Covid Vaccine Whack-a-Mole?

From early on, we pointed out that the officialdom in the US was wagering heavily on magic Covid vaccines as the solution to the pandemic. They made that position explicit when the CDC went into “Mission Accomplished” mode and gave the public license to stop wearing masks if they were fully vaccinated. Not only was that decision risky given the proportion of the population that had gotten the needed jabs was under 50%, but it also gave the refusniks, as the wags on Twitter put it, to declare that they identified as vaccinated.

Our Covid brain trust continues to be of the view that combatting Covid will require a multi-pronged approach, including treatments like antivirals. By contrast, the vaccine boosters argue that mRNA vaccines can be developed so rapidly, in a week, that it will be easy to fire up new versions to beat back new variants. But even so, approval, manufacture, distribution and persuading people to get another shot all take time, as in months.

GM has sounded some cautionary notes, such as the vaccines being less effective on the immuocompromised and the elderly. For instance, from the abstract of this paper:

Here we assessed humoral and cellular immune responses following vaccination with mRNA vaccine BNT162b22 in elderly participants prospectively recruited from the community and younger health care workers. Median age was 72 years and 51% were females amongst 140 participants. Neutralising antibody responses after the first vaccine dose diminished with increasing age, with a marked drop in participants over 80 years old. Sera from participants below and above 80 showed significantly lower neutralisation potency against B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. variants of concern as compared to wild type. Those over 80 were more likely to lack any neutralisation against VOC compared to younger participants following first dose. The adjusted odds ratio for inadequate neutralisation activity against the B.1.1.7, P.1 and B.1.351 variants in the older versus younger age group was 4.3 (95% CI 2.0-9.3, p<0.001), 6.7 (95% CI 1.7- 26.3, p=0.008) and 1.7 (95% CI 0.5-5.7, p=0.41). Binding IgG and IgA antibodies were lower in the elderly, and frequency of SARS-CoV-2 Spike specific B-memory cells was higher in elderly responders versus non-responders. We observed a trend towards lower somatic hypermutation in participants with suboptimal neutralisation, and elderly participants demonstrated clear reduction in somatic hypermutation of class switched cells, particularly in the IgA1/2 isotype.

GM also pointed out:

We have historically never had much of success with viruses. Treatment is symptomatic.

We can keep you alive with the more recently developed antivirals if you have HIV, but not cure you.

And we’ve had fairly good proper cure success with antivirals for hepatitis C.

And that’s about it.

Antibiotics are (though that is to change to “were”) truly miraculous, because with those you could target broadly conserved key cellular mechanisms that are unique to prokaryote biology. Viruses by their very nature are not as susceptible because they hijack our own cellular machinery to replicate, so any drug that hits them hard at the level of replication will have serious side effects on our own cells at way too high doses. Meanwhile the battle is against runaway exponential replication and it can easily be lost if treatment has not started early on. That leaves various mechanisms specific to each virus (if there are such mechanisms, which may not be the case) but that means slow and arduous development of specific drugs for each virus. Which has been tried for the most important ones and success has been meager.

COVID’s pathology is such that I would not expect any proper treatment any time soon, if ever.

Much of the damage is done by your own immune system 1-2 weeks after infection has started, not by the virus itself. And for that we have the immunosuppressants that are already being used, and they do lower mortality, but are no miracle, and once you are at that stage, there will probably be lasting damage.

The hyperactivation of the immune system is driven by the runaway replication of the virus, but the problem is that the virus has a laundry list of mechanisms for silencing and hiding from the immune system. The result is that much of that replication happens unnoticed, until it’s too late.

If there is ever an effective antiviral, it will be effective only during that early state of replication, the problem with which should be obvious — it happens while people are hardly aware of it or they still have minor symptoms. If everyone gets tested daily so that all cases are caught early and treated on time, then we might be able to treat them effectively. But that is in no way a “return to normal”, nor is it really logistically possible.

Having said that, there is an intranasal vaccine under development, described in May in MedicalXpress that seems particularly promising. but even if all goes well, it’s not likely to be launched until late 2022, which is a way away. GM again:

This will likely work — the Novavax vaccine is not all that different, and it does work. There was also another paper in Science earlier this year using a conceptually similar approach.

It is also very nice they tried it intranasal — we have to stop transmission, and intranasal vaccines will do that.

The problem is it will not get us out of the yearly to biannual booster cycle — it will probably still wear off within that time frame and require boosters. Anything intranasal will probably wear off quickly.

In other words, advanced economies are hardly in a position to declare victory, yet that’s what we’ve done. Maginot Line, anyone? The extent of magical thinking and class loyalty is remarkable. I’m insulated from it by not getting out much, but reports from many quarters confirm that if you are a right-thinking person, and particularly a right-thinking medical person, you are all in for the vaccines.

As KLG put it:

What I hear, both from clinicians at work and my friends on the street and the golf course (there are three Lefty walking golfers in the US, but I haven’t yet met the other two), is that vaccination is the true, final, and only answer to COVID-19. The non-scientist tends to view all vaccines through the lens of Jonas Salk/Albert Sabin: get vaccinated and never worry about polio or whatever particular affliction again. Those of us with a scientific or medical background have no excuse. Which reminds me that medical education, which is a large part of my day job, really and truly has a rickety scientific foundation these days. This has not always been true. We generally just tell ’em what they need to know, preparing them to listen raptly as Pfizer tells ’em what they will need to know in 6-8 years. I fight this, but at some point after I am told for the hundredth time that I am a “facilitator” (i.e., one who makes something easy) rather than a scientist/tutor/teacher/mentor with long and relevant experience who makes this possible, I will just STFU.

And GM:

I’ve also noticed how people here [elite institution you have heard of], even though if there is anyone with the capacity to understand the pathogenesis of the disease and the course of its evolution, it is them (many work on the immune system daily and have done so for years) who show exactly zero interest in doing so. We are talking about people who have published dozens cutting-edge immunology papers, including on topics directly relevant to the intrcicacies of COVID pathogenesis, and some of them work on those in the context of COVID right now. And yet…

And they have apparently checked out many months ago, some never checked in to begin with — I had many baffling conversations with people I highly respect for their scientific capabilities all throughout 2020 that showed very weird lack of knowledge of the problem.

But it is really bad now — all the cognitive biases are on full display. “Science” has saved the day and “we”, as in “scientists”, i.e. our perceived in-group, have triumphed, so what could be wrong and how could there be a problem?

And then there is the class conflict aspect of it — most “scientists” right now are perfect examples of the PMC type, and this “solution” to the problem suits them very well — last year around that time everyone was in panic, stock markets were down, university endowments were in free fall, tuition money had stopped flowing in, etc. Now the stock market is up, endowments have recovered, students will be herded back to campuses in the Fall, and even if they have to be sent back in November, tuition will have been collected by then, so everything is good, right? Who dares spoil the party with objections and bleak progonostications about the long-term future?

I’ve literally had people say to me “I don’t want to listen about any doom and gloom”…

I’m also not keen about the pre-positioning of blame if things go pear shaped on states with low vaccination rates. Here in supposed dirtbag Alabama, the Covid test positivity rate in Jefferson County, the most populous county, is 1%.

By contrast, the better off are in a position to do much more traveling and frequenting of bars and restaurants on average than lower income cohorts. And even though international travel is very much dampened down due to many destinations having strict quarantines) I have already heard of one vacationer who went abroad coming back with a not horribly symptomatic case….which was enough to infect members of his work group). A real test coming soon is the resumption of Caribbean cruises.

As I too often say, it would be better if I were wrong. But continuing to wear KN/N95 masks seems like a cheap hedge.

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  1. vlade

    For me, many of the scentists failed. There was a strong push “miracle of safe CV vaccine” last year, from people who should really know better.

    That lead to the “vaccine = problem goes away” stuff, with many a public vaccination campaign being built like that in the first place.

    I guess the fact that no vaccine is perfect is being ignored. 90% effectivness (which, if really true, would be actually awesome, just somewhat less than measle vaccine) is 90%. It STILL means that for a billion exposed vaccinated people we’d still get 100 millions (yes, millions) who could get sick.

    Or put it other way – it still means one in TEN vaccinated may still get a serious case of Covid. Put three generations of a family togehter, all vaccinated as much as they can, and you still have quite a high statistical probability of CV death in the family.

    The other way how I’ve seen this shown was that vaccinations moves you down on the mortality curve by 20 years. So if you’re 70+ year old, you can still die of Covid, but your chance is that of an unvaccinated 50 years old now.

    TLDR, even vaccinated people people die.

    But none of that is being said, instead everyone runs victory laps now. Except the UK, which run its victory laps already and is now seeing massive growth of cases anyways (hello India FTA!).

    1. Terry Flynn

      Agreed. It is the latest example of something I first became aware of back during my PhD (turn of the millennium) in health services research. At a conference the “father” of Empirical Bayesian (EB) model estimation stood up and made a rather surprising comment. Bear in mind that this “era” of public policy incorporated things like Gordon Brown espousing Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium (DGSE) models. Everything was about the “nice shiny toys” that could be played with to “solve everything”.

      EB had rapidly come to dominate ALL the modelling done for NICE in deciding whether some new medical intervention was sufficiently cost-effective to be funded by the NHS. Yet the father of EB stated, clearly very agitated, that “things have gone too far”. He berated the health economics community for developing a tool nobody else understood and which was encouraging a philospohy of “doing this subject because I want to get famous by inventing a tweak to models that is cool”. Where, he asked, was the fundamental goal of “public health, saving as many lives using a given, limited, real stock of resources?”

      There was an uncomfortable silence. Like at Xmas dinner when the elderly relative makes a bigoted comment and nobody wants to challenge him because he’s a bit ga-ga but everyone is thinking “how do we change the subject?”

