Forgive me for doing a cursory job on such an important and sorry set of Covid developments. But I had really intended this to be a holiday week and instead I’m up to my eyeballs in family duties. But the raw facts are so bad that to a fair degree, they speak for themselves.
It’s become painfully evident that the “follow the science” and Biden Administration campaign promise to act as the adults in the room are a sick joke. Policy all politics. Public health long ago left the barn and is now in the next county. Biden threw in the towel on Monday after having promised on the campaign trail to shut down the virus:
In case he doesn’t remember, somebody please tell Biden the United States is not a country in which each state controls its borders and can therefore set up its own separate domestic public health policy solution. https://t.co/dYYfBTol21
— Dan Kervick 🇵🇸🇳🇮🇨🇺🇧🇴 (@DanMKervick) December 27, 2021
While constitutionally, public health is indeed a state and local responsibility, the Feds have the say over interstate commerce, and they also have many other powerful levers they can pull though their bully pulpit, data collection and dissemination, and their ability to fund nationwide programs. We’ve instead had inconsistent, often inaccurate, and actively damaging messaging (“if you are vaccinated, you are protected”; “the vaccinated can stop masking”) but also making things worse by not understanding how poor the CDC’s data is (something the agency has abjectly failed to address) made worse by officials apparently believing their own spin.
The latest is the CDC making horrendous decisions based on its own crap information. The agency admitted that its December 18 estimate, that Omicron represented 73% of all cases, was too high and the point estimate should have been 22.5%.
This CDC bad call, just like its 2020 fail on test kits, has real world implications. IM Doc had been complaining that his hospital could no longer get Regeneron when his patients were clamoring for it. He learned from his mafia that the CDC had believed its 73% Omicron estimate and based on monoclonal antibodies not being effective against Omicron, it wasn’t cost justified. IM Doc is sure some of his patients have Delta and he now can’t treat them properly.
Yet alarmingly, we are also seeing Saint Fauci and Rochelle Walenksy, despite their repeated abject failures, act as they are in running Covid policy, in defiance of Biden and the states. Fauci tried to assert authority over the airline industry during his Sunday talk show rounds by pumping for a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel. This was extremely presumptuous in light of:
The industry lobbying Congress during formal testimony for an end to masking, based on the claim that planes have super duper filtered air (yes, but what about the guy near you coughing or talking and his Covid cooties getting to you before a filter?)
Delta [the airline] petitioning for reducing vaccine quarantines to five days for the fully vaccinated…despite evidence that for Delta [the variant], and even more so for Omicron, the vaccines do little if anything to reduce spread
Many employers retreating from the >100 employee Federal vaccine mandate while it is in legal play, demonstrating they are not on board
The real possibility that the Supreme Court will overturn or restrict the employer mandate, and that could have implications for other Federal vaccine schemes
On Monday, the Administration capitulated to Delta’s request and reduced the recommended quarantine to five days, and Fauci reversed himself on a vaccine mandate for flights.
Even former Administration backers were gobsmacked. From the Financial Times:
Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California, said: “It seems pretty chaotic. You have an announcement yesterday on isolation guidance with no data, no evidence, nothing. And this is from an administration that says it wants to stick to the science.
“Then today, we have the drastic changes to their genomic estimates. The last 24 hours show that the credibility of the agency is lower than it has been at any point during this administration.”
Topol has even more unkind words in The very bad day at the CDC, which I strongly urge you to read in full. He makes clearer than the press does the degree of the CDC’s data failure.
Scientist GM’s take on the quarantine reduction:
So now if you work in, for example, retail or fast food, your boss can force you to come back to work on Day 6, where you will proceed to infect all customers you interact with.
Also, people will die on the job because of this. How is that going to play out in practice?
You test positive, then you go through the flu-like phase of COVID. A lot of people will not at all be in any shape to come back to work on day 6, many are still really sick at that time.
But bigger problem comes later — you have come back to work, you start your shift, then the day-10 rapid deterioration kicks in, at which point you need to be in the hospital ASAP. But you just started your shift and will be fired if you leave so you try to carry on.
One hypothesis about why we no longer see people randomly dropping on the street as was the case early on on in China, Iran, Italy, etc. is that everyone is aware of COVID now and has tested positive before it gets to that point and is thus either in hospital or isolating at tome. While those people randomly dropping dead were the rapid deterioration or heart attack/stroke cases that thought they had the flu at the time nobody was aware of COVID and were thus were freely walking around.
We are about to test that hypothesis now…
P.S. This is straight up premeditated mass murder at this point
It includes HCWs [health care workers], but this is definitely not about them.
They could have been handled with a specific provision.
And that provision could have been temporary.
And it could have been to the effect of “if you test positive, you are assigned to the COVID ward, but you must absolutely not step foot in the oncology department next to the chemo patients”.
This is nothing of the sort — this is a permanent irreversible policy shift for everyone.
So from now on wherever you go to buy anything you have to be aware that the people working there might be on their Day 6…
IM Doc confirmed the management response:
The ERs and urgent cares in the affected areas are being cremated as we speak. The hospital units not so much – at least yet. You should hear some of the horror stories I am hearing from colleagues.
It has indeed now risen to the level of a public health menace.
After years of nurse mis-treatment, on top of COVID burnout, firing tons of staff over vaccine mandates – and now seeing whole units being quarantined – they see the writing on the wall.
