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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One needs to wonder no more:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t anybody here play this game?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously it needed ACE2+TMPRSS2.

Now it needs just ACE2.

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

Which happen to be the alveoli.

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

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

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

And you have high ACE2 all over the body.

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

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

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

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

People mostly die immediately from #2.

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

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

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

And that is what happened.

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

You have been warned.


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

2 Flogged by a flack at HHS.

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  1. GM

    Note that the “91% reduction in risk of death with Omicron compared to Delta” is not even vaccination matched, in addition to not being controlled for a whole bunch of other variables and having extremely wide confidence intervals (not mentioned at all, just as they were not mentioned when claims were being made back in the days about 100% protection from infection from extremely underpowered datasets)

    And with Delta there is still some protection from infection that is completely gone with Omicron, i.e. the Omicron cases are enriched for vaccinated people

    1. CanChemist

      The “mild” talking point continues to amaze me.

      New SA data show “Omicron only about 25% less intrinsically fatal then Delta”. Good thread at

      There was domestic Ontario data that came out recently that also pegged it as midway between original and Delta.

      “Myth debunking:
      After reading more misleading takes in the media, I’m going to try to explain this again- overall, omicron causes *more* and not less severe disease than delta – even at an individual level for most people. ”

      Also the pivot to “we’re all going to catch it now and iTs MiLd so the pandemic will end!” is also both stunning and false.

      1. Kris Alman

        And you have high ACE2 all over the body.

        Yes! We really need to wrap our heads around the cellular biology of this ubiquitous enzyme, that is a portal for SARS-CO-V 2.

        As an endocrinologist, I have been taking a deep dive into ACE2. In doing so, I think we need to reconsider whether or not a Covid hospitalization is “incidental.” Hospitalized “with” Covid or “because” of Covid? The very co-morbidities associated with poor outcomes are also associated with existing perturbations of the ACE2 receptor enzyme. One could postulate that further perturbations of this enzyme could exacerbate those illnesses without overt lung disease. (The lungs have ACE2 receptors, but in much less abundance than the ileum and the heart.)

        Derangements of immune, nervous and endocrine systems are part and parcel because of where these ACE2 receptors dominate in the body and how downregulation of these receptors after infection leads to pathology. This article is a great review of how important ACE2 is in normal physiology (something that scientists were only beginning to grasp since 2020)–how derangements of the Renin Aldosterone Angiotensin System (RAAS) are so paramount to the pathology of this corona virus.

        COVID-19: angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression and tissue susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection

        Importantly, the spike protein is a key determinant of the virus tissue tropism and host range. SARS-CoV-2 competes with Ang II for ACE2 in terms of internalization. The binding, however, blocks ACE2 activity and thus reduces the enzyme expression in the membrane [14]. This may promote RAAS imbalance. Therefore, ACE2 downregulation promotes ACE/ACE2 imbalance and increases ACE/Ang II/AT1R axis pathological activation, leading to an increase in Ang II-mediated vasoconstriction and a decrease in Ang (1–7)-mediated vasodilation [10].

        Additionally, the kallikrein–kinin system (KKS) is viewed as a natural counterbalance to the RAAS, acting to reduce systemic blood pressure and generation of reactive oxygen species, thus playing a protective role against organ damage in the heart and kidney [15, 16]. The balance between RAAS and KKS affects blood pressure, salt sensitivity, circulating volume, vascular tone, and natriuresis by reducing tubular sodium reabsorption via regulation of the activity of the epithelial sodium channel (ENaC) by bradykinin. Importantly, downregulation of ACE2 following SARS-CoV-2 infection results in an increased bradykinin that can activate the bradykinin (B) 2 receptor to promote vasoconstriction [17]. Dysfunctional RAAS and KSS may ultimately aggravate progression of COVID-19, in particular during cytokine release storm [17].

        A fully vaccinated relative with HTN and cardiovascular disease was admitted with shortness of breath and malignant hypertension on Christmas Eve. He was admitted to the ICU to also rule out an MI. By the time he was discharged two days later, his BP was coming down.

        But they made the decision to add a third drug to his beta blocker and Angiotensin Receptor Blocker–the latter which can be protective in Covid. Unless, one could conjecture, there is overwhelming viremia where the spike protein causes marked perturbation of the RAAS.

        Shockingly, he was not tested for Covid. After discharge, he experienced days of diarrhea. The new medication didn’t seem to make a difference when added to his regimen. Then he developed foot swelling from the new medication (a known side effect). So he stopped it.

        And all is well now.

        Leading me to think that he might have had Covid, which caused both the 220/130 BP on admission, the shortness of breath (slightly lower O2 sat than normal on admission) and subsequent diarrhea.

        The perturbation of the RAAS and ACE2 downregulation could explain all of these signs and symptoms as an atypical presentation of Covid.

        How vaccination status may be protective or not (because the spike of the vaccine is also capable of disrupting the RAAS immediately after the jab) is a completely different question as I don’t see research that looks at long-term ACE2 receptor changes with time after each jab.

      2. eg

        The whole “mild” narrative needs to be burned with fire. It’s the most scurrilous use of the term since Big Tobacco.

        1. parisblues

          Agreed. Every time I hear the words “seasonal flu,” it makes me want to scream.

          And those new “life saving treatments” may not be the panacea the unvaccinated are all hoping for. NBC News reported in late December that Pfizer’s Covid drug Paxolvid can cause “life-threatening interactions with widely used medications….The medications include, but are not limited to: blood thinners; anti-seizure medications; drugs for irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure and high cholesterol; antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications; immunosuppressants; steroids (including inhalers); HIV treatments; and erectile dysfunction medications.”

          Sounds like that covers a whole lot of people.

          And Merck’s molnupiravir is viewed by some researchers as “a potentially dangerous and virus-enhancing drug.”

    2. Tom Stone

      I had to stop reading this and take a short walk to get control of my anger.
      I have lived with the long term damage caused by Western Equine Encephalitis for 60 years and it has affected every aspect of my life.
      The damage from long Covid is much worse and we are condemning many Millions of Americans to vastly diminished and frequently shortened lives because Markets.
      And the MSM is still fawning over Fauci and Walensky.
      The CDC is still discouraging the use of N95 masks after 2 years, these policies are clearly deliberate.
      What are the rewards Fauci, Walensky and their ilk recieving for condemning millions of innocents to death or shortened, immiserated lives?
      Less than a $1 per death.
      Titles,talking heads with perfect hair and perfect teeth kissing their asses on TV.
      That’s it,that’s their price.

      1. Noone from Nowheresville

        I don’t even think it’s markets or the economy. At least how those terms are generally used. The Deciders have moved into an entirely new phase even if all of us haven’t transitioned into it yet or even know what to call it or how to define it.

        I’d add rewritten Killing in the Name lyrics here but I don’t have Wuk’s wit.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Report here from Ireland: There are indications that Omicron peaked last week and hospitalizations have stabilized at a level below the worst fears (i.e. there is still some slack in the system). The peak so far has been right in the middle of the range projected by government science advisors back in November, which may be coincidence or a sign that the models are pretty refined now. There is no sign yet of a post holiday surge – probably because a lot of people cancelled their Christmas parties (including my employer and my family). The main fear now is that the wave is making its way up the age cohort, so older people who avoided it over the holidays may now be vulnerable. In the UK there are disturbing indications that child hospitalizations are increasing rapidly. I’ve not seen any evidence of this yet in Ireland, but age figures aren’t being reported in the same granular way as in the UK. In Ireland, the relatively low hospitalization rates are attributed to the very rapid booster shot roll out – similarly in Portugal. The government here is also trying to reduce the isolation period in defiance of science, but at least they have belatedly decided that everyone should be wearing FFP2 masks (still not giving them out free, despite the fact that many are manufactured here). The Irish equivalent of Fauci is still very much a committed droplet groupie.

    The media is pushing the ‘mild’ meme, but in terms of general effects, this is what most people are experiencing. Anectodally, every case I’ve heard of, directly or indirectly, has been pretty minor in contrast to earlier waves where a few people I know were very sick. I’ve twice heard people say recently that they were sicker after the booster shot.

    I’ve not heard any reports of longer term issues with Omicron, but obviously its far too early yet to know. By the time we do, it will be too late of course.

    1. liam

      Anecdotally, and from plenty of reports, schools, while being back have got religion on ventilation and filtration. Despite the appalling lack of surveillance, and completely contradicting everything public health figures have said about schools, we now know for sure that primary schools formed the largest number of outbreaks pre- omicron. And we also know that when masking was introduced in 9 years and older, cases dropped by a third across the entire primary school cohort, (i.e. from 4 year olds to 12) and in just two weeks*. The anti-maskers out there should think about those numbers for a minute!!

      My biggest fear was sending my kid back to school, and only on the last day did I decide to do so. What swung it was knowing the windows would be open, (even in the cold), and that HEPA filters had been installed. Maybe Orla Hegarty is finally getting through. I also hope the same logic is being applied to workplaces.

      * this was while numbers were rising elsewhere

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, Orla Hegarty has been a fantastic influence. She is fighting a lone battle, but is winning from the ground up. As you say, schools have been mostly listening to her and her supporters, not to the government. It does say a lot about the public health science blob that an architect has been on more solid scientific ground in her arguments. Its like we are back in the 19th Century when municipal engineers were busy eliminating disease throughout the developed world while the medical establishment engaged in often pointless arguments about treatments.