      Two years later a professor who knew a fair bit about EB admitted to me over a dinner that he was party to a peer-review process of a model that was about to be approved by NICE. NICE typically “took the statistics on trust” and rubber-stamped things. He found, in a single line of code, that a plus should have been a minus. He ran some simulations to see if this would “change the decision” on whether the proposed intervention “passed” or “failed” NICE’s test (and whether it might, even worse, pass and allow a treatment that would kill someone). Thankfully it didn’t make a material difference. Overall. But in a world of “fat tails” we simply don’t know if some key subgroup of patients might have ended up getting an NHS treatment that was inappropriate. He admitted that the number of people in the UK that NICE could draw upon to check these models was now no more than 10. The “father of EB” had seen this coming and had appealed for “simpler models” but “multiple checks”. Here’s where we go back to the “multi-pronged vaccine strategy”. He wanted 3+ independent ways of testing these new meds, in the same way that older Boeing planes have 3+ totally independent hydraulic systems.

      My field, like others in academia and broader areas of health, had come to be dominated by people who believed their “big shiny toy” would always work and solve the problem. Engineers shake their heads and tut – quite rightly. Whatever happened to having 3 independent systems to safeguard people? Lose that and planes start to crash, buildings collapse and vaccines work….until they suddenly don’t and there are no other contingencies in place until a new vaccine can be developed. Society (and academia in particular) now actively selects on the basis of “deep knowledge” at the expense of “wide knowledge”. This is profoundly dangerous.

  2. The Rev Kev

    What is vital during these times is to have consistent, truthful facts given to us by the medical authorities so that we can make accurate judgements. So about half an hour ago, I was listening to an announcement by Brad Hazzard. Who is he when he is at home? Why, he is the NSW Health Minister down here in Oz. He was talking about infections at a party of thirty people. He said that 24 of these people caught the virus and none of them were vaccinated. The other 6 people were all health care workers and all have been vaccinated and none of these 6 fell sick. Sooo, if you get a vaccine, you can’t get sick. Right. Good to know-

    On a lighter note, two men were nude sun-baking here when they were started by a deer so they ran into the bush where they promptly got lost. One had managed to grab his mobile before running away and so called the police who sent a search & rescue team plus a chopper to go get them. After they were rescued, the police then fined them a $1,000 for breaking Covid restrictions. Only in Australia…

    1. Lemmy Caution

      To your first story, there is a tendency for authorities to proclaim that the vaccines essentially give you superpowers.

      “You don’t need to get regularly tested,” “You don’t need to wear a mask,” “You can go back to normal!”

      In fact, a recently published CDC study found that among a group of nearly 4,000 fully vaccinated people, 9% of them experienced breakthrough infections.

      The group included 3,975 participants whose occupations included health care workers, first responders, frontline workers, and other essential workers — all groups more likely to be exposed to the virus. The study period was from December 2020 to April 2021 — a period that included the absolute peak of 300K+ new daily covid cases, along with a four-month period where the daily case count hovered around the 65-80K levels.

      Interestingly, the study added clarity to the CDC line that people with breakthrough infections were “less likely” to spread infections.

      “…fully or partially vaccinated study participants had 40 percent less detectable virus in their nose (i.e., a lower viral load), and the virus was detected for six fewer days (i.e., viral shedding) compared to those who were unvaccinated when infected.”

      So breakthrough cases still have significant detectable virus in their noses.

      The study also found that the vaccines reduced the viral shedding period of the breakthrough cases by 6 days — meaning that breakthrough cases were still capable of shedding that virus for 4-14 days (The CDC has said that the typical length of the shedding interval is from about 10 day for mild cases to 20 days for more serious cases).

      All of this merely backs up what we knew going in — that breakthrough infections were going to be a fact of life. Ignoring or downplaying them doesn’t make them go away.

    2. Randy G

      Rev Kev — It’s funny that I’ve hiked in many places all across Australia and never realized you had deer! I’ve seen the camels, the water buffalo, the foxes, the feral cats, and of course the rabbits and plague-like cane toads are more common than the Australian native species.
      Been startled by Eastern Grey kangaroos bounding at me at head-level on several occasions — and that does get the adrenaline going until you realize that they are only bolting for the exits.

      A deer terrorizing you to such an extent that you get lost naked in the Bush? Talk about courage under fire.

      Maybe the police fined them, not for the Covid violations, but for being royal wankers who wasted a lot of professional resources on rescuing them.

  3. vlade

    My level of understanding biochem and all this is read-up laymen. So I could be way wrong here, but I have a question.
    With things like flu, cold etc, the virus strains that prevailed are the ones we managed to live with (mutually).

    How does it actually work in terms of mechanics, as I’d still think there would be evolutionary pressure on the virus to become more transmissible, if not necessarily more deadly?

    Could we use virus evolution to, in effect, make it more liveable with, one that would occcupy the niche and suppress worse strains?

    There’s also secondary thing, that we’ve really outsourced a lot of our evolution to medical industry. I.e. in the past, epidemics survivors (if any) would likely have the gentic equipment to better deal with that pathogen again. With drugs, we’re in effectu suppressing that evolution, for better (clearly) and worse (possible). But I don’t see any easy solution here.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I also just have a laymans view here, but I’ve seen it argued that the use of vaccines in a pandemic (as opposed to after one) is potentially accelerating ‘bad’ evolution in the virus, a little like giving people with bacterial disease low or incomplete doses of antibiotics. Some very credentialed people have written counter arguments that are beyond my pay grade to assess in a meaningful way. Over the past year though I’ve given up assuming as a default good faith in the writers of published scientific papers.

      In historical terms, I don’t think there is a clear pattern in how viruses spread over the longer term. In herding animals, diseases have been known to kill 95% or more of a population in regular recurrences, so I don’t think you can assume that viruses always by necessity become less dangerous. There are also plenty of examples of viral diseases that seem to have just burnt themselves into extinction naturally. Evolution is blind, there are many examples of species adopting themselves into a dead end or to an end point that seems very illogical. Ask any panda.

      I think the only thing we can say for certainty is that we are interfering with the natural dynamics of a virus in an unprecedented manner, and nobody can really say for certain how this particular virus will adopt to our attempt to tame it.

      1. vlade

        Absolutely, I’m not expecting that all evolution ends well – in fact, almost all doesn’t (and over longer time periods, none does).

        But some viruses we can live with relatively ok, so part of my question was whether it’s even fundamentally possible (or whether we even know how to answer that question) that we could with this one. Say the CV virus from 100 years back, we live with, despite it causing mayhem then.

        I’d not bet on it of course.

        1. Ignacio

          Clinical microbiology statistics show that by far most viral diseases are those caused by virus that enter through the respiratory system. It is the ‘easiest’ entry way for these pathogens, and there are many hundreds of these.Immunity against such diseases is generally short lived because our immune system cannot keep the high antibody levels required in the respiratory mucosae and for so many viruses. This solely explains why the vaccination will not be as effective as in other epidemics. This is the strategy of rhinovirus (more than 100 serotypes that come back once and again) de various dozens of adenovirus etc.
          Flu is a different thing and have a special strategy based on its ability to create genetic variability regarding the immunogenic proteins. From time to time a new avian flu strain creates havoc while we have been ‘accomodating’ older strains. Flu strains tend to be less virulent with time as the epidemic advances.

          Epidemiology models say that during a new pandemic, while most humans are naive to the new virus, the evolution tends to favour strains that transmit more easily and are tyipically more virulent. That is what we have seen with Sars CoV 2 so far. When most humans have developed immune responses the landscape changes and more virulent viruses will elicit stronger responses while less virulent variants might have more opportunities to evade it or pass unnoticed (and cause less harm. We are now in a mixed situation where both evolutionary trends take place.

          Though vaccination might not be as effective as with other viruses it still helps to change the evolutionary landscape. It might accelerate the turn to less severe outcomes, that is what I expect, though SARS CoV 2 will still be damaging in successive years, i expect a diminishing death toll year after year until it becomes another corona mainly causing common cold but sometimes complicated in more or less severe pneumonia.

          One of the things I dislike about this virus is that the immune response can itself be quite damaging like in miocarditis. When I see the reactogenicity of Spike protein based vaccines i have a bad feeling. Yet I would always recommend getting vaccinated but further boosts might be more damaging than expected.

          1. Basil Pesto

            thank you for this wonderfully informative post. I might have to cling to your prediction as it best straddles the realist-optimist line about how the virus develops.

    2. Jason Boxman

      Interesting — I’ve been wondering for a year what if we manufactured a variant that was relatively benign, but dominated. But that seems like playing with fire.

      It’s unfortunate vaccination isn’t being used as part of a multi-pronged national elimination strategy, while they’re still relatively effective. I hope this isn’t a huge missed opportunity. But we can’t even get paid time off for people to get vaccinated as a national policy. It’s almost as if the goal is failure.

      And I saw a headline in the NY Times yesterday asking if (American?) Democracy has failed at responding to climate change… lol. How about the pandemic?

      1. Mantid

        I’ll bet the US, Chinese and French scientists in Wuhan will say that’s what they’ were trying to do, as a last resort defense in the upcoming trials – criminal that is. /s

    3. GM

      It matters what the virus does to the body.

      The common respiratory viruses are mostly harmless because they do not have the very potent mechanisms to wreak havoc on the body that this virus has.

      The viruses that SARS-CoV-2 descended from have evolved to fight the very strong innate and adaptive immunity of bats, which are their natural hosts. So they have layers upon layers of mechanisms for immune evasion and silencing.

      Bats are fine because they have coevolved to exist with such viruses over millions of years. About the only virus that affects bats seriously is rabies, everything else, including Ebola, Nipah, etc. is (or at least is thought to be) asymptomatic.

      But we have not coevolved with those nasties over millions of years, so they are deadly to us. Over time we may adapt to them, but “over time” means time scales much longer than a single human live, and “adaptation” means lots of death and suffering.

      The really big problem that is being kept entirely out of the public discourse is that SARS-CoV-2 actually appears to be a strange mix of enhanced features and attenuation — the spike protein is highly optimized for infecting humans, but the rest of it is very weak at fighting the innate immune system compared to the close relatives. This is probably why it is not as deadly as SARS-1, and why so many people have a mild course of the disease. And it is also one reason for the persistence of the lab leak theories — such a mix of features fits very well the properties expected from a failed live attenuated vaccine that partially reverted and leaked. But even if it is not that, most mutations that will make it more fit in the future will make it more deadly, not less.

