can solve any and all of the USA’s unskilled labor shortages and probably even some skilled labor shortages.

    Overall, the course of the pandemic has shown pharmaceutical and other corporations plus laissez-faire capitalism itself behave true to form. People are sacrificable to the Moloch of capital. The genesis and course of the pandemic (in its rapid rise to industrial scale carnage) are both natural outcomes of the processes of capital. It is business sabotage of the people writ large. The genesis of modern zoonoses lies in the remorseless incursions of industrial scale capitalism and food production systems into the remaining wilds and the releases of new diseases for humans from the reservoir of wild pathogens. Humans and remaining wild animal populations are coming in too close daily contact and competition.

    The rapid rise to industrial scale carnage lies in the demand that business continue at all costs and that the sabotage of public and worker health be ignored and completely discounted. Much of the mass of modern humanity is now considered expendable, sacrificable. In a vastly over-populated world there are plenty more where they came from. In a world where automation renders the need for a significant proportion of physical labor and even mental labor obsolete, many humans are now superfluous to technological capital’s requirements. From the perspective of the elites, killing people and making money out of it is just good business. Pandemics now join war as just plain good business: excellent profits accrue to the privileged few.

    But “good business” of this sort is actually antithetical to civilization and human survival. The concomitant or collateral destruction of families, communities, regions and nations will, by these inherently cannibalizing and catabolizing processes degrade the performance and adaptiveness of the whole. A catastrophic implosion is not the same, nor as controllable, as a planned wind-back and redirection of the activities of unsustainable populations and processes.

  19. “My 5 year old immuno-suppressed daughter didn’t build antibodies to the vaccines. She’s a cancer and transplant survivor. Just a bummer. Still, we keep hope. This is why you vaccinate and mask up and take this pandemic seriously. You do it for those who are vulnerable.” – Wajahat Ali.

    “Why else do I urge precaution? For immunocompromised kids like @WajahatAli
    has. I was an immunocompromised kid once upon a time too. I want every kid— including all immunocompromised kids— to survive the pandemic and live to adulthood, Damnit!” – Eric Feigl-Ding

  20. How do booster shots reduce case rates?

    Matt (@crudeoilpeak) tweeted a few hours ago a graph showing NSW new COVID daily cases and hospitalisations from Jul 5 to Dec 22:

    It looks like hospitalisations are beginning to increase.

    Yet PM Morrison says masks are ‘highly recommended’ but national cabinet has stopped short of a mandate. Morrison reportedly said at his press conference (per The Guardian live news update):

    “What matters is the behaviour and the behaviour change and the behaviour to wear those masks in those settings.

    “And so premiers will make calls about what’s the best way to encourage people to do that. Some like to use mandates.

    “Others like to use that encouragement and rely on the individual responsibility to achieve that what matters is that people wear them, not whether people get fined or not.”

    IMO, this is not leadership for a rapidly emerging public health crisis.

    I think as the emerging hospital/medical crisis likely gets rapidly out of control, this could mean the end of Scott Morrison and Dominic Perrottet’s political careers, unfortunately likely at the expense of the health of many people, and probably ultimately significant numbers of lives lost.

  21. I will assume the quote below is accurate, unless I read of a complaint from the Qld CHO and a retraction or correction from the ABC.

    “Not only is the spread of this virus inevitable, it is necessary. In order for us to go from the pandemic phase to an endemic phase, the virus has to be widespread. We all have to have immunity, you will all have to develop immunity and there’s two ways you can do that: by being vaccinated or getting infected.” – Qld. Chief Health Officer John Gerrard quoted by the ABC.

    These statements are disgraceful and a complete abrogation of his responsibilities as a medical professional and a public servant. I cannot fully express my disgust with these remarks without descending into profanity and vitriol. I will attempt to remain objective. Let us unpack his statements.

    1. The spread of the virus has been made inevitable by deliberate and avoidable acts of commission and omission. There was nothing innately inevitable about it. It was a set of policy choices by Australia’s governments and officials plus the foolish actions of an indulged section of the population.