        1. liam

          Agreed about the public health science blob. They’re somewhat quixotic in what they focus on, and look like they’ve been thoroughly cowed. We need more like Orla Hegarty to be honest.

        2. Joe Well

          It’s funny you mentioned 19th century medicine because the droplet dogma is the perfect mirror image of miasma dogma, created in reaction to it, in fact, but equally anti-scientific (because apparently authorities prefer dogma over science in any age).

      2. Zamfir

        Somewhat of a tangent, but its personal bugbear. Try not to use “HEPA filter” as a synonym of “good particle filter”. HEPA is a fairly demanding level of filtering, and for most COVID-related situations it is not so useful.

        For example, for an air circulation system it doesn’t matter if the cleaned flow is 95% cleaned or 99.9% – it will mix with uncleaned air again before you can breath the 99.9% cleaned flow. An 80% filtration rate might even be better: if such a system system circulates 30% more air than a HEPA system would, it creates a better atmosphere.

        I have seen a trend where people expect HEPA, and assume that systems without HEPA are bad. HEPA comes with consequences – the filters are more expensive to replace. Flow resistance is higher, which increases system cost. And it’s more noisy, which means people turn them down to a lower setting – which is much worse than a difference in filtration. Noise is often the real-world limit on mechanical ventilation.

        For example, Ikea sells cheap purifiers that are not quite up to HEPA standard. That’s probably a good choice on their side (more flow for the same money), but I have talked to people who took it as sign that it is a bad product. Then they spend more on smaller “true HEPA” purifier.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thanks for that – I didn’t know Ikea did air filters. As a matter of interest, do you know which ones that they sell are the best? Or do they all filter to the same extent?

          I understand what you are saying about HEPA, the problem is that unless you are an expert its very difficult to judge any device which doesn’t have a formal certification. There are, for example, plenty of masks that aren’t N95 or FFP2 rated, but are pretty good, its just that its impossible without independent testing to be sure of that.

          1. Zamfir

            The Starkvind models still move a fair amount of air at low noise. The smaller Fornuftig is half the flow for half the money, but it’s noisier. As I said, noise is often the practical limit.

            From what I read, 10m3/h/person is on the low side to make a difference, while 100 m3/h/person is on the high side. At that rate, short-range risks probably overwhelm whatever you can still improve at the level of the general room atmosphere.

            The Starkvind does 50 m3/h at the fairly quiet low setting, and up to to 250 M3/h if you accept noise.

            As to the certification: sure, i just wish people would aim at regular EPA instead if HEPA. The lowest EPA level should already capture at least 85% of all relevant sizes, more is just not so useful for a recirculating system. Those IKEA things are at the highest EPA level, thats probably already overkill. HEPA starts above that, that’s just not useful unless the contamination source is in an airtight room and the filter is the only air exit.

        2. Hayek's Heelbiter

          HEPA? Filters? Fuggedaboutit.
          UV-C air sanitizers are the only units that shred aerosolized virions and bacteria.
          Do the research.

        3. none

          The issue is the size of the particles that the filter lets through, rather than “80% clean” vs “90% clean”. Since the air circulates through the filter many times, the filter can take out 80% of the particles of size X on the first pass, and 80% of the remaining ones on the next pass, etc., it can get the air pretty clean if it moves the air fast enough.

          The question is how well the filter does when X is small enough to remove virus. THAT is what HEPA and high-MERV filters do for you: filter fine particles while lower resistance filters leave them in. So you do want them, from what I can tell.

          1. Zamfir

            “high MERV or HEPA” is good. MERV 13 or 14 is probably a good cutof, those have requirements for the sub-micron range.

            Thing is, HEPA is much more demanding than that, and the added benefit is dubious. It’s not good if people learn use HEPA as shorthand for “high Merv or HEPA”, because the result is that people refuse the high-MERV systems

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      Over the holidays I knew of three cases directly related to my circle. In all three instances, the cases were minor and did not require hospitalization. All three were vaxxed and boosted.

      That said, I don’t discount the warnings reported here. Not for a second.

  3. vlade

    Most people just want to go back to how they lived a few years ago. To do that, they will happily ignore anything not-in-their-face. It’s not just CV, it’s the climate change and all TBH, where the simple things (use less stuff!) is not done, because it’s too much of a change compared to wishful thinking (magic up new technology!).

    So, this is not only about the pols themselves IMO.

    1. LawnDart


      IIRC, weren’t persons who willfully transmitted disease, such as HIV, charged and prosecuted on felonies not long ago? This is Amerika– surely we have enough prisons if there is the will!

      But I agree that magical thinking is endemic in the USA population– most won’t acknowledge a reality until they are directly affected in such a way that avoidance or escape of said reality is impossible.

      1. GM

        There is such an element to the story but the better analogy is that what our “elected” leaders are doing to their own population is at the very minimum on the level of Unit 731/Dr. Mengele atrocities.

        Of course if we recall what happened to Unit 731, the US gave them immunity and did not prosecute anyone once the war was over, so what is happening now is quite fitting I guess…

        1. Robert Hahl

          I like the WW 1 analogy better. The world population was being disciplined and reduced to a more manageable mass. They finally quit sending men to the trenches after the Spanish flu had taken over the killing, and sent everybody home instead to spread it around.

              1. The Historian

                For one thing, the Spanish Flu started in the United States and was spread to Europe by American soldiers.
                For another, the war didn’t end because of Spanish Flu.

                1. Robert Hahl

                  I know the Spanish flu started in Kansas. It has nothing to do with my point. Tell me, why did the war end?

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    To a large extent, it was because they were finally running out of soldiers. It was noted that by the end of the war, the only men that you saw in the streets of German cities were very old men or young boys. As well, the Allied blockade was starving German civilians to the point that some were dying of hunger.

                    1. Robert Hahl

                      The effects of Spanish flu on the German Army have been studied but I don’t know what they concluded. The fact that the war ended at the 11th hour of the11th day, etc., and they went on killing each other’s soldiers to the last minute has always suggested to me that the rulers were prolonging the war. Who is to say why they really stopped prolonging it?

                    2. Michaelmas

                      According to the best current research, the Spanish Flu hit the Germans, Austrians, and the Russians before the Allies, and was a primary contributor to their defeat.

                      See —
                      ‘Pandemic Influenza: On Sclerosis in Governance’
                      (from MIT on COVID19)

                      ‘Recent evidence suggests the 1918 influenza was in fact an H1N1 variant… genetically similar to the virus currently spreading throughout avian populations in East and Southeast Asia. The 1918 virus likely originated in avian species, crossed over… through processes of zoonotic transmission, then continued to evolve and mutate within human populations. ‘

                      Equally familiar to NC readers and correspondents like GM, then — as now in 2021 — elites in every country throughout the world did everything to preserve the existing social order (with themselves at the top) by downplaying and ignoring the severity of the pandemic at every stage.

                      ‘The effects of the contagion were historically downplayed by the medical community, who (like the Galenists of old) were acutely embarrassed by their impotence in the face of such an overwhelming epidemic …the tendency of medical officers, army commanders, and federal officials (was) to downplay the role of the influenza epidemic in the Great War….

                      ‘…Prussian authorities went out of their way to downplay the severity of the pandemic during wartime, going so far as to repress the dissemination of data as best they could.’

                      And so on: the article goes into detail on the pandemic’s effects and the social reactions in every effected nation-state, and is well worth a read. The conclusion is where it gets even more interesting ….

                      ‘….influenza had a sclerotic effect on governance within severely affected countries, overwhelming the capacity of the state (and often the society) to deal with the debilitation and mortality generated by the contagion….’

                      ‘…the 1918 influenza had various effects on state capacity in affected polities. One obvious effect was that the morbidity and mortality generated by the influenza pandemic generated profound institutional sclerosis.’

                      ‘the rise of the influenza pandemic temporally coincides with the failure of military effort(s), the collapse of effective governance, and the advent of revolution….’

                      To conclude: essentially, the combination of military defeat (partially triggered by the pandemic) and of the elites of Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and Russia doing their best to preserve their existing social order by downplaying and ignoring the pandemic was precisely what in the end caused the falls of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Russian empires.

                      History rhymes, then as now.

        2. chris

          I mean, we got a lot of useful data from the experiments run by Unit 731! How else would we know how long it takes for parasites like ticks to kill their hosts? Or how you can force rapid evolution of dangerous pathogens? They weren’t war criminals, they were just ahead of their time… :(

          1. Tom Bradford

            If the data that came out of Unit 731 could be used today to save lives or ease suffering would it be ethical or unethical to use it?

        3. Joe Well

          Are you confident our leaders aren’t just stupid?

          When I read the covid denialism of minds I respected like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Stoller, it is hard to accept that they really are as sociopathic as they seem when they talk about letting ‘er rip instead of taking even modest precautions like masks. I hope it is just a massive gap in their understanding on this issue.

