a funny thing happened on the way to herd immunity
the most vaccinated and boosted groups became the ones heading to the hospital
i took a quick spin through some northeast data. what’s going on there looks odd.
firstly, there is a significant and out of season rise in covid hospitalizations. but what’s odder is what’s driving it: it’s all the most vaxxed.
i grabbed NY, CT, MA, RI because they are contiguous, share a climate zone, and all have 95% vaxx rates in the over 65 cohort. they also seem to be the states at the epicenter of the current hotspot and are not yet tinkering with the definition of “hospitalized” unlike places like NH.
as can be seen from NY, the 70+ group is seeing a 61% rise in hospital admissions in 70+ vs a month ago.
no other group is seeing a rise remotely like that (though 50-59 was up significantly)
we see similar in CT, but with an even stronger signal.
70+ is up 44%, 60-9 is up slightly, and every other group is flat or down.
in the nutmeg state, this issue is confined exclusively to the old.
MA looks much the same:
70+ is up 51% and every other group is flat or down apart from 30-49 which rose by 0.1 which is not material.
RI too is seeing a big surge in over 70’s and a significant one in 60-69, but really nowhere else.
so, something odd is going on here and it seems to be an issue of the old but not the young.
zooming out to larger scale:
hospital data is messy, this could be nosocomial or otherwise irrelevant or just a function of the old being unable to avoid trace infection with ba.2. the numbers are not yet worryingly high, but the curve shapes are cause for some concern if they persist in gompertz patterns, esp in RI where 70+ is going near vertical:
this is unexpected in states with such high covid rates to date. you’d expect acquired immunity and cohort depletion to be providing a bulwark, especially so out of season. this leads me to suspect we’re looking for an odd culprit here, something new that is having large effect.
unfortunately, this could easily be BA.2 being a highly vaccine and booster advantaged variant that is using OAS to great effect upon the jabbed.
we’re seeing signs in the UK.
it’s early here to make much in the way of strong calls, but it’s an issue to keep an eye on.
this trend is not yet showing up in deaths in the US northeast, but does seem to be doing so in the UK who looks to be a bit ahead of us on BA.2 (and on vaxx rate). (OTOH, this seems like an oddly localized issue limited to the UK right now and not prevalent in the rest of europe, so i’m not quite sure to what to attribute this just now)
if we have antigenically fixated large groups, the US data is likely keep getting worse in the old whose generalized immune responses are least potent and will be most visibly affected by being locked into sub-optimal or outright infective antibody response.
i fear we’re about to start seeing a nasty test of this hypothesis.
if it proves out, it won’t be subtle, though the US data is a mess and is both incomplete and adulterated in many cases, so it’s not my dream region to attempt epidemiological sleuth work.
will do the best i can with what we have.
also, if anyone has any idea how to get this NYT data in csv or xls form, please let me know. i’d love to play with it a bit more.