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Re: NYT today on vaccines..please read (ALL)

Posted by Jay2112 on December 20, 2021, at 21:17:12

In reply to Re: NYT today on vaccines Thoughts?, posted by SLS on December 19, 2021, at 19:46:25

> The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is estimated to be 5 times more transmissible / contagious than the Delta variant. At first, there was some conjecture that Omicron produced a milder COVID-19 disease. There are now reports that Omicron is just as virulent as the Delta variant. Omicron will become the dominant strain in the United States in just a few weeks. It is possible that Omicron spreads more quickly than Delta, but is just as lethal. I doubt there is a consensus.
> - Scott

I don't think there is a consensus, and this bit from the New Yorker (behind a paywall) tells some important details in the trends of Omicron, to the anti-vaxxer's dismay. (Scott...absolutely NOT saying you are one...quite the :)

"The first piece of good news is that this wave might be shorter lived than those of other variants. Every country is different, of course, with different population structures and different levels of immunity, both natural and from vaccination. But in South Africa, it appears that, while test positivity is still growing throughout the country, in the Omicron epicenter of Guateng the wave may be peaking already, with cases and hospital admissions both taking a visible turn, barely three weeks since the variant was first publicly announced and just five weeks since the first likely case. Guateng is not all of South Africa, of course, but a fast local peak still suggests the possibility of a very fast first wave. If the pattern holds and is replicated in the U.S., it could mean an American Omicron peak of cases sometime before the end of January."


"The second piece of good news is that as the wave progresses in South Africa, the cases continue to appear mild. This data is still early; typically, infections take several weeks to complete their clinical course, and probably we wont have a clear picture of the relative severity of Omicron in South Africa for another week or two, either. (As science journalist Kai Kupferschmidt wrote recently, This pandemic has been all about communicating uncertainty and it doesnt get more uncertain than early data on new variants.) On top of that, the picture will reflect conditions in South Africa as much as the inherent severity of the new variant, which means that, while illuminating, that forthcoming data will not be definitive, at least as concerns the future course of the Omicron elsewhere in the world. As William Hanage and Roby Bhattacharyya have argued, the early data might just reflect local acquired immunity, which offers significant but incomplete protection against severe disease, rather than innate properties of the variant itself. (This would make the relative protection of a given population a much more significant factor in the ultimate course of the wave than even how severe Omicron itself is.) But while excess deaths are beginning to grow in Guateng, indeed at the same rate as earlier waves, there are reasons to believe that the ultimate toll will be smaller than with Delta and earlier variants namely that, unlike in those previous waves, deaths in this wave are increasing at a much slower rate than cases are. At the moment, as John Burn-Murdoch of the Financial Times has tabulated, cases in Guateng are at 95 percent of their Delta peak, with deaths at only 10 percent of that peak; in the U.K., the proportion is the same. That is not to say that we should expect, at the end of the wave, proportionally only one-tenth as many deaths as were observed in the earlier waves there is a lag, often several weeks long, between case peaks and death peaks. But it is nevertheless an encouraging sign that the early indications that Omicron might produce, overall, more mild outcomes are still holding.

And the third piece of good news is that we now have a possible biological explanation for reduced severity, which gives the observed preliminary data another layer of plausibility. That comes from research by the University of Hong Kong, which finds that the new variant is much more efficient in reproducing in the upper respiratory tract, where you can cough and sneeze it out onto others, and much less efficient in the lungs, where it will be most dangerous to the infected host. A few weeks ago, in the very earliest days observing Omicron, the epidemiologist Francois Balloux called this the highly optimistic scenario which, if it came to pass, would mean the world had gotten really lucky. (He also suggested it could be a sign that the virus was, in fact, evolving in response to vaccines not in the way anti-vaxxers believe, by making it more virulent, but the opposite.)"


Humans punish themselves endlessly
for not being what they believe they should be.
-Don Miguel Ruiz-




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