      And that is exactly what has been happening over the last 18 months…

      1. Mikel

        I have a question now that the talk by pharma CEOs has picked up about the need for boosters, which should be penetrating the minds of people slowly into realizing that the proctection factors are not only waning with time, but waning based on geography and biology.

        Is the emergency approval, for mRNA vaccines as an example, based on the studies of a two shot vaccination process? How does the emergency approval extend to the mass use of an experimental vaccine beyond two shots? What studies were presented at that time that would lead to the automatic emergency approval of three, four shots within 6 – 18 months? They still haven’t completed observation of those studied in the first round (people with two shots), which accounts for the uncertainty about the length of time for protection.

        Observation (key in science) over long periods of time seem key when dealing with evolotionary factors.

          1. Mikel

            Seems more like it is about mRNA approvals than fighting Covid. Now I’m looking at the non-mRNA boosters (like Novavax) and treatments coming down the pike that are related to coronaviruses/Covid and seeing that as the difference. Or am I missing something?

          2. Shonde

            With permanent approval, is the pharma company then subject to liability? Is the liability shield lifted?

        1. GM

          It will probably be approved without trials and everything else, as a single-shot booster.

          The problem is that right now we actually already have multiple antigenically distinct variants.

          At least four of those in fact — the two that people have heard of, B.1.617.2 from India and B.1.351 from South Africa, but there also others emerging from other areas of Africa (such as B.1.620) and from South America (C.37) that you will be hearing a lot more about in the near future, and yet others that are even less notable at the moment.

          It’s very different mutations in each of these.

          So what do we do now? Four different boosters for each? But by the time those boosters are in people’s arms, we will have yet more variants do weal with.

          So right now the thinking is shifting towards giving people a third dose of the same booster, the idea being that because all of these new variants are divergent from the ancestral strain, they are more distinct from each other, than they are from the ancestral sequence. Thus we go for 70-80% protection against all variants rather than 90% against one and 50% against others.

          Needless to say this is not a very good solution at all.

          But this is the game of variant-whack-a-mole that we have set up for ourselves with our refusal to eliminate the virus.

          The pan-coronavirus vaccine may get us out of that particular jam, but it will not solve the problem of boosters being needed every one or two years.

          And it is absolute lunacy to rest the normal functioning of society on vaccinating the whole population annually or biannualy while allowing the virus to spread and continue to evolve.

          That is how you get Marek disease-like developments…

      2. Raymond Sim

        Thank you for addressing these issues. I’ve been terribly disheartened by the difficulty of persuading people to even consider that the virus could be something other than a kind of health class cartoon character that we’re sure enough gonna beat, for sure, so long as we’re good and obedient, or brave and free or whatever their preferred moral take is.

        God forbid I mention bats.

        1. Raymond Sim

          I do have a quibble though. I’ve become allergic to ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ in descriptions of immunological combat.

          “… very weak at fighting the innate immune system compared to the close relatives”

          Isn’t that a bit like comparing Apache raiders to the Wehrmacht?

      3. vlade

        Thanks for the response.

        Thinking about it, I’d have actually answered my own question, because it’s a bit less of a co-evolution and more of a one-sided evolution in the host. That can be seen from the fact that for the original NA population, even European flu could be deadly (never mind smallpox and the host of other diseases). The virus was the same for Europeans and NA natives, but Europeans were “pruned” (for a lack of a better word) to be more resitant.

        That is of course a strategy that we don’t really want to follow.

    4. Medbh

      “With things like flu, cold etc, the virus strains that prevailed are the ones we managed to live with (mutually).”

      I wonder if we’re confusing cause and effect. Maybe it’s not the “viruses we managed to live with,” but rather the “people who managed to survive the original infection.” The virus isn’t getting weaker; the population that survives it is stronger. If that’s the case, then a lot of people die to create that “milder” looking virus.

      The distinction matters there seems to be an assumption that over time covid will settle down and play nice. What evolutionary incentive does it have to do that?

      Given the global population, it has almost an infinite number of hosts, especially if immunity diminishes over time. If it’s not going to run out of hosts, and it can transmit before the original host dies, there is no reason that a less lethal or transmissible variant should evolve.

      1. GM

        There should be no expectation of attenuation at the level of the virus, all the selective pressures are exactly in the opposite direction.

        The people promoting the idea that the virus will attenuate and that it will do it on a time scale of a few years, serve the same agenda as those who were trying to have everyone infected as soon as possible to build “herd immunity”.

        1. Raymond Sim

          It cannot be said loud or often enough, the more we learn about SARS-CoV-2 the more dangerous we realize it to be. And the less reason we have to even hope for it to attenuate. All the selective pressures are towards immune evasion and pathogenesis – which in this case absolutely go hand-in-hand.

          We’re not going to tame it. It’s going to cull us.

          1. GM

            A big part of it is the stubborn refusal to make the connection to SARS-1.

            From the very beginning it was described as a “novel disease”, “we don’t know much about it”, etc.

            When in fact we knew from the start that this is SARS-2, just a milder version.

            There are some immunological differences, but mostly the disease is very similar. And we knew damn well long before COVID that a disturbingly huge proportion of the SARS survivors never recovered even a decade later (25% to 50% depending on the cohort studied).

            But, again, there was this very strange refusal to make the connection.

            The name “COVID” itself is a part of the problem — it was named that and not SARS-2 quite explicitly in order “not to cause panic” (the discussion from late January and early February 2020 around that are public). Which is the exact opposite of what should have been done — causing panic by making sure people know this is SARS-2 is exactly what was needed.

            There would have been a lot more resistance from the public against the decisions by the politicians to let the virus become endemic had their been that understanding.

            Also, people might have started to ask the big most important question about SARS-CoV-2, which is how the hell does this thing have a super-optimized spike protein and is many time more contagious yet it is 5-10 times less lethal than SARS-1? Which makes no sense whatsoever if it was all about the spike. So it is about the other proteins (which fight innate immunity), and that also points to a very obvious and disturbing future course of evolution…

            1. Raymond Sim

              Allowing that I’m not knowledgeable in these matters, it does seem plausible to me that a strain of virus that was beginning to spend at least some of its time in humans might have first evolved towards things like environmental persistence (Humans being thinner on the ground than bats in a cave, I’m thinking.) at the expense of the high-tech immune combat traits, all the while improving the specificity of its spike protein.

              Given the profound insufficiency of appropriate disease surveillance I imagine this could go on for years and years with us none the wiser. Then the big jump happens, caused by – conjugation? g.o.f.?

              On the other hand there were those guys who wanted to vaccinate all the monkeys in all the jungles …

              We don’t talk about them do we?

            2. Raymond Sim

              “So it is about the other proteins (which fight innate immunity), and that also points to a very obvious and disturbing future course of evolution…”

              So it is in fact obvious? I certainly think so, and we’re certainly on course for it.

              The general obliviousness is heartbreaking.

        2. Mikel

          All I know is that whenever anything happens to someone individually it will be quantified away and dismissed as “acceptable.”
          So this is in the realm of “can’t be too cautious” for me.
          My mask stays on…

    5. Hayek's Heelbiter

      An interesting observation regarding how the virus mutates…
      et al.
      Money quote:

      B.1.1.7, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant first found in the United Kingdom. That strain, which appears to spread faster than others, contains one of the mutations that Gupta found, and researchers believe B.1.1.7, too, may have originated in an immunocompromised patient who had a long-running infection.

      Read this and other articles for greater details on the evolutionary mechanisms behind the mutations.

      1. Phillip Cross

        In the 2014 book, “What If?” by Randall Munroe (XKCD fame), he tries to use science to answer “silly hypothetical questions”.

        One of the questions is something like, “Wouldn’t the common cold be wiped out if everyone was in self-isolation for some time?”.

        His answer includes this, “The third problem is the most serious one and it unravels the whole plan. Namely, not everyone has a healthy immune system, and in immunocompromised people (more than 3% of the world’s population) a rhinovirus can linger for weeks, months, and even years. What’s scarier is that the virus would need to survive in just a few hosts for a few weeks to reappear in the world once the quarantine was over. ”

    6. Maritimer

      “There’s also secondary thing, that we’ve really outsourced a lot of our evolution to medical industry. I.e. in the past, epidemics survivors (if any) would likely have the gentic equipment to better deal with that pathogen again. With drugs, we’re in effectu suppressing that evolution, for better (clearly) and worse (possible). But I don’t see any easy solution here.”
      Excellent point. And I would say the Primary issue and one that I have yet to see addressed by Public Health Experts/Scientists.

  4. sd

    Just a mere mortal. Pharma has no real interest in our health, just its own profits.

    I’ve decided just to keep wearing masks, even if it does mean being the only one in the area. I also bring my own air purifier to work with a hepa filter, and I’ll continue to try to minimize social engagements. I’m tempted to lie if people start asking why and tell them I’m wearing a mask because my mother is in chemo. She’s dead, but I think she’d approve.

    1. Judith

      I just say this on WSWS:

      The dangers of the spread of the Delta variant were made clear on Friday by World Health Organization official Dr. Mariangela Simao who warned that, according to CNBC, “People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves.”

      Dr. Simao continued, “Vaccine alone won’t stop community transmission. People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene… the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you’re vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing.”

      The World Health Organization’s warning about the continued need for vaccinated people to wear masks constituted an unstated rebuke of the US Centers for Disease control, which last month encouraged unvaccinated people stop masking, leading to the abandonment of mask mandates throughout the country.

      1. Nikkikat

        I have seen this statement from WHO on internet news feeds. Nothing on any main stream news or websites. We went out a little later than usual yesterday to get groceries. It was absolutely scary to see everyone without masks. We went into one store and coming in the door saw no one in a mask. Lots of seniors in particular.
        This has been our experience as we do go out early. We are in our mid sixties. The
        People we are encountering are older. We still wear mask and glasses and are avoiding any indoor places except the grocery. I have had neighbors say “didn’t you get vaccinated”? when they see us in mask. When I tell them that there is breakthrough infection on vaccines their response is a blank stare. The other response is a look like I am conspiracy nut. I get absolutely infuriated about the CDC. I saw a puff piece the other day on CDC head Walensky, stated she was just a researcher and had never been the head of any org. We can tell!