          1. ambrit

            Yes, because the other possibility, that the ‘dereliction of duty’ is purposeful and done for eugenicist reasons, would require a massive bottom up revolution, just to protect the masses of the population from the elites.
            The only bright spot in this melancholy mess is to think back to the history of Europe after the Black Death, a Plague outbreak, of the middle 1300’s.

    2. BeliTsari

      Welllll… it’s politicians, LOTEd-in by those who’d been loudy kvetching, coughing & sneezing virons directly into the hekp’s face, MASKLESS? Trying to pretend, what Biden, Walinsky, Fauci, AT&T, WaPo and Comcast told them was true? That specious obsequiousness to authority set them free! We all remember, Trump’s loss, setting off, “Everything’s back to NORMAL!” tsunami, as The Resistance™ turned on RooskiBot BernieBro BLM Commies? It’s a petit bourgeoisie eagerly gavaged comforting little white lies, calming hits of dopamine, sneering obliviousness?

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I think we can see this in the way that hopium ‘experts’ consistently get a bigger platform on the media than those more grounded in reality.

      However, South Korea and Taiwan are good examples of where solid and evidence based communication can succeed in bringing the public along with it, without the need for Chinese style aggressive lockdowns. It helps that they have demonstrably succeeded in saving lives.

    4. Jeremy Grimm

      It is true that “most people just want to go back to how they lived a few years ago” and magical thinking enables them to willingly delude themselves. However, that observation cannot excuse our ‘leaders’ from responsibility for encouraging, feeding, even sharing these delusions. It cannot excuse our ‘leaders’ and Corporate Powers from exploiting and profiting from these delusions. There will be hell to pay.

    5. jrs

      only we aren’t asking people to use less stuff in a pandemic – they may use more stuff with all the disposable masks, but to forgo human contact to a certain extent. But human content unlike excessive consumerism, is an actual human need. So avoiding people for awhile may make sense due to the pandemic situation, but let’s not pretend by moralizing that it isn’t the most basic of human needs. Even if one is hunger striking for the most righteous cause, we don’t pretend food is somehow not a human need and people can live on air instead. No people can go without food for a certain amount of time, but the body will still want food.

      1. vlade

        We could have dealt with the pandemic by doing two things – hard close on borders + hard (really hard, ala China i.e. stay in your place type ) lockdown for 3-4 weeks. It would still leave pockets of the virus around the world (which is why you need the border closure), but most of us could have lived normally by now.

        The lockdown did happen in (much of) Europe in March/April 2020 actually, but the borders didn’t get closed for as long as they needed to be.

        In the US, neither really happened (arguably the borders a bit more than the lockdown) – and especially in the US, I do not believe the pols would be able to get a hard whole-coutry lockdown, even if they wanted to. They would have to use force, and I’m not sure how that would end.

        So people (at least some) were willing to forego the human contact for a while, when they have been scared. Once the danger is not-in-their-face, they are not willing to forego human contact, but they are refusing to do much simpler items, like wearing masks and ventilation. Neither of which impedes massively on basic human needs.

  4. DJG, Reality Czar

    From BillS: That story from Repubblica is just plain bizarre and departs from coverage elsewhere. Today’s LaStampa, which is also part of the Gedi Group and will pick up stories also in Repubblica, doesn’t have it. I note that Bassetti (whom I have never heard of, and I’m reading a lot of articles in the Italian press by immunologists and virologists) is quoted today advocating herd immunity, to be achieved through omicron. Cretino.

    LaStampa’s stable of experts denies herd immunity–regularly–which may be why these stories aren’t being picked up here.


    1. fumo

      It should be noted that La Repubblica is very closely associated with the Democratic Party (PD) and the editorial thrust of the paper is generally congruent with thinking in the PD, which is itself roughly analogous to the US Democratic Party (liberal, centrist, establishment, PMC).

    2. fajensen

      Covid propaganda machine in Italy is shifting gears. Repubblica came out with a headline that the covid numbers are too high and they number of positive test results should no longer be reported

      The same narrative, that “they are figuring it wrong” is also being pushed out in Denmark.

      I have long held the belief that most mainstream “news” really originates from a server farm located 120 meters below a very anonymous cinder block building, somewhere boring in West Virginia, USA. It arrives at Daily Mail et cetera, then about two days later, the swill has been machine translated and presented to danish politicians, then it appears broadly in danish media.

      We are royally fucked!

      1. BillS

        I could not have said it better myself!

        I have also long held the suspicion that covid policy is emanating from some unassuming cinderblock building in or around Langley or Fairfax and being parroted by the EU and member states the day after it becomes policy in the USA.

        This article in La Repubblica struck me because, as fumo stated, it’s the mouthpiece of the ruling Demo(c)rat in Italy.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I thought that I read somewhere that he was also awarded the Josef Mengele Humanitarian Award as well.

  5. none

    Could IM Doc or some other expert explain the exact difference between droplets and aerosols? I had thought from reading the various papers about airborne Covid that the terms weren’t mutually exclusive, but that a virus or other pathogen was considered airborne if the droplets (they are always droplets, not naked virus particles) were smaller than a certain size, which meant they would linger in the air instead of falling to the ground. The controversy was about quantifying the certain size. For historical reasons brilliantly traced in Randall et al’s paper, that size was mistakenly set by the medical establishment at 5 microns when it should have been more like 100 microns. And that meant any droplet of intermediate size (say 20 microns) was mistakenly classified as non-airborne. Airborne and aerosol are synonymous as far as I can tell.

    Further reading:

    * WIRED article about the history of the error
    * Randall at al paper identifying the source of the 5 micron figure (it only applies to tuberculosis and was misapplied to other pathogens)
    * Longer historical article (preprint)

    1. redleg

      Not a perfect analogue, but one that’s relatable:
      Aerosol is fog
      Droplet is mist
      Technically inaccurate but I’m pretty sure everyone has experienced both.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe the difference between droplets and aerosols is a matter of arbitrary definitions, twisted and bent to enable convenient happy talk. What is important is that the Corona virus can spread in the air via droplets and aerosols … and aerosols spreading viable Corona virus particles stay in the air, and spread through shared air through distance and time. This droplets versus aerosols nonsense is a very old red herring.

    3. amused_in_sf

      I view the difference as one of gravity: aerosols stay suspended in the air indefinitely (for some practical measure of “indefinitely”), whereas droplets will sink lower in the air over time and eventually settle. Think smoke vs. water mist.

    4. Durans

      aerosol = stays in the air for a long period of time

      droplet = falls down on surrounding surfaces

      droplet dogma says most/all of the virus only makes it a short distance away and quickly lands on surfaces. This is the idea behind distancing, plexiglass shields, and frequent hand washing.

      aerosol dogma says it mostly lingers in the air for long periods of time, and can quickly fill up and spread around poorly ventilated areas regardless of size. It says high quality masks and ventilation are the keys to reducing spread.

      1. Tom Bradford

        Of the top of my head I would suggest that air temperature, barometric pressure, pollution, thermal currents, density, Brownian Motion and probably many more factors all affect the size at which aerosols can coalesce to become droplets or droplets can split in every unique setting.

        Open a ‘fridge door to see aerosols become droplets. Watch steam from a kettle to see droplets split to become an aerosol.

    5. Mantid

      A great science experiment that I went through as a child. Sit in a room, no windows open, with 1 – 2 people (your parents :-) chain smoking and sit reading for about 2 -3 cigs worth. A well defined cloud of haze develops about 4 – 5 feet high and about 8″ deep. It doesn’t move of no one in the room does. If you wave your arm slowly in one arc, the wave will move through the smoke, slowly yet maintains its integrity. Those are aerosols.

    6. Kris Alman

      Humidity plays a role. See this twitter thread and link to Quantifying environmental mitigation of aerosol viral load in a controlled chamber with participants diagnosed with COVID-19, which was just published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

      Our findings indicate that building operation practices such as ventilation, filtration, and humidification substantially reduce the environmental aerosol viral load, and therefore inhalation dose, and should be prioritized to improve building health and safety.

      1. eg

        I can see where indoor air quality management is going to become the 21st Century equivalent of the Victorian investment in public works water quality management to combat waterborne pathogens like Cholera.

    7. HotFlash

      Apparently the def depends on … ? For instance, I saw a panel discussion video a year or more ago (sorry, cannot find link) in which two or three ‘regular’ immunologists were on the panel along with an occupational health & safety guy. After a few minutes they realized that their defs didn’t match. The ‘regular’ guys were going by a specific particle size, while the occupational safety guy explains, “In our world, a cow in a cyclone is an aerosol.” Also, again link lost in space/time, the official size of an aerosol was traced back (by some poor grad student) to a treatise by some guy who, apparently, pulled the number out of an orifice. Sorry I can’t be of more help re cites, didn’t record the refs and searches are turning up a ton of stuff which is mostly irrelevant. Lot of that going around these days.

  6. Samuel Conner

    Maybe time to start over with the (pig X chimp) backcrossing with chimps agenda. The first effort ended badly.


    So where does this leave us? Known unknown future consequences, a whole new field of medical inquiry, and not much any individual can do about it on a daily basis save near fruitless efforts to avoid getting it? This is more than an administrative failure on the part of the “authorities,” more than feckless politics, irresponsible “science,” and crappy reporting. Someone recently said Covid was a failure of capitalism as we know it. That, or else, it is nature’s way of combating climate crisis. . . .

