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do covid vaccines stop covid spread?
the answer is complex and honestly, we may never know.
with this much data, we all want answers. but 1000 reams of bad data are less useful than one well done study and the data quality here is just terrible and getting worse.
as disappointing as this may sound, there are an awful lot of things we may never know around covid and much of what remains of the data cannot support strong claims.
this is a good reason to stop basing draconian policy mandates upon it.
pull up a chair. let’s discuss.
(cat added for brand continuity)
covid vaccines have been shown to suppress symptomatic and severe covid in numerous trials. yet, out in the real world, they do not appear to attenuate spread of reported cases.
this has been repeatedly blamed on “variants” and “unvaccinated spreaders” but such claims are mostly false. the real issue is that there is is a fundamental mismatch in the way “cases” were counted in the vaccine trials and how they are counted by health agencies.
the moderna trial looked like this:
if health agencies counted this way, covid “cases” would be 70-90% lower. using mass PCR testing on a scale never before even imagined in human history to run 1-2 million mostly asymptomatic people a day in the US alone was always madness.
this test was not suited to purpose. it cannot discern live or even complete virus from fragments and non viable “dead” virus, and is being run at amplification levels 60-1000X above the maximum at which viable, replicating virus was ever able to be cultured.
we created an industry in the US testing for covid whose annual revenues were ~8 times the size of quest labs’ entire business. this case mill could only ever produce casedemic. and it’s doing so now.
this spike in cases, among the vaxxed and unvaxxed alike, is not proof the vaccines are failing or that the new variants have evaded them and that vaccine efficacy is degrading. it’s just evidence of definitional variance:
the trials for the mRNA vaxxes only tested symptomatic individuals and counted positive PCR as a “case” only with symptomatic confirm
health agencies count any positive test as a case.
see the mismatch? it’s a completely apples and oranges comparison.
what’s getting called “breakthrough” is mostly an artifact of a ludicrous testing and definitional system. the test is just too sensitive.
we can see very clearly that vaccines had no effect on reported case counts in the US. they were all nice, smooth gompertz curves that were well into seasonal decline before vaccines became a factor and they showed no slope shift from vaccine ramps. all the age cohorts showed the same curves despite different temporal vaccine patterns.
(data from CDC HERE, graphic by longtime gatopal™ @justin_hart)
it’s obvious that rise in vaccination % came well after case drops, did not affect the rate of decline, and that those vaccinating late got the same curve as early.
from this, one might be tempted to conclude that “vaccines do not work” or that “variants are evading them” but neither claim can be substantiated from this data and this is where we need to be careful.
the vaccines never really said they stopped “spread” and the NIH was quite clear about that. it was the politicians and the CDC and folks like fauci that were misleading here.
there is even a credible argument that ramping up vaccines enhanced spread of disease in the short run. danish data showed a doubling of covid risk in health care workers from mRNA vaxxes during the 14 days post shot 1. (this makes the little hump in april above fairly provocative though certainly not dispositive)
a damning case can be cursorily assembled, but my fear is that it is, indeed, overly cursory and fails to take into account a number of key salients.
i suspect the far better claim is this: reported case counts have become a gibberish number.
we’re seeing predictable seasonal spikes that cluster by region and it’s nearly all non-clinical. this is just endemic virus coming into season and being picked up by a testing regimen and reporting system that’s absurdly oversensitive and never made any sense.
top 10 states for ”cases” in july, 2020 vs 2021.
the key test of this hypothesis would be the hospitalization and deaths rates would decouple from cases and drop dramatically from last year.
and they have.
in the US (deaths down 71%, hospitalization down 50%, excess mortality normal)
in israel, (deaths down 80%, hospital down 79%, excess mortality normal)
and in the UK where 3rd wave looks wildly different than 2nd.
this makes it tempting so say that vaccines are working. and maybe they are, but this does not prove it. certainly, there is a case to be made that because asymptomatic spread is so minor vs symptomatic that suppressing symptomatic covid should stop real spread.
but we lack any good data on that, so we’re left making assumptions, and lots of things could account for these drops.
acquired immunity from recovery
depletion of vulnerable cohorts
milder current variants
who knows what else?
likely all are working in conjunction.
and this is where i think we need to really drive home a point: the data quality here is horrible and getting worse. we lack controls. we lack consistency. we even lack stable definitions.
roughly half the “hospitalizations” in the UK are not actually hospitalizations FOR covid.
how much is this pattern replicated in the US? probably quite a lot.
deaths are showing small seasonal rise, but are counted as “death with positive PCR” not “death from actual covid as cause” so the fact that all cause deaths look normal in US, UK, israel casts some real doubt on a “severe covid spike” as opposed to a “spike in the prevalence of trace covid contamination.”
most of you have never tried to design a randomized controlled trial. i have, so let me lay out one key issue that gets missed:
half the battle is getting the cohorts correct. you need them risk balanced, truly randomized, etc. making sure the groups you will study are in good alignment is critical to getting valid output. and NONE of this data is anything like that. those vaccinated are older and sicker. those unvaxxed are more likely to have had covid (why vax if you had it?) and recovery from disease is a far better protector from future infection than vaccination.
you cannot try to draw conclusions from this data like it’s an RCT. everything has seven asterisks on it. this severely limits the high confidence claims that can be made.
at this point, i think the following can be strongly supported:
most western societies including the US are showing strong signs of strong community résistance having been developed
case counts are an increasingly meaningless number and are clinically irrelevant
hospitalization and deaths are being overcounted, but are still mostly way down year on year
this is consistent with but not proof of vaccine efficacy, but vaccine efficacy is nothing like the 90%+ claims
vaccines are clearly more risk than protection for young, healthy cohorts
and vaccinating the recovered is absurd. their resistance already far exceeds vaccines.
this makes both vaccine mandates and vaccine passports ridiculous ideas. vaccines are not stopping the “cases” being used to demand their adoption.
this is a nasty fork for the vax mandaters.
if you want to claim cases are exploding, then you need to use the loose definition of “positive PCR.” but that means that you also have to admit that vaccines are not stopping spread. so, what’s the point of a passport or a vax mandate?
it’s a self defeating logic pattern.
the CDC is already trying to find some way to finesse itself out of this corner by making up ever more scare stories that lack any sound foundation.
it’s this simple: as long as we keep testing and requiring testing at such absurd levels, we’re never going to escape this hamster wheel of covidian medial imperialism.
this testing is the disease, not the cure and vaccinating healthy children for covid is medical malpractice.
the data is now a complete mess, the control groups needed to really assess vaccine efficacy were all polluted, and data is being made up and misused to push the same failed policies in an effort to justify having pushed them in the past.
it’s long past time to stop this.
stop getting tested.
live your life.
the debate has devolved and the arguments now are way past stupid and rancorous.
it’s beyond toxic. the whole of the US public health system and its messaging has become a gangrenous wound and septic to boot. the toxic shock is affecting all of us.
just tune it out. it has nothing to do with science or with you.
cease giving it power over you.
the society you save may be your own.