        1. XXYY

          Yeah, the CDC’s recent “Mission Accomplished” announcement really failed the citizens of the US. Getting a grudging and reluctant acceptance of social distancing measures and the establishment of new social norms in the US took over a year of hard work. Then the CDC for some reason decided to throw that all away in a week, in the process giving political cover to every political and business leader who wants to eliminate protections for the public.

          Now we pretty much seem to be back to where we were in March 2020: No masks, every business and venue at full capacity. Pandemic? What pandemic?

          Quite remarkable.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    There are so many things to unpack here. I think much of it comes to a jaded surrender to the seeming inevitability of Covid becoming endemic, while ‘right thinking’ people will be getting their regular shots (I suspect we’ll migrate soon to regular workplace shots), so they don’t have to worry.

    As an example, I’ve seen recently a few UK articles on the topic of people with two shots dying from Delta variant that can be summarised as saying ‘nothing to worry about, they are just the old and sick or very unlucky’, which is of course looping right back to the old libertarian argument of last year. In other words, we’ll accept a number of deaths so long as I can go on holiday and eat in nice restaurants again. So the vaccines have allowed authoritarian leaning liberals (which is most of them) to become libertarians when it suits them.

    Another example of the looping argument I’ve seen in Ireland, where indoor dining and meetings are still banned is that ‘everyone in Europe can eat in a restaurant, why not us?’. Well, the answer is that they accepted higher death rates (Ireland has among the very lowest death rates in Europe according to official figures – probably even lower as Irish authorities have been unusually honest in counting them). So the success of mitigation strategies is being used as the argument against them.

    I’ve also noticed how the zero Covid movement has been marginalised and effectively cut out of the conversation pretty much anywhere. I think most of them have given up anyway as they can see they’ve lost.

    As for medical professionals – I’ve heard far too many unscientific comments from the medical professionals in my family/friend circle over the past year. I understand entirely that many are overwhelmed with their workload and so simply accept what they are told on their regular zoom updates. Many have become active and willing enforcers of the official narrative, in which any questioning is not permitted. And they are being given a very narrowly focused view in which the vaccine is seen as the silver bullet. Several times I’ve heard unambiguously false statements from people who are far smarter and educated in medicine than I am. I’ve given up challenging them, which may well be one reason they are circulating even among circles who should know much better.

    My guess is that even if the virus comes back with a roaring vengeance after August (which looks quite possible), we will simply be told that its a figment of our imagination and all those dead old folks were just unlucky.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I’ve also noticed how the zero Covid movement has been marginalised and effectively cut out of the conversation pretty much anywhere. I think most of them have given up anyway as they can see they’ve lost.

      Quite so, and I’m particularly worried about this in Australia where zero covid policy has had some success. Melbourne just came out of another lockdown which nipped things in the bud. So, we understand intuitively now that these measures work. But at the same time, a lot of the reaction/discourse was ‘if we’d had vaccines everything would be okay!’ (our vaccine rollout has been slow). Peer pressure and vaccine pride among my peer group is pretty high, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing I guess (unless the vaccines all make our dicks fall off in four years time or whatever), but I’m worried at some of the magic bullet-type thinking that’s going around, rather than a bit of humility and caution.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’ve noticed a few articles along the lines of ‘oh yes, the Chinese/Koreans/NZers/Taiwan did pretty well in 2020, but they can’t keep this up forever, and in the meanwhile, we have been number 1 with vaccines and are getting back to normal!’

        There is a sort of gaslighting going on whereby countries that have been quick to adopt vaccines (invariably, those that were slow to stop the virus in the first place), are now claiming to be on the right side of science. They are, of course, praying that Delta doesn’t prove them wrong over the summer.

    2. Mikel

      “…which is of course looping right back to the old libertarian argument of last year. In other words, we’ll accept a number of deaths so long as I can go on holiday and eat in nice restaurants again…”

      As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I spent part of quarantine binging Kitchen Nightmares. I can chill on the eating out for a good while longer. Lots of restaurants on even tighter budgets now….

    3. GM

      My guess is that even if the virus comes back with a roaring vengeance after August (which looks quite possible), we will simply be told that its a figment of our imagination and all those dead old folks were just unlucky.

      Up to a certain point quite a large number of deaths can be successfully hidden.

      Countries like Belarus, Kazakhstan, Egypt, and many others have shown the way.

      As long as there isn’t one huge giant wave like in India that causes total collapse of everything.

      There was a very mistaken but widespread view last year that only red states were hiding deaths in the US, when the reality was that at some point more than a third of California’s excess deaths were unaccounted for .

      And the current administration has been actually putting in action precisely the “no testing and reporting means no pandemic” policies that the previous president suggested on many occasions but did not dare implement.

      So who knows…

      The US came close to hospital collapse on quite a few occasions — NYC in April 2020, Arizona in the summer of 2020, LA and many other places in January 2021 — but it only came to the brink of it, it did not actually reach the point of telling people to go die at home as has happened elsewhere.

      So it is not at all unimaginable that the US can tolerate 100K, 200K, even 300K deaths or more as background in the system. That would not collapse hospitals.

    4. JL

      ‘As for medical professionals – I’ve heard far too many unscientific comments from the medical professionals in my family/friend circle over the past year. I understand entirely that many are overwhelmed with their workload and so simply accept what they are told on their regular zoom updates. Many have become active and willing enforcers of the official narrative, in which any questioning is not permitted’ My only quibble with this is that the self-satisfied dogmatic rigidity of quite many medical professionals and professionals of the hard-sciences that you describe have, in my experience which is not so short at all, been this way all along and before so; the higher up on the hierarchies of success, the more so

  6. .Tom

    Are we looking at the development of large health differences along class lines, in which one class has higher mortality, illness and long-term health problems? This class likely also has less or worse health insurance and access to care. While the other class scolds and blames.

  7. Lupana

    So, just because I am needing some hope, has anyone seen anything believable about how this ends?

    1. norm de plume

      Or perhaps ‘whether this ends’…

      ‘There is an infinite amount of hope in the universe … but not for us’

    2. Krystyn Podgajski

      If you want to know how things end, my advice to you is to seek the answer in religion and not through science.

      Depression is living in the past, anxiety is living in the future, peace is in living the present moment.

      1. kareninca

        I’m depressed about the future. I’m not anxious at all. I’m religious, but I’m not seeking peace. I think there must be some individual variability.

    3. XXYY

      I think it will “end”, in the sense of getting down to a tolerable global death rate, but will take much longer than people think it will. Right now, about 12% of the global population has been vaccinated, which is a good start but nowhere near what is needed to dampen out spikes of new cases. I have seen predictions of 2-3 more years to get this number up to 80-90%, itself something of a guess of what’s needed to create an unfavorable environment for the virus.

      Unfortunately, most of the media and personal focus is on what’s happening in “my country”, whatever that may be, but one thing we have learned in this pandemic is that we are all swimming in the same pool and whatever happens at one end affects people at the other within a few months.

      If I may be so bold, I might venture to say that this sense of inevitable interconnectedness among all people is one of the silver linings of this pandemic, and a sensibility we will need to have going forward to solve other looming crises like war, hunger, and climate change.

      1. Tom Doak

        I do not see how we will ever “get this number up to 80-90%”. It certainly won’t happen in America anytime soon, and sooner or later, it will become a political thing that if many Americans feel the virus is unnecessary, they will also feel it is not our responsibility to provide it to the rest of the world.

        And the rest of the world can’t afford 80% vaccination rates.

    4. vw

      Take this as just one possibility, of course, but I have yet to read anything directly countering the possibility that in America, for all intents and purposes, COVID-19 is finished as an epidemic. The spikes in cases and deaths from last year/early this year closely paralleled those from the 1918 epidemic (in shape, not in total counts) and if we use that as our reference, COVID-19 has already passed from terrifying society-wrecker into a endemic disease. This would mean that the people, as a whole, have already acquired sufficient herd immunity – mainly gained from the roaring waves of COVID-19 that swept across our country last winter. It will never be gone from our world, but the chance of it further risking our medical system would be nil in this scenario. It will take about as many lives this fall/winter as a virulent flu, and decrease over time. Other countries that are seeing spikes right now would be earlier in the natural disease curve – perhaps it kicked off later there, for a variety of potential reasons – and therefore have a hard road ahead.

      There may be data I am not yet aware of that disproves this, of course. But if true, COVID-19 itself has settled down into a much more friendly relationship with us. What’s left over, in this case, would be the societal trauma of the epidemic, the lock-downs, the bad communication and even bad faith of those we trusted to manage this and protect us, and the shakiness of our economy after the incredible manipulations the Fed conducted in the money supply to keep us all afloat. And, possibly, some vaccine side-effects…

      Each and every one of these will need to be worked through in turn. But COVID-19 may no longer be an active crisis. We can only hope, right?

      1. Lupana

        I really hope so! I don’t care if I never go to another restaurant, movie theater or store. All I want is to be able to safely see my kids and family all of whom live far apart.

        1. vw

          I mean… please don’t take this as an authoritative statement from an expert, or any sort of guarantee of the future… but if neither you nor your family members have any comorbidities that make them susceptible to COVID complications–and especially if you all have been vaccinated–why wouldn’t you be able to go see them?

          I offer the following only as a thought experiment. Life has always been full of risks, we’re just accustomed not to see them. You were always in danger of sudden death or disabling merely by driving a car to see your loved ones – or they you. We’re in a historical moment where so many previous certainties were yanked out from under our feet so aggressively, that I sense many people are in a psychological crouch, terrified even to move (maybe literally), lest even one more cherished assumption of safety be ripped away. It’s 100% understandable, and I was there too for a while–but I have been doing a lot of mental and spiritual work lately on trying, to the best of my ability, to only be afraid of what is actually a threat right now, and to let all the rest be something I calmly observe, and analyze on its individual merits, instead of getting swept up in another wave of fear.