    1. thoughtful person

      Well, where does this leave us?

      1. There will be more variants soon. What will WHO do after Omega?

      2. Masks and PPE work, as does avoiding crowded closed spaces. Filter and ventilate air.

      3. Long covid is a big unknown.

      4. The Jackpot is coming. No doubt the billionaires have been preparing since The Limits to Growth was published.

      1. HotFlash

        Support immune system, too — vitamin D, zinc, etc. I have heard that prophylactics exist as well, although I can’t get any.

        1. Maritimer

          Yours is the only mention of prophylactics in this thread. Nor do I see much information here about early treatment. And all these studies, analyses and there is rarely, if ever, an answer to this question: what happens with prophylaxis and early treatment. Most studies absolutely ignore these other variables.

          There are many experts online who recommend various forms of prophylaxis and early treatment. Personally, that is the approach I take: use prophylaxis and early treatment if necessary. The recommended Public Health approach of totally ignoring prophylaxis and early treatment, wait ’til you get real sick and then come see us is negligent at the very least.

          See FLCCC for prophylaxis and early treatment recommendations.

  8. lakecabs

    There is no cure for the common cold. It is a virus.

    There is no cure for Covid. It is a virus.

    The only solution is no solution.

    We have to live with it.

      1. BeliTsari

        “Can you hoodwink the SUN?” As a baby, from 1952 Pittsburgh, I’d suggest you try Wikipedia’s actually pretty accurate breakdown of our real experience, with Polio Vaccines? We’ve a set of lethal pandemics convergent, intertwined & only one is caused by a virus catalyst, which elsewhere has caused a few thousand deaths? Now, Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, Rahm’s oncologist Brother will save us from concurrent COVID influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, MIS-C, auto-immune & inflammatory circulatory damage & PASC (a crisis is a terrible thing to waste) by mandating PhARMA’s unseen hand). That which does not kill us, mutates and tries again (and I certainly don’t mean SARS CoV2!) PASC is a GREAT Polio analog, they’re sitting on a GOLD mine! Somebody was reciting PR copy.

    1. ambrit

      Alas, there is “Living with it,” and there is “Officially Approved: LIVING WITH IT!”
      A rational “living with it” program would include masks, tests, “the drug who’s name cannot be spoken aloud,” vit D, Vit C, Zinc, etc. So far, these measures have been actively demonized by the Official Narrative propagandists. Their version of events can more accurately be called “Dying with it.”

      1. ScoFri

        My wife has been seeing good things about Selenium and Omega 3 as well.

        I favor “living with it” over “fighting it”. We know the human body has an ability to live with it, otherwise anyone who caught it would die. We just do not know what it is yet.

        1. KLG

          Good thing we didn’t have to “live” with the other coronavirus outbreaks earlier in this century.
          Mortality Rates
          SARS: ~10%
          MERS: ~35%
          How many evolutionary steps from SARS-CoV-2 to SARS- or MERS-like?

          Selected others
          Smallpox: ~30% (extinct, so far as we know)
          Yellow fever: ~35% (rare but deadly)
          Rift Valley fever (hemorrhagic form): ~50%
          Ebola: 25-90%

          1. ScoFri

            Yes, good thing. ?

            But why should we treat this virus like those when the mortality rate fit SARS2 is 1.4% and getting lower with omicron?

            I can choose to live with this as I do for the flu.

        2. HotFlash

          We know the human body has an ability to live with it, otherwise anyone who caught it would die.

          To paraphrase, Fred Nietzsche, “That which does not kill us may just kill us more slowly.” He did, after all, die of syphilis, eventually. I also draw your attention to the much-neglected Long Covid and offer another paraphrase, “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make stupid.”

        3. lordkoos

          Be careful with seleneium – too much can hurt you. Best to check first to see if your local water contains selenium — if it does you probably do not need to take a supplemental dose.

    2. KLG

      No. It all depends on the virus. Vaccines against smallpox, polio and a host of other viral diseases work as we expect them to work by providing durable immunity against infection and transmission.

      Durable immunity against coronaviruses, adenoviruses, and rhinoviruses, all of which cause the common cold does not result from infection by these viruses. Which doesn’t mean a vaccine cannot be developed. We, as a scientific community, should have been working on such, as well as specific antivirals, since SARS and MERS about 20 years ago. But some other shiny object came along…

      1. Mikel

        They put the nasal treatments on the backburner for the quick fix.
        SHORT TERM THINKING. That BS quarterly thinking….

  9. R

    Omicron has run wild through the primary school population here in the SW UK. Prevalence had been 0.1%-0.2 for much of 2021 but ticked up throughout the autumn term to 1%+ when the schools broke up for Christmas. This is in contrast to secondary school children, who have maintained a prevalence rate of 2-4% throughout the autumn!

    Primary school prevalence then fell steadily to 0.5%. One week back at school and it is 1.5% and climbing, similar to their old cohort. Our two bucked the trend and contracted it on the 27th, fell “ill” on New Year’s Eve (only visible symptoms: so tired they put themselves to bed early but the grandparents credited this to their babysitting technique!). They have been distressingly healthy throughout, especially during the enforced week off school with no childcare from the 3rd. None of the adults in the house contracted it.

    Prevalence has also shot up on the under 5’s. It has been 0.1%-0.2% throughout the pandemic and now it is climbing. I would hypothesise this is because toddlers have very different physiology and immunity (their internal tube diameters, lung volumes, breathing rates are all different, the immune system emphasises different mechanisms etc.) but they have adult-level competence in upper respiratory tract infections. Omicron is now a URT and away they go!

    This – the sheer number of toddlers getting infected – is likely to behind the increase in hospitalisation rather than any intrinsic severity change in the disease in this age group. Also, paediatricians hospitalise toddlers on a precautionary basis – nobody wants to get it wrong – and they have not seen much Covid requiring hospitalisation and (unless the hospitals are in surge mode again) the paediatric beds are protected. I would expect admissions to drop as paediatricians get more comfortable in understanding which presentations are self-limiting and which require oxygen etc.

    1. Anonymous 2

      Thank you so much. As a grandparent, it is very helpful to be informed about these aspects, especially as Granny (and to a lesser extent Grandpa) has care of our granddaughter four days a week.

  10. The Rev Kev

    A long time ago I wrote that after WW1 there was a ‘Broken Generation’ and I wondered if the same might not be true after this Pandemic. I think it safe to assume that this will be so if for no other reason than long-covid. Our political leaders around the world have let the virus rage through their peoples with mostly only minimal support and are now ready to throw their hands up into the air and say that the pandemic is over and that they are done. Everybody is now on their own. It did not have to be this way but after some forty years of neoliberalism, all the governmental bodies that could be expected to help fight against this pandemic have been hollowed out, especially public health. They could not even be bothered trying to protect the children but are forcing them into super spreader-event schools simply so that their parents can still take part in the workforce to keep the economy going. How psychopathic do you have to be to think like that?

    As to what effect it will have on our societies, I really can’t say but you know that it won’t be good. Trust has now been thrown on the funeral pyre and people have been made aware that they and their families are now disposable items that will be sacrificed to keep a mythological ‘economy’ going. But trust is the glue that holds a civil society together and you cannot order it or force it as trust is organic and must be grown. But having this virus continue to rage through our communities while our leaders are insisting that all is normal now is not going to fly. Stuff like that is what let a Trump came to power in the US. And all these breakthrough cases are really underlining the failure of these magical pony vaccines. One person on Twitter noted that ‘I don’t recall hearing about all the hundreds of thousands of breakthrough polio cases, do you?’ The solution is to have a Manhattan Project to develop a sterilizing vaccine but you know that under our system, that the Big Pharma corporations will absolutely refuse to develop one. They have proved in the past that they would rather develop medicines that have to be taken continuously rather than an actual cure.

    Having our elites abandon their people, withdrawing all support, not even measuring such basics as case loads and telling people to ignore it all as this is the ‘new normal’ is going to lead to some serious fracture lines in society simply through the cognitive dissonance. I would say that at this stage that we should be looking to our mental health and I will repeat the advice given by the person that had the observation about polio cases-

    ‘Things that are good for your mental health:
    *Not living under the rule of genocidal psychopaths who are actively working to kill you’

    1. Pate

      *Exercise Check
      *Sleep. Check
      *Meditation. Check
      *Not living under the rule of genocidal psychopaths who are actively working to kill you. Checkmate
      Nice sermon, Rev

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      “The solution [to the Corona flu] is to have a Manhattan Project to develop a sterilizing vaccine but you know that under our system, that the Big Pharma corporations will absolutely refuse to develop one.”
      I am skeptical that it is possible for even a Manhattan Project to develop a sterilizing vaccine for the Corona flu. The human immune systems may not be a match for all threats, and vaccines rely on an immune system response. What is most troubling to me is that the Corona flu was not a truly serious threat to the u.s. Populace except as a result of the u.s. government’s malfeasances and malactions. Even simple, relatively ancient public health practices could have stopped the Corona flu.

      The Corona flu was not a truly serious threat, but I believe there will be serious threats as the global temperatures increase. Viruses and bacteria can evolve and are evolving new methods of attack to bypass mammalian immune systems, and the existing immune systems of plants. The fungi may pose a greater threat as ambient temperatures move toward the temperatures inside our bodies. If homo sapiens were indeed sapient, a much bigger project than the Manhattan Project would be ongoing.

