More on the Morbidity Risk of Omicron: “Like a Chess Grandmaster Playing Against Schoolboys”

More on the Morbidity Risk of Omicron: “Like a Chess Grandmaster Playing Against Schoolboys” 1

The officialdom in the US and abroad has been engaging in even more aggressive efforts to normalize the ongoing risk of contracting Covid. Mind you, plenty of prominent voices, from antivaxxers to the health ministry of Sweden to the Great Barrington Declaration types have been misrepresenting the dangers of contracting Covid by comparing it to winter bugs. But the common cold doesn’t leave you with months of crushing fatigue and brain fog, or heart inflammation, or kidney damage, or greater risk of getting cancer….or even possibly developing Type 1 diabetes.

Moreover, it’s not clear whether patients who suffer these afflictions fully recover. There’s also reason to doubt how much vaccines blunt this kind of damage by virtue of blunting the most dangerous symptoms but not preventing infection or even moderate to pretty bad cases. For instance, a 2021 study found 20% of asymptomatic Covid cases resulted in long Covid.1 The prevalence of “mild” cases under Omicron is actually worse than the prevalence of asymptomatic cases under Delta, since mild is worse than asymptomatic. Nor do we know if treatments that reduce the severity and duration of Covid cases curtail or even prevent morbidities. If treatments do a better job of curtailing long-term damage than vaccines, we have our Covid strategy backwards.

However, rather than study these and other basic but important questions intensively, our so-called public health officers have more and more become water boys for the pols. As a result, if they had once tried to appear that they were doing anything other than “Let ‘er rip,” they are openly capitulating. One blunt statement came from the UK’s Dr. Clive Dix, the former chair of its vaccine task force. Per the Guardian:

Covid should be treated as an endemic virus similar to flu, and ministers should end mass-vaccination after the booster campaign….

With health chiefs and senior Tories also lobbying for a post-pandemic plan for a straining NHS, Dr Clive Dix called for a major rethink of the UK’s Covid strategy, in effect reversing the approach of the past two years and returning to a “new normality”.

“We need to analyse whether we use the current booster campaign to ensure the vulnerable are protected, if this is seen to be necessary,” he said. “Mass population-based vaccination in the UK should now end.”

He said ministers should urgently back research into Covid immunity beyond antibodies to include B-cells and T-cells (white blood cells). This could help create vaccines for vulnerable people specific to Covid variants, he said, adding: “We now need to manage disease, not virus spread. So stopping progression to severe disease in vulnerable groups is the future objective.”

The fact that Dix is talking about T-cells is discrediting. First, T-cells are a secondary line of immune defense. By the time they wheel into action, an infection is advanced, potentially dangerously so. Second, T-cells are a first line of defense against cancer. They wander about the body and attack the cancers you are growing all the time and stop them before they become dangerous. Adults pretty much do not make new T-cells. Even early in Covid, T-cell exhaustion and derangement were cited as dangerous outcomes because depleted cells increases the risk of getting cancer. And oncologists are reporting an increase in cancers, including formerly uncommon cancers, beyond what can be explained by pent up demand due to interruptions in access to doctors and treatment facilities.

As we will see shortly, this “stopping progression to severe disease,” as in dealing only with limiting acute infections, conveniently excludes the considerable health damage many experience from the harm equation, By contrast, Finland has warned that long Covid could become its biggest chronic disease.

Yet while Omicron being so wildly different from earlier variants ought to have produced a big push for better understanding, public health officials appear to have given up on collecting basic information, like how many people are hospitalized. IM Doc says the official count for his hospital is less than 1/10th the cases admitted as Covid cases. And cases? Reporting from states like Florida was becoming spotty, one wondered if by design.

One needs to wonder no more:

And widespread home testing made the fog of war problem vastly worse: the lack of reporting of results to public health officials plus poor accuracy (tendency to false negatives, made worse due to prevalence of poor sample collection).

Instead, we’ve seen ever more efforts to find happy factoids, whether they even stand up to scrutiny, and put them front and center in news coverage. A glaring recent example hyped misleading research: Covid loses 90% of ability to infect within 20 minutes in air – study.. This study is a preprint, and is based on a bizarre simulation…of droplets. As Lambert has explained ad nauseum, Covid is transmitted by aerosols. So this is facially a garbage in, garbage out piece of research. Yet I cannot tell you how many readers sent reports of this study to me via e-mail.

GM pointed out that a study sows doubt about widespread empirical evidence of Covid’s contagiousness is awfully convenient:

That will be used to argue for further relaxation of containment measures, to the extent that there are any.

Never mind that we have well documented instances of people getting infected by entering a room in which an infected person had been hours before that, people infected in hotel quarantine through doors being opened for seconds, or even never at the same time, across the open windows of separate buildings located close to each other, etc.

So one has to wonder what exactly the motivation behind that study is.

But even if correct, right now it probably takes only one viral particle to lead to a fulminant infection. So “90% reduction”, even if correct, does not really mean what the headlines imply it means

Another Omicron porcine maquillage strategy is to push the idea that Omicron cases are likely to decelerate rapidly. That is very likely but many enthusiasts are drawing the wrong conclusions, that this means that Omicron or even Covid will soon be over, as opposed to this Omicron spike may soon fizzle out. With Omicron having such a short period to transmission and high contagiousness, this variant is quickly burning through available targets at a blistering pace. But when it recedes, that does not mean it’s over. Victims will have immunity for only a while…six months? A year?