          I follow case numbers and they have been holding steady in my state for months now, declining if anything. Deaths have dramatically declined, probably because of advanced treatments. If you would like an extra level of protection, prophylactic use of ivermectin has a very low chance of causing any side effects, and a pretty decent chance of preventing COVID transmission, per NC’s own reporting. If that’s a bridge too far, Vitamin D supplements, zinc tablets, and elderberry syrup are comparatively effective for the same purpose.

          In a way I count myself fortunate that our family could not financially survive full isolation with a toddler, and that we “broke” our isolation relatively early, letting grandparents come to us (with full understanding of the risks) to help care for him. It was nerve-wracking at the time, but we all avoided COVID (to the best of our knowledge). Now, after they have all been vaccinated, we have been interacting with complete normalcy for months. They all take copious Vitamin D supplements as well, and have since the beginning of this thing.

          Again, there are no guarantees in this life, and I am not an authority. But my family and I live a normal life in every possible regard right now. My mother came across state lines and spent the all of last weekend with my little son – she took him to the pool in her hotel, first big pool in his short life, and discovered that he loves to swim <3 I have gained wisdom – painfully – about the importance of enjoying the moment, instead of living too much in the potential future, and the limits to how much safety we can actually claim in this life. My mental health is even stronger now, per my self-analysis, than it was before COVID-19 ever happened.

          I hope that you have a chance soon to meditate very carefully on the particulars of your own situation. Perhaps there is a way for you and your family to see each other in a way that is safe enough to meet your circumstances. I sincerely hope that for you all.

          1. Lupana

            Thank you for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. I think a lot of the problem for me has been that information and advice has been so all over the place that I don’t know what or who to believe. Most of us are now vaccinated. I had a bit of a scary reaction to the first dose so am going to delay the second for a bit. We’re all careful as far as masks so maybe what I really need is a news holiday more than anything. Out of curiosity – how much Vitamin D do you all take?

            1. vw

              I just asked my father about his prescription; last winter, he took a pill daily that was 125 mcg/5000IU. After vaccination, though, he stopped taking them. Full disclosure, I took some of his pills for a while back in December… but they gave me diarrhea! I switched to gummies from a brand I trust, Nordic Naturals, no more than one a day, 25 mcg/1000IU. Lately I have not been taking them every day because I’ve been getting more than enough sun where I live (I spend time outside every day in the garden).

              Boy, I hear you about the information and advice being all over the place. I read as widely about this stuff as I have the patience for, but I have to filter every single new piece of information through my priors, and compare it against my personal BS filter. Both pro- and anti-vax sites have a goodly share of complete bullsh!t, mixed in with good arguments/data. The only thing I think can be said for sure is that we aren’t going to understand the exact balance of benefit vs. downsides to these vaccines for at least 10 years. I could easily make a case going either way, pro or against. But only time and hindsight will properly answer the question.

              The media and public health organizations in this country have a lot to answer for, forcing people like you and I to have to scroll desperately through the Internet while trying to learn the fundamentals of microbiology and immunology as fast as possible in order to figure out, all alone, what the right choice is to save our lives and health. Let’s leave it at that.

              Truthfully, since my husband and I are trying to get pregnant right now, I’ve decided not to get the vaccine this year, due to it not being around long enough to properly test for fertility issues (in my view). But my husband and my older relatives and all my friends – none of whom are concerned about fertility issues – went ahead and got it. None of them have experienced any long-lasting issues, knock on wood, though a few of my friends had a pretty rough “day after”. So I guess here, too, I could argue both sides – my social circle has gotten the vaccine and are fine. But… I am not getting one right now, because of my concerns. I hope your reaction didn’t cause any lasting damage. I can’t say what I would do in your situation, because I would get the J & J vaccine as a rule when and if I get one, to have the business over with quickly… in no small part to prevent this scenario. If Novavax or other traditional-method vaccines are available next year, I would absolutely get one of those above all current options. Maybe that will be an option for you down the road, as well.

              I’m not qualified to tell you what the right thing is to do… but maybe no one is. I guess in your situation, I would sit down and meditate through exactly what level of risk I am personally comfortable with, and emotionally accept the potential consequences. Then once you’ve figured out what you would be OK doing, contact your family members and ask them directly if they’re comfortable with that – or not. If they’re not, don’t visit, give them some more time and space. But if they are, and they are equally OK with the potential consequences, I would go to see them. It’s been a long year, and life is all too short.

              I’ve thoughtful-ed my way into a late bedtime, so enough of that! I wish peace upon you, in these all too interesting times. I hope we all come through them OK, or at least as OK as is possible.

              1. Lupana

                Thank you again for your kindness to a stranger! I will certainly think on what you say. I also questioned the vaccines for a long time – which is hard because you immediately get labelled an anti vaxxer and Trump supporter which I am absolutely not. At this point, I got one and am like you waiting to see what happens with the Novavax. For now it’s a combination of 1 dose, masks and avoiding crowds which is easy as I don’t like them anyway and we live in a rural area.
                My husband and I have sort of decided that unless things get much worse, we will likely drive out to see our son who lives on the other side of the country next summer. As you say, life is short and we don’t know what else is coming down the road so spending time with the ones we love is not ever to be left until later.
                Peace and blessings to you and your family –

      2. GM

        It is a grave mistake to be comparing this to flu pandemics

        There is nothing in common.

        Flu pandemics come and go.

        This is an introduction of a new class of a pathogen into the population.

        It will not go away and it will not get milder.

      1. kareninca

        If everyone took ivermectin, wouldn’t that put evolutionary pressure on the virus to mutate so as to get past ivermectin? So as someone who is taking ivermectin, but avoiding being vaccinated, perhaps I am better off with other people not taking ivermectin. Not that I would act on that guess in advising anyone, and in any case I’m not advising anyone, and this is just speculation.

  8. Wiliam Hunter Duncan

    Is it just me or is it starting to feel like this is the beginning of the end of civilization as we have known it and humanity is going to be preoccupied with this thing for the next generation at least?

    1. vw

      Yes to the first part, no to the second. At this time, I expect other events will overtake the remains of COVID-19 fairly swiftly.

      I don’t know if this will console you the way it does me (after a fashion), but Business As Usual ™ always had a shelf-life. That which cannot continue, will not continue. It is tragic that it had to crash into the COVID-19 shaped wall at such a high speed, but since no part of our society demonstrated any serious interest in gently and gradually extricating ourselves from our high levels of fossil fuel use, political corruption and gridlock, and the outright psychopathy among our corporate and financial organizations, sailing over a cliff was the only option remaining.

      What’s ahead is a reorganization of our society on different principles, and eventually, a new Business As Usual. But we probably aren’t in the deepest part of the crisis yet – the sign that this period is coming to an end will be an unambiguous and powerful movement by every part of society towards the new consensus, as well as terminating with extreme prejudice all hold-outs from the ideas that didn’t win. I base this on the Fourth Turning theories from Howe and Strauss, which have turned out to be unfortunately accurate to our times for a book published in 1999. Under this theory, we will be in active crisis as a society until a year somewhere in between 2025 and 2035.

      The bright spot of this incredibly depressing possibility – yes, there is one! – is that the end of “civilization as we have known it” does not mean the end of life. (Provided one survives the precipitating events.) Civilizations regroup themselves after a crisis, in almost all cases. This era will be followed by one in which there is an intense focus on community values, and in which the leadership is more effective and widely trusted. I’ll be in my 50s, probably, before we get there. But… we will get there!

      The one bit of advice guaranteed to be true in this world: “This, too, shall pass.”

    2. IM Doc

      This is so far right on the script that many other pandemics have brought to the stage before.

      They are not necessarily the cause of the disruption – but they are what starts the dominos falling. They have a history of exposing all of society’s problems for all to see.

      This one has performed its task well.. We will see how bad the dominos falling is in the future compared to previous pandemics.

      I for one am not entirely sure this virus is yet done with humanity, but that which has already been unleashed has to play out as well.

  9. jr

    There was a huge rooftop party at the apartment building behind ours the other night, dozens of people singing and yelling and dancing.

    More and more people going maskless on the streets and on the train between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

    Something that really hit me: The other day I was out with the pup and noticed a trio of ladies talking excitedly amongst themselves up the sidewalk a bit. They were dressed for dancing and were going about how excited they were to be going out for the first time in whenever. One opined that it was time for you know what and at that they all began to dance and laugh and carry on.

    Any other time I would be mesmerized but this actually made me quite depressed. It’s not time to go out, it is definitely not the time for intimacy with strangers, it’s not at all freaking safe. One of those ladies could very well be in a hospital in a few weeks. Maybe all of them. This is their time to run wild in the City and live it up but it’s not safe. Everyone is telling them it is. None of them were wearing masks.

    The bar down the street has a chalkboard announcing that they, and all NYC!, is back and ready to start anesthetizing it’s denizens whole-sale once again. I haven’t drank in a year plus and I don’t miss it but I do miss the warm, easy glow of the beer signs and low-wattage bulbs of my old spot. I miss hanging with my gang.

    But when I look into the window at the patrons, I get a chill. The place is roughly the size of a medium mobile home and it’s filled from end to end with people huffing in each others faces. Laughing and yakking, as they should in a bar. No one wears a mask but it would be pointless in that space anyway.

    I’ve been telling everyone I know about the Betadine gargle and I get a lot of nods and “Makes sense!” and no one does it. I explain that a lot of medical professionals use it, that there is good science to back it up, that it’s a cheap and easy defense as well as a cleanse. No one cares.

    There is a point where I, at least, have to let go and distance myself from it all. What is going to happen is going to happen. I did a Tarot reading the other night and basically got told that all the preparation in the world cannot fully prepare you for the unknown. I did another and got told that despite all the preparations, there is going to be tragedy and loss. I already knew this but when you see it laid out in a symbolic narrative it helps to crystallize it in your head.

    I will continue to gargle, mask, hold my breath when around others, avoid crowds, and double mask on the train etc. I use a surgical mask under a CUP 95 because I have a fuller face; my partner has a smaller face and uses a K95 with a surgical underneath. You know it’s working when the surgical pulls in as you inhale, meaning your airflow is coming through the weave. I have my hopes for the future but I also shy away from hope as it can cloud what one needs to see at hand.