      I am curious … how could we accomplish “*Not living under the rule of genocidal psychopaths who are actively working to kill you” …?

    3. antidlc

      *Not living under the rule of genocidal psychopaths who are actively working to kill you’

      So I’m supposed to kill myself?

  11. Green

    Are there any theories on what is happening in the bodies of those who don’t develop long covid following an infection? Is the immune response so robust that the virus doesn’t have a chance to do any damage? Or is it still happening but at a sub-clinical rate?

  12. ScoFri

    I have read the Great Barrington Declaration and no where in the documentation do they say it is mild or a “winter bug”. The main gist is that morbidity is different in different populations and that we should do everything we can to protect the vulnerable while not wasting resources on those who are not. This would minimize economic and social suffering.

    And I know GM is in research, but what is the evidence for “Then it will probably come back with a vengeance with something even worse than Delta”?

    1. tegnost

      This would minimize economic and thus socialite suffering.

      There, fixed it…
      Just a suggestion, make your economy work for more than the top 10% and see if the other 90% of us start caring whether your economy is suffering. As of now I couldn’t care less if your real estate plummeted in value and the stock market crashed back down too 6,000.

      1. ScoFri

        “socialite suffering”, I do not think that is fair. The lower class took the brunt of the closures and got a few measly checks. It is the 10% and the laptop class who do not care about lockdowns and vaccine mandates. The socialites have not been suffering at all.

        1. tegnost

          The socialites have not been suffering at all.

          My point exactly, and if no one shows up at the amazon/fed ex, ups warehouse to deliver the stuff? What happens when people can’t pay the rent in spite of the supposedly rising wages? The plebes must get back to work or the whole shebang collapses. This is the great fear of those in charge.

          1. ScoFri

            This is not making sense to me. If lockdowns and mandates are hurting the 90% and not the 10% why are you in favor of them?

            And if everything collapses who do you think that hurts more? The 10% will just go to their bunkers.

            1. tegnost

              I don’t see where I mentioned lockdowns or mandates so how do you know what I think on that topic?
              But for the record, lockdowns work but .gov has to give money, mandates for a weak vaccine are ill advised, and for the most part are meant to be divisive

    2. GM

      The evidence it will come back is that it has always come back so far and that we know from its relatives that the antigenic space is vast and the virus has the capacity to endlessly evade existing immunity.

      That it will be worse than Delta is highly likely given that prior to Omicron every variant has been worse than its predecessors, it’s just that Omicron is less bad than Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma, Mu, and Lambda. But it does not derive from any of them, and neither will the next variant derive from Omicron.

      1. ScoFri

        Thanks. Just more questions.

        – is the dominance of Omicron’s R0 crowding out any chance of another variant? This is how it overcame Delta, yeah?

        – What evolutionary pressure would make it more deadly? How does that benefit the survival of the virus?

        – isn’t it a good thing that it did not evolve from the deadlier variants?

        1. GM

          – is the dominance of Omicron’s R0 crowding out any chance of another variant? This is how it overcame Delta, yeah?

          Omicron began cooking in mid-2020, that is the date of the closest sequence in the database. Likely it was a chronic infection (or a cluster of chronic infections given that we have BA.1 and BA.2) that festered for a long time, perhaps in some isolated location, then it exploded. The other hypothesis is that it is the result of reverse zoonosis (but that is unlikely IMO given that we have both BA.1 and BA.2 appearing at the same time).

          So basically all of the previous VOCs appeared after the appearance of Omicron had already been set up.

          Now realize that around that time there had been at most half a billion infections in the world and that now we are well past 3 billion, probably 4. And that there are on the order of 100 million immunocompromised people around the world in which new variants could evolve, and that most of those have been infected by now (the majority of them are due to HIV and live in countries where everyone has been infected).

          That means that in all likelihood the next several major VOCs have already been on their way quite some time before Omicron appeared. We don’t know them yet, but they will appear soon. They will either again trace back to B.1 (or perhaps some A lineage too, there was quite a bit of A in Central and Eastern Africa last year) or they will be second-generation variants deriving most likely from Beta, Delta, Gamma, Alpha, Lambda and Mu (in that order of danger according to my guess). All of those were nastier variants than the original Wuhan virus.

          – What evolutionary pressure would make it more deadly? How does that benefit the survival of the virus?

          The virus does not care at all. That tradeoff only exists for highly lethal viruses and when they kill in such a way that it affects transmission.

          If a virus kills 100% of the infected, and does so quickly, new strains will be selected for lower virulence. But only under those conditions. HIV kills 100%, but is under no such selection because that happens a decade after it has infected you. Ebola kills 70% and in a way that prevents spread, but it is a bat virus, not a human one, and it is an asymptomatic infection for its reservoir species, so it is under no selection to become milder for humans. Also, even in humans one of the main routes of transmissions has actually been from cadavers to healthy people.

          For viruses that don’t kill a lot, there is little selection pressure.

          SARS-2 kills 1% of the infected. If it becomes twice as infectious but starts killing 10% of the infected, that will actually improve its evolutionary fitness and be selected for.

          The reason you constantly see it repeated that viruses become milder is that this fits the goals of the ruling class to abandon all efforts of reduce spread. It has no basis in biological reality and evolutionary logic.

          More specifically in this case, the virus is selected to better spread from human to human. What improves that?

          First, producing more virions. Second, more efficient infection, so that in the limit even a single inhaled particle can launch a productive infection.

          But guess what — all mechanisms that achieve that in the case of SARS-CoV-2 also lead to a virus that is much better at spreading inside the body, not just between humans. Sure, one can argue that the virus “wants” to infect the URT and there is no benefit for it to infect the rest of the body. But the virus does not know what is the URT and what is elsewhere, in the end it comes down to ACE2 receptors and TMPRSS2/Cathepsin-L proteases and those are everywhere in the body. Also, there are very good reasons to suspect that in the Third world we have a significant component of waterborne spread, and thus selection for systemic infection so that a lot of virus is produced in the GI tract, but that is somewhat of a taboo topic for a variety of reasons.

          Omicron is the exception only with respect to destroying alveoli, but it is more infectious otherwise and that means that it should be causing a more serious systemic infection that previous variants. And anecdotal clinical evidence so far supports that idea. It’s just that people don’t die immediately from that so it appears milder because fewer people are choking to death because their lower lungs have been turned into a puree.

          – isn’t it a good thing that it did not evolve from the deadlier variants?

          Not at all.

          That is another thing nobody is telling you because it suits the dominant agenda of downplaying the situation.

          First, many people, me included, were shocked that it came from a mid-2020 strain. As I explained above, that means that we have an unknown, but probably quite large number of similar ticking time bombs waiting to explode all around the world.

          Second, it crossed a very implausibly large valley in the fitness landscape in a single step. There is no guarantee it cannot make analogously large jumps again, but to something much more unpleasant.

          Third, keep in mind that in the ecological niche that humans occupy in the absence of technological civilization there isn’t really space for much more than 10^7 individuals on this planet. But we are around 10^10 now. Bats are nowhere near that numerous — we have a lot of bats in total on this planet because 20% of all mammals are bats, but for any individual species the numbers are nowhere close to those of the human population. And bats are small animals — on the order of 10 grams. Humans are three to four orders of magnitude larger.

          What that means is that no SARS viruses have ever had the chance to replicate to the levels this one is achieving in the human population — we’ve had billions of infections in large-bodied organisms in the span of couple years as opposed to millions of infections of tiny creatures.

          In other words, there has been many orders of magnitude more replication than the usual, which means that there is potential for a great increase in the speed of evolution and that the individually improbable becomes collectively likely.

          These considerations should send chills down the spine of everyone looking rationally at the situation.

          1. CanChemist

            Truth, all of it.

            Since people are determined to be idiots, our only real weapon is scientific advancement, and it’s open question whether that can be done quickly enough on this timescale.

            1. fajensen

              Science and technology are amplifiers … sooo … we risk great advances being made also in the scale of human stupidity, made possible by scientific advancement :p

          2. ScoFri

            Omicron began cooking in mid-2020

            But would it not be a more recent genetic change that occurred in Sept 2021 that caused it to become more infectious? And call it instinctual on my part, I just feel that if omicron was festering in someone for an extended period and kept mutating only to mutate into a less deadly virus I would expect the chances are higher that will happen in the population at large.

            It’s just that people don’t die immediately from that so it appears milder because fewer people are choking to death because their lower lungs have been turned into a puree.

            I do not understand this because others, like Dr. John Campbell continually show how much less harmful Omicron is. And the numbers just keep coming in. How long of a lag of deaths are you expecting?

            These considerations should send chills down the spine of everyone looking rationally at the situation.

            Thank you, I understand this more now. But I still have an instinct that is playing down the fear of all of this. As many ticking time bombs we could have just as many ticking daisies. Right now Omicron dominates and it is considerable less deadly and is SO much more infections I do not see how another variant could evolve quickly in this environment.

            And thanks for your detailed response!

            1. Tom Bradford

              My tuppenyworth is that more contagious+less damaging is the Darwinian drive on any virus.