And back to the original big lie about Omicron, that it is mild. Just because it doesn’t often turn the lungs of the sickest into bloody goo does not make it tame. IM Doc (whose clientele skews towards health fetishists and outdoorsy types) has said he has plenty of patients who are very sick. And he is not alone:

And for the latest too-good-to-be-true planted story,2 we’ll turn the mike over to Lambert:

Can’t anybody here play this game?

Study, from medRxiv, is not peer-reviewed. Further, deaths lag cases, and death reports lag deaths. Surely it’s extremely early to opine on the “reduction of the risk of death”? If the administration wishes to rebuild trust, this is not the way to go about it.

And again, that piece yet again serves to reinforce the bad idea that deaths are all that matters with Covid, when as we’ve had to keep saying, the morbidity impact is far more serious population-wise, particularly since those who were impaired by one bout of Covid have good odds of becoming more impaired when they succumb a second (and third and fourth) time.

Mind you, the US is far from alone in deciding the great unwashed public can’t handle the truth. Reader BillS presented this find on Tuesday:

Covid propaganda machine in Italy is shifting gears. Repubblica came out with a headline that the covid numbers are too high and they number of positive test results should no longer be reported. They also say that hospitalizations do not reflect true covid cases. I presume the high hospitalization numbers uncomfortably contradict the vaccine-will-save-us narrative..and they need to come down by hook or crook! https://www.repubblica.it/cronaca/2022/01/11/news/non_ha_piu_senso_contare_ogni_giorno_i_positivi_il_bollettino_quotidiano_diventa_un_caso-333455943/

And Biden is patting himself on the back for putting citizens in harm’s way of the sake of the economy. Too bad “supply chain fodder” does not roll as trippingly off the tongue as “cannon fodder”:

More on the Morbidity Risk of Omicron: “Like a Chess Grandmaster Playing Against Schoolboys” 2

And Lambert found that the CDC’s recommendation of only a five day quarantine was not, per Eric Topol of Scripps, based on zero evidence, but actually contradicted research findings (emphasis his):

Since December 3, 2021, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) and the Disease Control and Prevention Center within the National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM/DCC) have jointly initiated an investigation on Omicron cases in collaboration with several medical facilities in Japan. Here, we examined the duration of infectious virus shedding in Omicron cases identified early in this investigation. A total of 83 respiratory specimens from 21 cases (19 vaccinees and 2 unvaccinated cases; 4 asymptomatic and 17 mild cases) were subjected to SARS-CoV-2 RNA quantification using quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and virus isolation tests. The date of specimen collection for diagnosis or symptom onset was defined as day 0. The amount of viral RNA was highest on 3-6 days after diagnosis or 3-6 days after symptom onset, and then gradually decreased over time, with a marked decrease after 10 days since diagnosis or symptom onset (Figure). The positive virus isolation results showed a similar trend as the viral RNA amount, and no infectious virus in the respiratory samples was detected after 10 days since diagnosis or symptom onset (Table). These findings suggest that vaccinated Omicron cases are unlikely to shed infectious virus 10 days after diagnosis or symptom onset.

And last but not least, GM explains why the apparent “less badness” of Omicron, by not being as destructive to lung tissue, is lulling researchers into complacency, when they should be worried about damage to other sites:

So the thing about Omicron is that it replicates better than previous variants in cells that have high ACE2.

Previously it needed ACE2+TMPRSS2.

Now it needs just ACE2.

A quirk of that is that it now replicates worse in cells that have low ACE2 and high TMPRSS2.

Which happen to be the alveoli.

So you don’t get as much really brutal ARDS (though you still get plenty of it).

But nobody has any actual data on what happens in other organs, except for in vitro studies in cell culture.

We do know, however, as I said above, that it replicates better where you have ACE2.

And you have high ACE2 all over the body.

So logically one should expect worse internal organ damage than before.

This also makes a certain amount of sense if it evolved through an 18-month systemic infection — it had plenty of time and selection pressure towards that to have adapted to infecting internal organs.

The problem for all of us is that COVID is really three diseases at once:

1. The acute URT infection
2. The hyperinflammatory reaction in the alveoli that causes ARDS
3. The systemic infection that damages hearts, kidneys, beta cells in the pancreas, endothelial cells, the brain (though perhaps not directly), etc.

People mostly die immediately from #2.

They also die from #3, and will be dying of it in very large numbers in the future, but that does not enter the official statistics and thus can be ignored politically.

With Omicron we get worse #1 (high ACE2 in the bronchi and above them in the URT), less severe #2, and we have no direct data on #3, but logic says it is worse, for the same reasons #1 is worse.

But because #2 happens to be the immediate killer that grabs attention, the rest can be ignored with a sufficient amount of propaganda.

And that is what happened.

The virus has been like a chess grandmaster playing against schoolboys so far. This was the worst move for us it could have played — go to a lower immediately apparent virulence after Delta. Just enough to allow politicians to go ahead with letting it rip. Then it will probably come back with a vengeance with something even worse than Delta derived from one of the 1st-generation variants, but by then letting it rip will have become the default policy…

You have been warned.

_____

1 Typical for the lack of adequate investigation in these areas, one study that claimed to study morbidity and abseenteeism was too short to identify lasting health damage and keyed off days missed from work, as opposed to full exams to ascertain the extent of known and potentially hidden damage.

2 Flogged by a flack at HHS.

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