    So it goes.

    1. Nikkikat

      The news last night had film of a pride parade somewhere in NewYork city. The sidewalks were packed 20 deep with people yelling and laughing and not a mask in sight.

    2. Nikkikat

      What is the ratio of water to betadine for the gargle? I would like to do this also.

      1. jr

        “ The study demonstrated that undiluted PVP-I ((Betadine Gargle)) achieved >5 log10 reduction in the virus titres at 15, 30 and 60 seconds treatment exposure under both clean and dirty conditions. In contrast, when PVP-I was tested at 1:2 dilution a >4 log10 kill at 15 seconds and >5 log10 kill at 30 and 60 seconds in comparison to control was seen in both clean and dirty.”

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        The Japanese mouthwashes with povidone iodine are 0.5% and a small scale study on people already infected (!!!) found that gargling 4x a day lowered the hospitalization rate by 75%.

        A study in Singapore of a 0.45% throat spray administered 3x a day reduced the odds of getting Covid by 56%. IMHO a spray has to be less effective than a gargle, gargle clears out any nasal discharge in the back of the throat and gets the iodine for sure on the tissues.

        Another study tested the use of povidone iodine nose sprays and gargles and found they were safe to use in concentrations of up to 2.5% for up to 6 months. They didn’t go beyond that.

        Only counterindication I know of is high thyroid. But you should check.

        The povidone iodine you get in stores is 10%. I would suggest diluting it 9 to 1 (to 1%) or even more.

    3. Zsx

      “So it goes.” LOL. Vonnegut’s ashes belly-laugh in an undisclosed location. Hope can cloud what one needs to see, sure, but so can this sort of determined doom-vision.

      1. jr

        I’m sorry my friend but acknowledging that things are quite likely going to play out in a particular, and yes bad, manner is not “determined doom-vision”. I don’t do “doom” because I have a perspective that encompasses and finds meaning in human tragedy. “So it goes.”, to my reading, means that what is going to happen will happen and that will determine the range of our agency in it all. I’m doing what I can but a lot of other people don’t know or don’t care to know that the danger isn’t over at all.

        1. Zsx

          All right, and I’m with you there, and probably the ghost of Vonnegut is, too. But « danger » is a vast category, encompassing too much, and too vaguely, and the steamrolling of all proportion strikes me as borderline insane. You wrote that you’re holding your breath around other people, while also wearing your double mask — I mean, are there any other mortal risks that you treat with such intensity day-to-day? This truly isn’t meant as an attack, but the calibration seems way off to me. You live in NYC, where the case rate is vanishingly small right now. If you’re under 65, if you’re vaxxed besides, unless you have a bunch of comorbidities, the danger of severe illness to you is closer to nil than if you ever take a taxi across town. But you’re worried about people going out and living (drinking! dancing!) as though they’ve made some deep error in reading reality—as deep as swallowing the ice-9!

          1. jr

            Forgive my hurried writing, I only hold my breath when unmasked or poorly masked in tight spaces…I was a soldier as well and I tend to codify safety measures into habits. (You’ve never seen a safer dog walker than I.)

            I don’t think the partiers etc. have made any errors at all, not consciously at least. I mean obviously some people do stupid things but it’s been an unlevel playing field to say the least. They have been misinformed about the proper safety standards, they have been cast to the wind in terms of economic support during a freaking pandemic, and they rightfully distrust their bumbling and corrupt leadership. Toss in a strong cultural streak of anti-intellectualism and a oftentimes immature sense of personal liberty and you have got some problems when faced with Mother Nature on a rip.

            These ladies were in their 20’s and full of life, I was saddened that this time of their lives has been compromised in such a way. The bar folk were closer to my age, late 40’s to early 50’s, and they too deserved their time to relax and enjoy themselves. If it weren’t for Delta and Co., I probably would have started hanging out at my old spot again, albeit with edibles.

            1. Zsx

              I see. And the safety-measure to habit translation is a wise one—though you won’t be surprised that I’m wary of creating habits that can’t be appropriately broken (and in this case I suppose we differ over the definition of « appropriate »). I agree that one of the saddest aspects of this mess has been its impact on the young. They’ve been spared much of the physical damage but will bear a large excess of the psychological burden, now and into the future, however long it is, whatever it looks like.

    4. Mantid

      jr, I feel that way about global warming. Temps in the NW of US off the chain record breaking – in June! Yet, people driving in their SUVs and trucks with windows up and AC on. Drives me crazy. The worst is waiting in line at McDonalds with the idle on. Just like people with lung cancer from smoking, still doing so while plugged into an O2 tank. We had a nice run, but it’s over.

      I actually think this is part of the reason people are so flippant with Covid – we all (deep inside) know society is collapsing so why not……….

      1. jr

        Yeah, agreed on all that Mantid, it’s the same on the streets here. I think people are understandably mentally and spiritually overwhelmed. Not to mention materially. YOLO is their cry. I think they are in for a surprise with all that but I cannot fault them one bit.

        A catastrophe is a catastrophe in the best of circumstances but our society is literally designed to be torn apart at the whim of so-called natural forces such as the market, blah blah….no wonder people feel like it’s all too much. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a “lie down” movement here, probably already have in some way or another. I’d say “So it goes.” but now Zsx has me scared of Vonnegut’s ghost. Not that I wouldn’t be honored to be stalked by the shade of Vonnegut but still….

      1. Isotope_C14

        Unless Introverts made the virus in a lab. In that case…

        (Lots of introverts in the science area)

        I don’t know if I fall into either category, but I’d sure love to be dancing to anti-social goth-industrial or punk once every 2 weeks or so, than sitting indoors for 1.5 years.

    1. GM

      Quite symbolic of the overall approach.

      It is not like they had set hard targets on which actions depended, but still, let’s follow the officially stated reasoning, which went something like this:

      “We vaccinate 70% of adults and we reopen everything”

      Multiple things seriously wrong with that.

      1. Who told them that the herd immunity threshold (HIT) is 70%? That implies a R_0 of ~3.3, That was probably way too optimistic even for the original Wuhan strain, but it is quite clearly absurd for B.1.617.2, for which the HIT is very clearly above 80%, quite possibly above 90%.

      2. It is absurd and contrary to all logic and scientific practice to calculate the HIT on the basis of a portion of the population, as if the virus can read people’s IDs and out of the goodness of its heart it will not infect anyone under a certain age. But vaccines are not approved for kids yet.

      3. The real HIT is the % vaccinated times the effectiveness of transmission reduction. Optimistically the latter is 80% for B.1.617.2, i.e. even if we vaccinated 100% of the population, we are likely below the HIT.

      But even if were to take the “70% adults” as some reasonable guidance, even though it is not, what did they do?

      They gave first doses to 70% of adults, and reopened the same day, even though it takes 6 weeks after that first dose to complete the vaccination.

      Many states never reached 70% anyway, but still reopened fully.

      And the CDC dropped the mask mandates long before any state had reached 70% even with first doses…

      1. flora

        What about the people who got covid and recovered? They must have some naturally acquired immunity now … isn’t that right?

        1. Raymond Sim

          Key point:

          … the problem is that the virus has a laundry list of mechanisms for silencing and hiding from the immune system.

          I don’t know why it’s so hard to get this across to people.

          1. saywhat?

            Except how does one recover from Covid in the first place without a functioning immune response?

            1. Raymond Sim

              I don’t imagine one does recover, but that’s not the issue, at least not often, not yet.

              The point is, even if you’ve had the virus, and your immune system is being its best self, within a few months, maybe a year, you’re most likely vulnerable to reinfection, even by the same strain.

              This isn’t suprising, it isn’t even unusual. What’s shocking is that so many MD’s seem unaware of something a veterinarian or poultry patholgist could tell them all about.

              1. saywhat?

                within a few months, maybe a year, you’re most likely vulnerable to reinfection, even by the same strain.

                Might not the immune system have a good reason to allow immunity to lapse for some diseases but not for others? Such as to avoid auto-immunity?

                Anyway, we shall find out since some will not get vaccinated anyway and that’s the way it should be with experimental vaccines, ie. have a control group.

                1. Raymond Sim

                  What makes you think your immune system has a good reason for doing anything?

                  And how could it be a ‘good’ thing that your immune system can’t protect you on account of it might starting eating you its own self?

                  No good, no bad, no reasoning, just a path-dependent configuration largely determined by chance.

                  1. saywhat?

                    And how could it be a ‘good’ thing that your immune system can’t protect you on account of it might starting eating you its own self?

                    What’s to prevent a virus from masquerading as a part of the body? So in the short run it might make sense for the immune system to shell its own “troops” in order to get the enemy “troops” too but that’s obviously not a long term solution.

                    So temporary immunity might be the best strategy for certain viruses.

                    Anyway, we shall see. And need I remind that the first H-bomb explosion had TWICE the expected yield and that was only nuclear physics? Do you think the immune systems of billions of people are simpler?

        2. Larry Y

          How much immunity, and for how long? Manaus in Brazil and other places say not enough…

          Too much wishful thinking. The closest likely parallel, the Asiatic or Russian “flu” of the 1890’s doesn’t give me much optimism. The 1918 flu took several years to play out, and immunity for flu viruses lasts longer than coronaviruses.

          1. Raymond Sim

            Manaus, NYC, Southern California, South Africa and India all followed the same pattern – resurgence, driven, so far as we can tell, by whatever strains happened to be around, then the emergence of a new more destructive variant.

            How long can this go on? Like GM said, the virus was starting from a low level of immune attack. It could very plausibly take a long time, getting much much worse.

  10. thoughtful person

    Based on CDC policy choices (no masks needed) the clear end plan is endemic spread, and annual (or biannual) booster shots.

    This will likely mean a bit of a higher than normal fatality rate for the next few years, particularly among the 80+ cohorts and the unvaccinated 50+ (or younger depending on new variants for ex “delta+”?).

    The drop in life expectancy, esp for lower income groups will continue…

    1. IM Doc

      That is of course assuming that people will be able to handle repeated mRNA vaccines. There is considerable doubt in my circles that will be possible. Each successive one brings on a stronger reaction. Sooner or later, the reactions are no longer minor.