              It is in the interest of the virus to keep the host alive and active, both as incubator and disseminator. The death of the host counters this. Illness alone can cause the host to become less active and want to ‘hide away’ from contact while obvious ill-health will cause others to avoid it, limiting dissemination.

              Granted the virus does not consciously design itself in this direction but the mechanism is to throw as many mutations at us that its genome allows and see what sticks. And of course the larger the host population to experiment on is, the more mutations will get tried out.

              1. Joe Well

                Did you not read GM’s long comment in which he succinctly debunks this?

                By the way, how do you think that small pox, measles, and HIV are still deadly after all this time on earth?

          3. Jeremy Grimm

            Thank you for your detailed answer to something that has me very worried. I already had chills up and down my spine after I read here at NakedCapitalism about how the Omicron variant spreads to organs throughout our bodies. There is no telling what longer term effects Omicron could wreck upon us. And this statement within your comment, is especially concerning: “That means that in all likelihood the next several major VOCs [Variants of Corona?] have already been on their way quite some time before Omicron appeared. We don’t know them yet, but they will appear soon.”

            This statement within your comment is even more troubling: “Third, keep in mind that in the ecological niche that humans occupy in the absence of technological civilization there isn’t really space for much more than 10^7 individuals on this planet. But we are around 10^10 now.” Many of the supports that enabled the human population to grow as it has are crumbling. All too soon Humankind may be faced with life in the absence of much of the technological civilization that sustained the hockey stick exponential growth of human population since the 1950s. All too soon could mean within my lifetime and almost certainly within the lifetime of my children.

          4. Lupana

            Thank you for the detailed information! You’ve answered a lot of the questions I had. One more question if you have time – Why are we being told that once it becomes endemic then we’re basically out of the woods? Doesn’t that just mean it’s everywhere or does it also imply it will no longer be as deadly? Thank you again!!

            1. GM

              You are being told that in order to deceive you into not resisting against the monstrous crime against humanity that is being committed right now.

              “Endemic” does not mean “benign” in any way.

              It means “widespread”.

              So the transition to “endemic COVID” really means a transition to widespread SARS (we need to retire the term “COVID” and use the proper name because over time it will diverge very far from the specific original virus that the word “COVID” was invented for in order to hide that it is really SARS that we are dealing with).

              Widespread SARS that we are no longer going to be doing anything to stop…

              Malaria is endemic in the tropics. Has it stopped being a problem? No, exactly the opposite, that is somewhat of taboo subject but the neurological damage from malaria is a big reason why wherever you have endemic malaria, you also have very low levels of socioeconomic development (and also the lowest average IQ scores in the world).

              Well, now we will have something that is at least as bad as malaria on a per case basis, does as serious or worse long-term damage, and that people will also catch again and again, but is much more contagious and more difficult to guard against, and with immunity that is even more fleeting.

              The plague was “endemic” in Europe all the way from 1347 until the early 18th century. Yes, it only killed off much of the population of the whole continent during the first wave, but after that every year there was a serious outbreak somewhere, and hardly anyone lived without having to survived several serious plague epidemics in his area. On quite a few occasions those were as bad as the 1347-1351 ones, but they were restricted to one location so they were not the kind of continent-wide cataclysm that remains forever etched into collective memory.

              Smallpox was endemic, cholera was endemic, etc. etc.

              Life with endemic SARS will look like what we have now, but there is a rather high chance that what we have now will actually be in the best of times.

              Because another lie you are being told is that Omicron being so highly contagious and sweeping the globe is directly linked to it being “milder”.

              Not really, the main reasons it is spreading so fast are near-complete immune escape, a shorter generation time, and the dropping of NPIs. Intrinsically it is about as contagious as Delta to somewhat more contagious.

              We can easily imagine a version of the virus that is as deadly as Delta but with the same or stronger level of immune escape. And that would sweep too in the absence of NPIs, perhaps a bit slower, but if you don’t try to stop it, everyone will get infected all the same.

              Remember that selection is now firmly shifting towards escaping prior immunity, Omicron might be the last variant where selection for spread played a major role as the limits of contagiousness are reached (and god help us if they have not been).

              It looks right now like the US will cross 4,000 deaths a day with Omicron, how much higher than that exactly is anyone’s guess (note that you will not see the actual peak it in real time because a third to half of the states no longer report in real time, on purpose and precisely in order to hide the severity of the situation, it will become clear when the backlogs get cleared, which will take all of 2022).

              Now imagine that it was not Omicron, but something as deadly as Delta. We would have been looking at 10-15,000 deaths a day with the current level of infections and immune escape,

              But we also know that SARS-1 was 5-10 times deadlier than SARS-2, and there are obvious evolutionary paths that will take SARS-2 to the same level of severity over time and that will be adaptive.

              The nightmare scenario is that we normalize 4-5-6,000 deaths a day this winter after we normalized 3-4,000 deaths a day last winter.

              Then next winter we take it up a notch to 8-10,000 with one or two deadlier variants.

              And so on until we get to SARS-1 levels of mortality and tens of thousands of dead a day. If you don’t believe that will be tolerated, keep in mind that a huge part of the normalizing of the death toll will be training people to be kind enough to not seek medical help at all and die at home without causing unnecessary trouble for the healthcare system.

              Hopefully we don’t get there, but it is one possible scenario.

              Regardless of changes in severity, endemic SARS means that Europe gets two big waves — one in the Fall (as kids go back to school after the summer) and another after the New Year, after the first one has subsided.

              This is what has happened two and a half years in a row now.

              The US will be getting the same two waves, perhaps merged into a single prolonged one, and also a big summer wave in the South and the Southwest (air conditioning season there). Again, that is what we have seen as a clear pattern for two years in a row now.

              Sounds rather appealing, doesn’t it?

              1. CoryP

                Isn’t the term Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome even less appropriate for omicron?

                I take your point about there being a PR push to give this a new name, but might not COVID be a more appropriate designation due to the different tissue tropism and the multi-system nature of the effects? Especially the longer term ones.

              2. Lupana

                Thank you – I guess?? Oh my God! It’s sort of what I suspected – it just didn’t make sense that it being everywhere would automatically make it milder – it seemed that the virus would just continue to do what it does. I’ve read your other posts where you say there is a way out but honestly looking at the dimwits we have running the country, I don’t see this ending well at all. It’s been very clear from the start that we’re just numbers – they don’t care. Human society is becoming more and more like a giant ant hill …

          5. Ames Gilbert

            This is why, in my opinion, Fauci and his justifications for his 30–year fixation on “gain of function” research are so obviously bogus. Basically, he and others in the field are claiming that by fooling around with viruses in the lab, they can second guess what is coming down the pike and provide an answer in advance.

            This is so obviously impossible that I have to seriously consider the alternative, which is the true purpose of such research is to provide bioweapons for the military. That the actual aim is to brew up some awful artificially enhanced virus, find an antidote, then present both to those enablers and funders of the various U.S. sponsored level 4 labs that are scattered around the world, to use for absolutely nefarious purposes.

            1. ArvidMartensen

              I’m inclined not to dismiss your alternative. The US military would be quite happy to carry out questionable research far from the prying eyes of Congress and the public.
              What do the Chinese get out of this arrangement? I would say knowledge and scientific techniques they might not otherwise have. Useful into the future.
              I personally find it interesting that Omicron which seems to be milder and more contagious, with a shedload of mutations, sprang up fully formed like Athena, without an obvious pathway.
              And the initial AIDS patient in Africa explanation seems a bit like the Wuhan wet market explanation.No evidence but widely disseminated.
              Although I think there is a huge element of snafu in all of this as well. There is rarely a long range plan that goes according to plan, especially when planned by government or the military.

          6. Parker Dooley

            Thanks for your always helpful commentary. Your discussion of the factors contributing to viral “fitness” was most interesting, though highly disconcerting.

            Some items that have been puzzling me:

            What, if anything, is known about the evolution and pathogenicity of the (I believe 4) coronaviruses that are said to cause 15% of “common colds?

            PCR tests apparently detect COVID RNA for lengthy periods after symptoms and viral shedding subside. This has been attributed to “viral debris”. However several articles about mRNA vaccines have emphasized the fragility and short duration of injected naked RNA due to RNAses, and the need for protecting the mRNA with lipid or lipoprotein envelopes to allow it to function. Does the persistence of pcr-detected RNA post symptomatic infection suggest a long-term subversion of cell mechanisms causing prolonged manufacture of viral RNA, perhaps without functional capsid and accessory proteins?

            As I understand the mRNA vaccines, they cause cells (presumably myocytes) to produce whole or epitopes of the spike protein, leading to activation of the humoral branch of the immune system and production of circulating antibodies. How long does cellular production of the antigen last?

            Also, I assume these cells express the spike protein on their surfaces, so are they subject to attack by the cellular immune system (particularly after rechallenge with repeated boosters)? It seems that these cells would appear to the T-cell system as infected, and therefore subject to destruction.

    3. eg

      The “protect the vulnerable” narrative shows an astonishing cluelessness as to who the vulnerable are and where they live. There are too many of them and they live among, and rely upon, the rest of us!

      It’s a neoliberal give up from the get-go — because markets; go die!