The only one of those issues that is readily fixable is changing the quarantine time. Calling in the National Guard is simply not going to do much at all – as they are finding out the hard way right now.
So much for the whole argument that the vaccine people have had – I DO NOT WANT TO GET CARE FROM AN UNVACCINATED HCW – Well now you are going to get care from a HCW who may very well still be contagious.
This is a clusterfuck of obscene proportions. I can scarcely believe what I am seeing.
And if we are to hold Biden to his word – why would anyone listen to the CDC anymore – this is not a federal problem as of his speech today. Why is the CDC even making proclamations like this.
And he confirmed shortly that his hospital’s personnel department had sent out a “celebratory e-mail,” for those coming off the new shortened quarantine to contact their supervisor pronto since there were many open shifts.
Other news tidbits are similarly damming if you have a modicum of the backstory. The Financial Times tells us Biden’s promised 500 million home test kits are yet to materialize:
Last week, the US president announced that the federal government would respond by distributing 500m at-home tests. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Biden said his administration had “a bit of progress” on distributing the test kits.
In fact, the normally Democrat-friendly Vanity Fair broke the story that the Administration had nixed an October proposal of a mass home test program by Christmas. On top of that, Biden hadn’t even signed a contract when he announced his scheme; a Johns Hopkins expert said it would likely be a year before the kits were distributed.
Walensky, like Fauci, is also operating well beyond her authority. She not only fell in line with Fauci on giving in to the airlines on the length of recommended quarantines, but she also appointed herself as arbiter of broad social policies:
You haven't answered the question as to why the CDC guidelines have changed. Walensky's argument "safely continue to keep society functioning" is very nice and convenient for US businesses, but her argument is not supported by scientific data, as the level of exhaled virion 1/
— orion77 (@orion7710) December 28, 2021
Neither Fauci nor Walensky were subject to any democratic approval process. Decisions about non-health impacts are none of her business and should be left to those who are supposed to be in charge. Unfortunately, there appears to be a gaping power vacuum and she’s all too willing to seize ground.
A final issue, which will get only brief treatment, is putative experts and the press are pushing every bit of Omicron hopium they can find, to the degree that they are baldly misrepresenting research….which even if the spin were accurate, should be treated with caution. We still don’t know enough about Omicron to be certain of much save its very high level of transmission and resistance to vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. As Lambert put it:
If you believe in the precautionary principle, then you don’t amplify “emerging data” where the policy implication is to do nothing.
One reader with a medical background sent a link to the hopium in question, a very small South African study where the title of the preprint, Omicron infection enhances neutralizing immunity against the Delta, flat out misrepresents what the data actually says. As GM said:
The PR spin is profoundly misleading and the opposite of what the data says, but unfortunately in this case the scientists themselves are to blame as they are pushing that narrative too.
The data shows little actual cross immunity.
I would not be surprised if Omicron burns through the whole world and then in mid-2022 it all starts again in some part of the world with a new strain….
Here is the first Delta/Omicron cross-neutralization data:
There is some cross-neutralization, but if you look at the unvaccinated subjects, half of them were below the limit of detection at the follow up. Which was two weeks after the initial presentation.
So they were infected with Omicron but are not showing appreciable neutralization against Delta.
Overall, including the vaccinated, titers went up 14.4x against Omicron, but 4.4x against Delta.
Which is touted as great protection against Delta, but it really is not, as titers are going down from there.
This might be enough to push Delta down in the short term, though it will not be a fast displacement into oblivion.
But it will do nothing against future variants a year from now.
And yet what does the abstract of the paper say?
The increase in Delta variant neutralization in individuals 39 infected with Omicron may result in decreased ability of Delta to re-infect those individuals. Along with emerging data indicating that Omicron, at this time in the pandemic, is less pathogenic than Delta, such an outcome may have positive implications in terms of decreasing the Covid-19 burden 42 of severe disease
Which fits well with a very disturbing trend over the last few weeks — most of the top scientists in South Africa have come out in support of the governmental policy of abdicating completely from infection control and have given statements in the spirit of “Omicron is mild and will end the pandemic”.
I have no information of why that is being done, but the suspicions are obvious and natural — this has all the hallmarks of political pressure from on top.
Because those people do/should know better scientifically.
And even if the “mild” narrative were true (the UK’s Imperial College is not on board, and the UK, between having an actual national public health service plus regular surveys of 100,000 people, has some of the best Covid data in the world), that is not necessarily good news. It appears if anything that more are getting symptomatic Omicron than Delta. In particular, note the relatively high level of symptomatic Omicron in children and young adults who have robust immune systems and showed a much lower level of symptomatic cases under Delta…and this with much more of the population, even young adults and teens, vaccinated than before.
The reason for concern is that a new, reasonable size study (n>500) found that 67% of those who had mild to moderate Covid developed long Covid. There’s no reason to think Omicron will be more forgiving.
Yet the CDC keeps digging its hole even deeper:
Hard to believe a public health agency is running a campaign to drive vaccination by scaring people about cost of seeking care. Is CDC unaware of gaps in our healthcare system that already leave many vulnerable Americans excessively exposed to the costs and consequences of Covid? https://t.co/iEmPxYP1uO
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 27, 2021
The Administration can barely keep up its pretense of being in the business of protecting the public. Every man is now on his own, at least in the US.