      All will be known soon enough.

      1. GM

        It will hopefully be Novavax-type vaccines in the future, intranasal too.

        It still does not get us out of the booster cycle unless we go for elimination, but it should have fewer side effects and should prevent transmission better.

        Having said that, the current “plans” very clearly do not seem to have been made with such provisions for the future.

      2. Evelyn Sinclair

        Please expand on your doubts about the tolerance for repeated mRNA vaccines! This has been haunting me and I want to know what you’re seeing.

        Are people getting third injections and having dangerous reactions, or is this a projection from the known factor of the second dose bringing on a much worse reaction than the first?

        Too early for knowing what a general third round of “booster shots” will do.

        But please tell me your basis for “Sooner or later, the reactions are no longer minor.” If that’s true, then the whole premise of “booster shots” is nullified.

    1. GM

      I’ve seen those suggestions too, but this is actually quite strange.

      20,000 years ago humans lived in small bands that rarely interacted with each other

      How did a non-latent respiratory virus cause a widespread epidemic under such conditions?

      1. JBird4049

        People usually lived in small groups because that is all the available amount of food would allow them. Groups that live as hunter-gatherers are usually intent on keeping the amount of children at a low level.

        If they were living in a very productive environment, say a marsh or tidal flats, those bands might reach into the hundreds. Then there could be multiple bands of similar size. There were areas with a heavy population as in the Pacific Northwest for example because that area had abundant.

        Not to mention the trading, by people everywhere, that has gone on for hundreds of thousands of years often using well established trade routes.

        If the infection were to start with the same symptoms of a cold or flu, a person could easily walk some distance, and most people would not (at first) be that worried or on guard.

      2. Raymond Sim

        Religious pilgrimage? It seems as if sites like Poverty Point are typical of neolithic Eurasia and North America.

        1. JBird4049

          Could be. There are not any writings by the various, ancient people, so who knows?

          It is just known that people have been traveling, or at least in regular, long distance, chain of contacts of hundreds, maybe even thousands of miles with others for a long time. Maybe even with one or more hominid species before H. sapiens. There are always sacred places, and desired or needed, items that people are willing to go to great efforts for. Mecca and Medina are not the first holy places and there were long distance and long trade for items like seashells for decorations and the right materials for tool making.

          There have been great differences between societies in language, culture, religion, etc and even, if you are willing to go back several hundred thousand years, differences in biology; however, whatever is the essential bit that makes humans human has probably also been around longer than that by at least several hundred thousand years earlier than that.

          I do not understand the need of people to assume that the people of the past were different or “inferior” to the people of today. They were not. Certainly not since civilization and writing began at least five thousand years ago. One could make a good argument that we are the ones who are inferior.

  11. Dagnarus

    Israel is stating that roughly 50% of new cases are in fully vaccinated people. This is roughly equal to the proportion of the Israeli population which is vaccinated. This would suggest that the vaccines, at least at this point, have little to no effect on disease transmission, they only prevent severe symptoms. If so the Idea of vaccinating to herd immunity is nonsensical, it cannot even theoretically be done. The rationale for vaccinating is solely so that the vaccinated individual is protected from severe disease.

    This also leads to a somewhat pessimistic outlook, as the decreased disease severity also reduces the evolutionary pressure on covid-19 to decrease lethality over time. We might be in a Marek’s Disease scenario here

    Israel is stating that roughly 50% of new cases are in fully vaccinated people. This is roughly equal to the proportion of the Israeli population which is vaccinated. This would suggest that the vaccines, at least at this point, have little to no effect on disease transmission, they only prevent severe symptoms. If so the Idea of vaccinating to herd immunity is nonsensical, it cannot even theoretically be done. The rationale for vaccinating is solely so that the vaccinated individual is protected from severe disease.

    This also leads to a somewhat pessimistic outlook, as the decreased disease severity also reduces the evolutionary pressure on covid-19 to decrease lethality over time. We might be in a Marek’s Disease scenario here. (The vaccine for Marek’s disease in chicken’s prevents serious disease, but not transmission. Over time this allowed more and more lethal variants of Marek’s disease to spread through vaccinated chickens. After 40 years this has led a disease which used to cause less than 10% mortality to now cause more than 90% mortality in unvaccinated chickens). I won’t be surprised if 10 years from now not getting your yearly vaccine booster shot will be a death sentence. If for any reason you aren’t able to take the shots (anaphylaxis, etc), oh well. At that point promising vaccine candidates which might be able to offer sterilizing immunity will of course have to go through the full 10-20 year vaccine development process.

      1. Mantid

        Good discussion, but two different “answers”. There is no “gloss on what the data tells us”, since neither article has the source data. Surowiecki proposes in a titter feed (no source documents) that here’s only “about” 50 infections in “fully” vaccinated people. The Business Insider quotes Chezy Levy, the director-general of Israel’s health ministry in saying “we are still checking how many vaccinated people have also been infected”. To me the implication is that there are vaccinated people getting the Delta variant (and presumably passing it on). Bad news since extrapolating either of these numbers out to the global population means a successful evolution on the part of the virus. And there are many variants to come. There is no “gloss” on the data since neither article supplies data, other than cursory. We will see what we will see.

      2. IM Doc

        I simply cannot stress this too many times.

        When articles in the media or twitter feeds are only talking in percentage terms, it is very often being severely manipulated. This has unfortunately been a Big Pharma hoodwinking tool for a long long time. It is much easier for our brains to work in the realm of percentage thinking than actual raw numbers.

        Since the beginning of this pandemic, percentage terms have been used by all sides to make very misleading assertions. This is likely no different. Although I am still poring over these articles right now.

        RAW NUMBERS PLEASE – and yet – I am not sure I have seen a raw numbers article or discussion since the very beginning outside of medical/epidemiological/statistical reports. They never exist in the mainstream press.

        I wonder why?

      3. Kevin Carhart

        Surowiecki, huh? Be careful with Surowiecki at the very least.

        That’s by Yves. Mirowski said, “Neoliberalism masquerades as a radically populist philosophy, one that begins with a set of philosophical theses about knowledge and its relationship to society. It seems at first to be a radical leveling philosophy, denigrating expertise and elite pretentions to hard-won knowledge, instead praising the ‘wisdom of crowds.’ The Malcolm Gladwells, Jimmy Waleses, and James Surowieckis of the world are its pied pipers.”

  12. Jim Young

    Normally, catching a cold would not have been of much concern. It is a bit of concern now since two known to me had been vaccinated, though one had only just received the first shot (as soon as they were able to get scheduled for the first dose, the other was fully vaccinated for about 2 weeks before catching a bad cold.

    The first is younger, had been tested for Covid 5 or 6 days prior to the first shot, but came down with what was confirmed as Covid a day to day and a half later (with what I suspect were some hopeful expectations that the very earliest symptoms were a reaction to the shot instead of Covid). Being young, seems to have kept the course of the infection “milder” and quick treatment, once confirmed, helped, but it was still “the worst” they had ever experienced.

    The even younger one was tested the day after the symptoms appeared (two weeks after the second shot), and turned out t just have a bad cold, recovering rather quickly.

    I know all the precautions the second one took, and am confident the first was also as careful as they could be. What was different was the couple of weeks since the restrictions were released and large numbers of people started going maskless (I’m sure just daring anyone to challenge them on whether they had been fully vaccinated), and abandoning almost all other rational precautions that much of the rest of the world takes against even just the common cold.

    Those that ignore the unenforceable precaution to at least wear a mask if they haven’t been vaccinated may think they are fooling someone other than themselves, but they are doing a poor job of fooling mother nature.

    1. curlydan

      I got a cold a couple weeks ago after being fully vaccinated for almost two months. I immediately went for a quick COVID test that came back negative. My cold persisted, even getting a bit worse. So a few days after my antigen test, I went for the PCR test just to be sure. Again and thankfully negative, but anyone who gets a “cold” now (and it appears that colds are fairly common in my region in the Midwest) should get COVID tested in my opinion.

      The COVID testing location in my region, though, is like a ghost town compared to a few months ago.

    2. XXYY

      A point you make caused me to realize this: The CDC’s recent announcement that vaccinated people do not need masks has created social pressure not to wear a mask if you are vaccinated, lest your vaccinated peers think you are among the deplorables who have not been vaccinated. Not wearing a mask has thus become some kind of badge that you are vaccinated. I doubt if the CDC foresaw this effect, or perhaps didn’t care about it.

      (Except it isn’t, of course; anybody can skip wearing a mask.)

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Fuck social pressure. If you want an excuse for wearing a mask, tell them store employees/essential workers have NO way of verifying if you are vaccinated or not, and wearing a mask is a courtesy to lower their anxiety.

        Making it not about you and deflecting the issue of your vaccine status should put all but the most rabid types on tilt.

  13. Paleobotanist


    Please can someone explain to me why a nasal vaccine might give sterilizing immunity? Thank you.

    Also thank you for this interesting article which matches the opinions of my ill spouse’s doctors. We’re both vaccinated in Montreal and still wearing masks outside and hiding at home as much as possible. This pleases the doctors. I unfortunately have to return to in person teaching at a university this fall.

    1. Raymond Sim

      Having neutralizing antibodies in our nasopharyngial mucus is the closest we likely can get to being safe without masking etc. There’s evidence the mRNA vaccines evoke this, even after natural infection has failed to do so.

      If a nasal vaccine were able to do it quickly and reliably, then …

      Well, we’re probably still screwed till we catch up with basic 19th century public health measures, but it would make driving case numbers down much more feasible, and be a real boon to essential workers.

      1. Jason

        There’s evidence the mRNA vaccines evoke this

        There’s evidence they evoke a lot of stuff.

        1. Raymond Sim

          Honest question:

          Is there any evidence of the mRNA vaccines evoking anything the virus doesn’t evoke in spades?

          We can stipulate that the spike protein is indeed cytotoxic, and that the trials were shoddy, leaving way too much room for doubt on a number of questions when the stakes are so high.

    2. GM

      IM vaccines generate IgG antibodies.

      But mucosal immunity is IgA.