  13. allan

    University of Louisville threatens to discipline faculty who don’t teach classes in person [CourierJournal]

    … Citing a directive from Interim President Lori Stewart Gonzalez, Professor David Owens, the interim dean of arts and science, told department chairs Sunday that courses designated as in-person may not be moved online and “violations may result in discipline.”

    He said Gonzalez made it clear there is “no wiggle room” on the policy.

    University spokesman John Karman on Monday affirmed the administration’s stance on in-person classes.

    “Because the science shows that classroom learning is safe and more effective, we feel it is vital to provide the best educational experience possible for our students,” Karman said in a statement. …

    `The science’.

    When someone tells you that they don’t value your life and well being, believe them.

  14. chris

    The biggest disconnect I have observed throughout this strange time is we have all these people saying that COVID isn’t a problem because it only kills people with comorbidities. And even if you take that for granted… we then have all these other experts talking about how a significant number of people who get COVID develop the same comorbidities that kill you if you are infected with COVID. And then we have all these people who discuss how everyone is going to get omicron without any mention if what the effect is if you’ve already had COVID before. And still we see people discuss how we expect people to be infected with SARS2 three, four, five times going forward. But these points are somehow only considered in isolation.

    No one in the US government seems to worry about the logical steps in the chain of events here. There seems to be no reflection on the possible doom loop that people fall into if they have an initial mild/moderate case and then repeat infections. No one is considering how sick our population already is without COVID. I’m sure we’ll have the statistics to talk about this in a few years. But my back of the envelope estimate is we’re consigning somewhere between 3% – 7% of the US to an early death. That’s insane!

    We had an emergency school board meeting yesterday to discuss the recent developments and under what conditions we would discontinue in person school and switch back to virtual. Perhaps the most damning revelation from the meeting was the public school system and the county at large have completely stopped doing any contact tracing. We all kind of knew that but it was hard to hear how thoroughly the system we had has been defeated. Even more alarming were the people who were arguing for shutting down schools also arguing that you couldn’t shut down extra-curricular activities because that would be too hard on kids. And we have parents frustrated that our school system hasn’t figured out a good way for kindergarten and first graders to do virtual school… as if there is a good way to get a child that age to learn to read using a chromebook. These people don’t want a quarantine lockdown, they want sparkling isolation! Further madness.

    I have to wonder if everyone is simply OK with what’s happening because they really do think it won’t hurt them or their families.

  15. Anthony G Stegman

    So what can be done? if most of us will contract the Omicron variant of the virus despite our very best individual efforts to avoid doing so, and many of us who contract the variant will suffer from a variety of Long Covid maladies, the situation seems hopeless. Societies everywhere will be under siege. Can capitalism survive such ongoing disruption? Can the emergence of the Omicron variant become a turning point for our political economy?

    1. CanChemist

      N95s, together with ventilation, Hepa filtration are all effective. I’d say right now you want to keep outrunning it as long as you can, to give medical science a chance to catch up…

  16. jim truti

    Jordan Peterson (canadian famous psychologist) said during an interview that he got information from a policy making canadian government official that public policy during the pandemic was based mainly on public opinion polls rather than science.
    I dont know about the US but this seems to confirm what we are seeing, people are tired with the virus, the economy needs to function so the government starts relaxing the rules.

    Regarding Omicron infection I think we should be humble about how it works.
    Although its anecdotal, and I haven’t gotten it yet, but two couples I know, in the 50s, got it .
    First couple both vaccinated, husband got it, sore throat some inconvenience , 3 to 4 days affair.
    His wife wanted to get it too as she thought would be better than getting the booster, they slept together, kissed, did what all intimate couple do she didnt get it. Always tested negative and no symptoms. And she thinks she never had it before.
    The other couple aren’t vaccinated, the husband got it too, same mild symptoms , 3 to 4 days affair, they had no choice to isolate as they live in a really small place , so lived together without taking any precautions and the wife and their 14 old didn’t get it either. She also thinks she never had the virus before.

  17. Susan the other

    I am very worried about my brother in law. He says he feels godawful. He’s 71 and had Covid early on in 2019 we think. He now has Omicron along with his daughter. Her husband seems to be the spreader; he’s less cautious than the rest of them. There’s always an Achilles’ heel. They are all frightened now. If Omicron spreads as fast as reported it probably means this will run through the entire family circle as they all work for the family business. And yes, they are all vaccinated. So everyone, please be careful. Always mask up.

  18. Glossolalia

    In my very vaccinated and very left-leaning social circle almost everyone I know has had covid in the last few weeks. Interestingly the person who had it worst was only 28 and fully boosted, but even she is pretty much back to normal now. In my mother’s assisted living facility they’re getting about 10 cases a week, so far with no hospitalizations. The prevailing attitude around here seems to be to take reasonable steps to avoid it (masks in stores, etc.) but the days of eschewing all social activity are over.

  19. Phichibe

    Hi all,

    I’ve had ME/CFS since January of 1986 and I’d thought I’d warn any “Oh, it’s just Covid” folks out there that they are playing with fire. According to the British Office of National Statistics, 2% of Britain’s population have reported Long Covid symptoms, and fully 20% of these are still sick over a year after their Covid infections. That .4% of Brits or nearly 300,000 people who’ve been sick for over a year. Scaling to the US, that would be over 1.5 million people. Unless you’re fortunate to have a working spouse or a very generous employer, the result can be destitution, not to mention despair. There was a very poignant oped in the Guardian a few days ago by the widower of a woman who, a year into Long Covid, took her own life. Prior to Covid she’d been a successful TV writer, mother wife. She was 50 and just couldn’t go on, not least because the medical establishment continues to treat those of us with mysterious ailments (when what you’ve got includes ‘syndrome’ in its name, you’re pretty much screwed as far as doctors and insurance companies go

    Two years into my journey with ME/CFS, I was admitted to a doctoral program in Decision Sciences at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. When things were so bad that I went to the Student Health Center at Stanford, I was told I was just depressed due to the recent diagnosis of my late father with terminal brain cancer. When I pointed out the ME/CFS predated this by 2 years, they just shrugged. I guess ME/CFS gives you precognition. The bottom line: I lasted a year.

    Having been aware of these mystery ailments lurking around us since the 1980s, I wasn’t surprised when Long Covid symptoms started being reported. In 5 or 10 years someone will discover the immune system mechanisms being what’s now sometime called post-viral inflammatory disease/syndrome and get the Nobel Prize. The medical establishment will act as though it’s known and accepted this all along. Hopefully some people with the Long Covid will be helped.

    Don’t be cavalier with Covid. There’s more going on than is widely discussed in the MSM and none of it is good. Get vaccinated, wear masks. It’s not that hard.

    1. Antagonist Muscles

      I have a disorder which is so incredibly rare that no medical paper accurately describes what I suffer. Nevertheless, I diligently studied medical literature, and I have been submitting my research in hope I can get accepted to a PhD program.

      One of the most frustrating aspects of my journey is how doctors and scientists have difficulty in confirming the signs of my disorder. Chronic fatigue syndrome and Long Covid are similar in that the technology to reveal the neurphysiological basis of mental fog is insufficient. In my case, I have some mysterious neuropathies that cause mental fog. Unfortunately, it feels like the whole world (medical insurance, unscrupulous doctors, employers, government and disability offices) has accused me of malingering. From their point of view, if there are no measurable signs, then whatever I suffer must be not be real.

      Hundreds of thousands are going to die because of malfeasance at the top of our society (mostly the ultra-wealthy). And those deaths will become a statistic. I weep for the millions more who will be disabled by Long Covid. The powers that be will probably try to ensure this is not a statistic. If it can’t be measured, it must not be real.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I’m so sorry for you suffering with your condition.

        The medical complex is absolutely horrible in dealing with anything that looks like fatigue. Once they rule out anemia, low thyroid, a virus, and now chronic Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome, they tend to become patronizing and dismissive, as if it’s in your head.

        1. Tim

          Recovering Chronic Lyme person here.
          No evidence that the medical community is recognizing chronic Lyme in my area (upstate NY) in my continued experience.

          And I totally agree with the industry ignoring fatigue, patronizing and dismissive.
          Having gone thru the grinder of Lyme, I’m not hopeful for those unfortunate to have LHC.

  20. aleph_0

    The amount of articles about how we should all live with covid (and it’s our fault for getting it) is unreal.

    I feel like I can’t remember a time where all of the media has aligned on one side of the argument since the run-up to the Iraq war. It’s honestly surreal.

    1. Glossolalia

      We’re going to be living with it whether we like it or not. It’s not going away. What’s the alternative to living with it?

      1. fajensen

        “The alternative” is what we are doing now: Pretend that with the proper propaganda everything will be “normal” and just let it rip!

      2. ambrit

        The style of “living with it” one experiences is all important.
        A full “let er rip” lifestyle is guaranteed to shorten your lifespan. The reported numbers concerning “Long Covid” point to a slow moving apocalypse just getting started. As some of the more knowledgable here have said, the intensity of one’s covid infection is tied to the intensity of the initial viral load one was exposed to. So, it is fully logical and therapeutic to lower that initial viral exposure through proper masking, social distancing, proactive precautionaly therapies, etc.
        Add to this the fact that there is no long term immunity under any presently understood medical situation, and it is necessary for the average, non anchorite person to assume that they will suffer multiple cases of Covid infection. Thus, make each subsequent case small so as to limit the cumulative damage done to your body.
        That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

      3. GM

        The alternative is to follow public health protocol the way it is supposed to and get rid of it. As is being done in China,.