    2. To claim that it is necessary to spread a dangerous disease to go from pandemic to endemic is to turn upside down all the precepts of public and preventative medicine developed from about 1800. What next? Are we going to apply these principles to Malaria, TB and so on?

    3. We all have to have immunity? What medical man would say this as such a blanket generalization? Yes, we all have to acquire immunity if we can and preferably by vaccination, not by infection. But the absolute or near absolute acquisition of immunity by all is impossible. There are many immune-compromised people in our Australian community. Co-morbidities which increase the risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 number in the millions. Here are few examples: 1.2 million people with diabetes in Australia, an estimated 600,000 people with coronary heart diseasea and 1.7 million with biomedical signs of chronic kidney disease. Then there is the immunosenescne afflicting the elderly. Then there are the people who can’t be vaccinated at all for medical reasons or who develop no immunity after vaccination.

    Finally, the new variant(s) are making natural immunity and vaccination immunity seriously leaky. Indeed, it is looking like COVID-19 might acquire serious and possibly permanent immunity evasion without further vaccine and medicine developments.

    Yes, you will have to develop immunity and if you can’t, permission is granted for you to crawl away and die. Just stop bothering us rich, privileged, genetic-lottery winners. That is essentially the message of giving up on disease control.

    This is a watershed moment. Another one! When late, stage capitalism gives up on public and preventative medicine. This is the CHO who claimed he cared about prevetable deaths from pandemics because of his brother’s death when young. What a hollow claim that is revealed to be. Disgraceful.

  22. Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced Australians will be able to get their booster shots after four months from early next year, and then three months from the end of January.

    Professor Adrian Esterman’s prediction has been realised.

    Professor Adrian Esterman tweeted very recently:

    NSW had another 5612 cases and 1 death. The 7-day moving average is up to 3664, but the Reff is still on a downward trend at 1.88, which is a 4.4-day doubling time. There are 382 people in hospital. Hospital numbers have doubled in the last week.

    So, if the doubling rate is 4.4 days, then that’s potentially 10,000+ cases per day by next Wednesday (Dec 29) and 20,000+ cases per day by Sunday (Jan 2).

    There’s some discussion that the already stressed/overwhelmed testing system is not adequately reporting in a timely manner the true infection rate.

  23. Clearly, the trend is to current vaccines failing pretty much comprehensively within another 12 months. I am not saying this will happen but I am saying it is likely to happen on current trends. This would be without further advances in vaccine technology which for sure can still be made. But relying on the current mRNA spike protein vaccines, even updated for new variants, will on its own substantially fail us. We are in really dangerous territory now.

    The only way to stop this pandemic will be vaccines, updated vaccines, new vaccines PLUS hard quarantines, hard lock-downs and mass test, trace and isolate protocols to suppression and then to eradication, country by country, region by region to the whole globe. Anything less than that will leave us permanently vulnerable and facing eventual death rate tallies which will make the 1917 flu epidemic look like a picnic.

    This virus has many more evolutionary options and niches available to it. A set of the most dangerous is cross-jumping from humans to animals (wild and domestic) and back to humans, over and over again. There is nothing to stop that. The virus is mutationally flexible enough. Anything can and probably will happen. Neoliberal methods of “countering” this virus will be a never-ending crisis leading to disaster and collapse. A new strategy is required.

    “…Prof Mary-Louise McLaws, a professor of epidemiology at the University of NSW and adviser to the World Health Organization, praised the plan to have asymptomatic casual contacts use free rapid antigen tests instead of adding to the state’s already overwhelmed PCR testing queue capacity.

    “I’m pleased authorities are starting to appreciate how RAT tests can be used as important public health tools … they cost a fraction of PCR tests to conduct.”

    McLaws suggested people using RATs when they were a casual contact of a case should wait until two days after their exposure to take their first test – to allow antigen levels to pick up.

    If the first RAT was negative, she advised no further tests until five days after exposure, by which point, if the virus was present, it would most likely register.”
    “There are 15 different rapid antigen tests approved for sale in Australia (excluding South Australia and Western Australia), but the accuracy and cost vary between products…”

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