      The reason current vaccines stop transmission seems to be that there are infiltrating IgGs in the mucosal membranes.

      It wasn’t at all a given that that would be the case, the reduction of transmission is greater than I personally expected.

      But it is still relying on something very flimsy and fragile.

      And that protection will likely be the first to go as the vaccines fade over time.

      Also, infectious doses matter, and those can vary over several orders of magnitude. If I inject you with half a gram of virus, you are cooked, no matter how potent a vaccine you have taken, it will just not be enough to neutralize it on time.

      But guess what we did by dropping the mask mandates? We almost certainly significantly increased the initial doses that people are getting — when they were wearing masks, even if surgical or cloth, they were catching the virus at lower initial doses than they would have without them.

  14. Grant Hodgson

    A wealthy pseudo public intellectual/economist/wannabe politician/ philanthropist here in NZ was pushing the ‘whackamole’ analogy last year, complete with animated GIF,
    BUT it is a specious and dangerous false analogy, leading to assumptions that any and all public health measures are futile
    It is NOT the case that containing an outbreak in one location or community immediately causes an outbreak somewhere else. Please desist from using an analogy that supports cynicism and non compliance

    1. CoryP

      In the whack-a-mole games I’ve played, the moles appeared and disappeared independent of my whacking. There was no casuality.

      1. Grant Hodgson

        But NOT independent of each others appearance and disappearance- the moles are , underneath the cover, all connected to each other, so whacking one CAUSES another to pop up, is the point I am making. Whereas in NZ each successful containment and Elimination of each community outbreak has NOT then automatically led to a new outbreak somewhere else, we have had then had to wait for a new breach of the border protection measures we have in place- I.e. simple public health measures ( contact tracing, isolation, social distancing, lockdowns, etc) ARE effective in containment and eliminating Covid, ( in fact I would go so far as to say they are the ONLY WAY to eliminate Covid) and that the Vaccines, though a useful tool, are insufficient on their own, and if relied on without the responsible application and adherence to the other public health measures, will inevitably lead, as this article is pointing out, to the escape and spread of more virulent strains and prolong the threat of the pandemic.

  15. Brian (another one they call)

    I do hope that some form of sanity reappears for humanity. It would be better if we listen to doctors not controlled by the cone of silence that has descended upon medical practice. Israel has released info about how many “vaccinated” (a claim by pharma, not demonstrated in reality) people are getting and spreading Covid after having their “vaccine”. Ask yourself why such data doesn’t appear in your news cycle when it seems so important.
    I often wonder how many died from the common cold CV before it mutated itself to enable its survival without killing its host.

    1. NVT

      It has been posited that the common cold began as the 1889-1890 Russian flu that killed over 1 million people out of a population of 1.5 billion.
      Nicholas Christakis’ book Apollo’s Arrow is an entertaining and well-written book on epidemics through history, including the Russian flu and our current pandemic. He has a chapter discussing the Russian flu and its impact.

      1. Larry Y

        More accurately, one of the viruses that causes the “common cold” is thought to be behind the Russian or Asiatic Flu pandemic. Common cold may be cause by rhinoviruses, coronaviruses, and others.

        The suspect coronavirus behind that pandemic, OC43, has been shown to cause breakouts of pneumonia in recent decades. It is also known to infect neurons.

        My relatively uninformed guess of why it becomes less lethal is a form of the hygiene hypothesis. Children get repeated infections to these viruses, and build up partial lifetime protection to them. When the immune system gets compromised, that’s when the infections become deadlier.

      2. IM Doc

        The “common cold” is caused by multiple different viruses in multiple different families – rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, RSV viruses – and coronaviruses. You are referring to coronavirus OC43 – which is indeed almost assuredly the cause of the 1890s pandemic. That is but one of 4 coronaviruses circulating around the world yearly that cause the “cold”. There are multiple dozens of others in the other families.

        Even though they are in completely different families – and have completely different traits – there is one thing linking them all together – there really is no such thing as “herd immunity” – it simply does not exist in viruses that cause these types of illnesses. If there were, we would not have them year after year after year…….Why our citizenry is not being informed ( and even being deceived) of simple facts like this is just beyond me.

        Not all virus families act alike. Herd immunity is a foundational feature of things like measles and smallpox – it is basically a non-actor in respiratory viruses and influenza.

        1. Cuibono

          “Why our citizenry is not being informed ( and even being deceived) of simple facts like this is just beyond me.”
          Likely that it raises too many questions

    2. GM

      I often wonder how many died from the common cold CV before it mutated itself to enable its survival without killing its host.

      Not many, it probably never did such a thing.

      Look at what the genomes of the CCCs code for, and what those of SARS-1, MERS and SARS-2 code for, and you will see why.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This straw mans the GM made and is therefore bad faith argumentation. GM said stated that the common cld likely hadn’t mutated much and asserted it had not killed many (more) pre the mutation that probably didn’t happen.

          As to your point one study and weak tea:

          “Deaths were potentially associated with ENT/HRV in 4 facilities.”

          And does not compare these deaths that maybe came from a rhinovirus to all factor mortality at these facilities.

          1. Cuibono

            Here is another reference

            We describe an outbreak of severe respiratory illness associated with human coronavirus NL63 in a long-term care facility in Louisiana in November 2017. Six of 20 case-patients were hospitalized with pneumonia, and 3 of 20 died. Clinicians should consider human coronavirus NL63 for patients in similar settings with respiratory disease.

            3 of 20 died! A common CV!

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              These were all elderly people. And all you’ve come up with is studies with small numbers individually.

              And they died of pneumonia, which may or may not have caused the cold. Unless the paper says they sequenced the phlegm they coughed up, it’s probable but not proven.

              My mother just got pneumonia from merely being inactive. Bedridden people are at big time risk of contracting pneumonia. When I was recovering from my surgery, HSS gave me a breathing device and wanted me to use it to use it 10X a day to prevent pneumonia.

              Moreover, I can tell you care for the elderly at most of these facilities sucks. There is also the question of neglect or not seeking care quickly enough leading to these deaths.

    3. Cuibono

      People still die of the common cold. Likely much more often then we know. We just dont test for it.

  16. California Bob

    re: “We have historically never had much of success with viruses.”

    Um, anybody had smallpox lately? Polio?

    1. Larry Y

      I think the sentence is referring to anti-viral medication. “Success” has been pretty much limited to treating HIV and curing hepatitis C.

      As far as I know, Tamiflu does work, but needs to be taken very early. Once you’ve figured out it’s the flu vs. a common cold, it’s probably too late.

  17. petal

    Received an email saying that some people on two research floors for medical school researchers (located at the hospital) are trying to have the mask mandate for vaccinated people lifted for those two floors because the mask mandate was lifted on the college campus for those vaccinated. The hospital still has a mask mandate. The elevators for those two floors empty into the regional cancer center. More stuff for the twilight zone list, and another case of people who should know better. I despair.

      1. petal

        Thank you, Jen. Figured as much. sigh. Unreal. Am I the only one that thinks this is a bad idea?

        1. Raymond Sim

          Bad, bad, definitely very bad.

          After I had a stroke a couple weeks spent in the frequent company of neurologists brought my opinion of that profession down quite a bit from its previous naive level, Nowhere near so low as two months worth of this pandemic brought my opinion of virologists however. And they just keep fighting their way lower.

  18. Raymond Sim

    Yves, I haven’t been able to attend to your extremely valuable ‘brain trust’ postings as closely as I would wish, so please forgive me if I’m ignorant of it, but I don’t recall discussion of the astonishingly long time that ‘droplet theory’ has been intellectually bankrupt, (i.e. since before its inception) and the way it has corrupted the understanding of infectious disease.

    The effects have been wide-ranging and profound, producing fundamental misperception and misunderstanding in ways both gross and subtle, in light of which KLG’s description of medical education becomes downright terrifying.

    This Canadian lawyer’s twitter account is a trove of information on the subject:

  19. Cuibono

    The Covid-19 Booster Market Just Keeps Getting Bigger, Moderna’s CEO Says
    A failure to provide additional doses in time as variants spread could mean more deaths and economic damage, CEO Stéphane Bancel says.

    “How has your thinking evolved on booster shots? Do you still think that the booster market is as large as we imagined it was two months ago?
    “Yes. Even larger.
    More than ever, we believe that coronavirus vaccines won’t provide lifelong immunity.
    The big unknown is the variants, of course. The more [the virus] migrates away from what has been coded into the original vaccines, the lower [the vaccine’s] efficacy is going to be. And you have waning immunity over time….”
    “…Immunity is going to wane because of time, and because of variants. So the question is, are we going to be two months too late, or two months too early at boosting? I propose we should rather be too early as long as you have the safety data, two months too early isn’t going to hurt anybody. But two months too late you’re going to have people in hospital and dying, and the economies in lockdown again two months too early, than two months too late.”

  20. Thistlebreath

    Sincere appreciation to this thread and GM in particular. The quality of writing on this site is reliably, enjoyably high.

    After wiped their 2025 projections for “country” statistics, I started to wonder “…who are these guys, anyway?” (apologies to screenwriter William Goldman).

    Turns out, someone else with a penchant for deep dives into sleuthing shows that they are indeed intelligence data providers. Cool and ghoulish, perhaps, like all of that ilk but likely also accurate.

    The data points noted below are far from comforting. The outfit seems to not only be legit but as humorless as an actuary.

    A couple of comments in today’s thread touch on “what’s the macro outcome likely to be?” I hope Deagel’s military hardware bean counters are wrong but I don’t think they are.

  21. allan

    Masks will not be mandatory in NJ schools this September unless districts want them []

    New Jersey school districts will be allowed to determine whether students have to wear masks indoors beginning in September in a move announced by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday, ending a statewide mask mandate for all schools.

    The announcement is a reversal of Murphy’s stance from just last month, when he said that most elementary and middle school students would likely be required to wear masks at least at the beginning of the next academic year when K-12 schools return to full-time, in-person learning.

    That stance led to a large demonstration earlier this month outside the Statehouse by some parents who called for an end to the mask mandate. …

    Sleepwalking to disaster.

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