        We have the technology to do it. The politicians refuse to implement the solution.

        If people actually understood what it is that they are being told to live with, it would not be physically safe for any of the politicians, corporate CEOs and the various other associated scumbags that are responsible for that to show up in public, especially in the US where everyone is armed. What they are doing is that monstrous, and the institutions of the state have completely lost all legitimacy as a result.

        It is a testament to the power of the propaganda apparatus that most the population either thinks it is in their best interest to have endemic COVID or is just shrugging it off indifferently.

        1. jwillie

          Do you believe that Chinese govt officials are providing honest and accurate data on internal Chinese Covid infections? Do you also believe that Chinese govt officials reporting of internal Chinese economic and financial data is honest and accurate?

          All these Chinese govt officials answer to the same, one-and-only CCP, which routinely executes people for defying it’s wishes. So exactly how is any honest data about China’s covid experience going to exfiltrate China?

          1. GM

            Do you seriously believe that two years into this they would be locking 13M people into their apartments for 3+ weeks without letting them out except for each of the many rounds of mass testing and yet they have massive uncontrolled spread all around the country that they are hiding?

            How much sense does that make?

            Also, do you have any idea what happens to the world if China goes up in flames like India did (and it will be much worse in China because the median age there is 15 years higher)? Those supply chain collapse issues you are seeing around you are still the aftermath of when China shut down two years ago.

      4. chris

        Speaking for myself, it’s not a problem with the likely need to live it with it so much as the way living with it is described by those in power. Living with it currently implies no help from any level of government to deal with a horrible level of disruption and illness in our lives. It’s all our fault if we get COVID. It’s our responsibility to pay for the consequences of getting COVID. There is no need to protect the more vulnerable. There is no need to do anything beyond what we currently have done. We’re expected to stop caring about case numbers and go about our business unless the pandemic makes it difficult to do otherwise. And even then we’re expected to use our own paid leave and not some other funding in the event we get sick. Because it’s our fault, etc.

        We have a lot of options for how we as a society choose to “live with it” – but no one seems to be considering any of them.

  21. marku52

    The mystery to me is why sources I had been relying on for decent info like Drs Been and Campbell have gotten onto the “It’s mild, and once it rips through we will have good immunity”

    This goes against everything I’ve come to understand. There is no long lasting immunity, there is little cross immunity to the next variant (like having a delta case was no protection at all against omicron), and ignoring that every infection is a roll of the dice with Long Covid.

    I just don’t get it, And neither of these has the connections to BIg Pharma that makes other’s advice totally suspect. I don’t get it.
    Am I crazy, or are they?

    1. CanChemist

      At best, wishful thinking… at worst, they are aligned with power or politics that wish to push that message for reasons of profit / self-interest.

  22. fool's idol

    Long COVID is no joke, and “mild omicron”, like “pandemic of the unvaccinated”, is an intensely stupid take for public health authorities to be pushing.


    It’s still important to get details right, and to support serious claims when you make them.

    As I pointed out when someone linked to the Caruso et al opinion article yesterday, it does not contain any new data or analysis, or even a case report, of any person who has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a result of COVID. It speculates, based on prior studies on different viral infections, whose interpretation is not open-and-shut, that it may be possible for such a thing to occur.

    And you say “oncologists are reporting an increase in cancers, including formerly uncommon cancers, beyond what can be explained by pent up demand due to interruptions in access to doctors and treatment facilities.” Can you provide a source for this claim? I have not been able to find one myself. The closest I have been able to find is this Scientific American summary (, which cites several studies published in 2021, that says almost nearly the opposite of what you claim.

  23. Jen

    I’ve noticed a pattern of conversation among my co-workers. Among the upper levels of the administratium, my colleagues seem to be of the “we’re all going to get it, it’s not a big deal mindset.” One of my coworkers recently completed his 2nd round of Covid and is getting on a plane tomorrow for a quick weekend getaway. A second recently came back from a trip and still dines out twice per week. A third is less complacent about her own personal safety but laments that nothing can be done.

    Among those of less lofty stature, I hear a lot of fear, a lot of desire to avoid this thing at all costs. I have a weekly meeting with one team that is now approximately 50% work and 50% covid group therapy and sharing tips. One of the participants got covid right before the holidays, and after watching her neighbor get hospitalized with it for 7 days, was absolutely terrified. She’s fine, thankfully. I feel like checking in with eachother is the most important thing that we do on the call.

    And because we live where we do I learned from them that the owner of the general store in town died from covid a couple of weeks ago. This place has always been on my no-go list during periods of high transmission because the owner and most of the staff never masked up. But the owner was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve this.

  24. Reader_In_Cali

    Random question for NC’s COVID braintrust, from a non-scientist/medicine person: Could it be possible that variants are more likely to originate in sub-Saharan African populations partially due to the generally low levels of Vitamin D in darker skinned people? This came to me as a question after reading the lengthy above comment from GM, and remembering that there seems to be a causal link between higher likelihoods of infection and disease severity and low Vitamin D levels/absorption (I think). I could be super off base here, but just wondering.

  25. Telee

    What ever happened to the emphasis on flattening the curve?

    Also, it is now revealed that last winter in conference some of the most imminent virologists could not see how the virus could have evolved in nature. It has the identical genetic structure of a bat virus with the exception of 12 nucleotides that allowed it to infect humans. Their opinion was that the bat virus was problem recycled many times through tissue cultures of human cells. Of course Fauci and Collins wanted to suppress this view and were aided by our corporate press. So enhanced function research led to a lab leak. We most likely have a manmade pandemic. And discussions on the efficacy of gain of function research ( championed by Fauci ) have been suppressed.

    1. GM

      What ever happened to the emphasis on flattening the curve?

      It has been achieved — against the Y-axis…

  26. david anthony

    Dr Anthony J Leonardi is a T-Cell Immunologist at John Hopkins. He has been screaming since summer 2020 that COVID wipes out T cells. People are finally starting to come around but the damage that has been done so far….He’s on Twitter and discusses it often – @fitterhappierAJ

  27. Irrational

    Thanks for the post and all the excellent comments, which I have finally managed to digest.
    The ” mild” narrative is making the rounds in Europe, too, but I will still be trying hard to outrun this virus for all long as possible (to quote Can Chemist above) because of long COVID.
    My personal concern is one that I have not seen figure in research so far: I have an existing (easily treatable and relatively benign) autoimmune disease, but supposedly one autoimmune disease predisposes you for more. Since it appears that COVID can also often put your immune system into overdrive, my thought is that an infection could have particularly bad side effects in such a case and prompt such additional autoimmune diseases – or it could be that I am able to put down the infection super-effectively as seems to be the case with most colds, flus etc.
    But I am not about to find out – masking, limiting contacts, vitamin D, zinc and continuing to eat well are all on my list.

  28. Mucho

    Thanks for putting the risk in such stark terms. Here in the Netherlands, the government seems to actively steer on ‘mild’ infections. Long-term consequences and strategies/scenario’s are not really considered. Long-covid is mentioned in media, but is not presented as a policy question (or failing) of government.

    When I try to bring this risk up among friends and colleagues, most of them shrug and answer that ‘you can’t control everything and that people want to live their life’. When pushed, people will concede that this unknown risk is scary, but that we just have to hope that it will not be bad. People who had corona and didn’t really suffer any long term effects mostly shrug for a second time.

    I have to admit that I have never in my life felt so depressed at the response of my government and countrymen. In previous waves I did not overly worry, because I could protect myself reasonably well. Two years in the pandemic, my partner is forced to work at the office and is not concerned (that much) with catching covid anymore. At my job – I work as a policy advisor for union – their seems to be no real movement to fight the government on strategy (seeing this as a risk for an already battered union).

    For the sake of my sanity, I feel that acceptance is the best option. But also feel that this is giving up and that it is important for those of us who can to fight back. I feel though, that I’m not doing this very effectively. I do know that this blog helps me maintain my spirit, and for that I’m grateful.

  29. Mucho

    I typed a long comment that somehow got lost expressing – in short – my anguish about the situation many of us are in. Living in the Netherlands, I see a government that persists in a failing strategy (‘mild infections are good, steering at IC-capacity, vaccination/herd immunity is the way out of this crisis) with no concern and plan for long-term consequences Covid.

    In addition, I have reached a point in my personal situation where I am exposed (through my partner, who can’t work from home) to the risk of catching Covid in a much bigger way than the previous two years. At my work – I work as a legal & policy advisor at a union – leadership is either unquestioning with regard to the strategy outlined above or to scared to contradict the biomedical experts backing such a strategy (‘we are not virologists’).

    Some days I feel that acceptance will let me keep my sanity, but I also feel that it is important to keep fighting. I do feel that I’m not doing this very efficiently (living in a country of windmills, the joke kind of makes itself I guess). How do we do this?

    What I do know: the information, analysis and jokes that constitute this blog help me retain my sanity and keep my going. Cannot express how grateful I am for that.

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