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i see we have entered the "ninja level fear porn" stage of the pandemic
apparently, "omicron" is no longer scary enough
this whole daily beast article is hilarious both for what it says and does not say.
apparently, BA.5 is just not a scary enough name.
this is the fear-porn industrial complex jumping the shark and imploding on itself. the whole “ninja” notion is so hilarious it’s hard to take seriously, but what i do think we need to take a serious look at are some of the claims being made here. because they are disastrously wrong.
The BA.5 subvariant of the basic Omicron variant appears to be more contagious than any previous form of the virus. It’s apparently better at dodging our antibodies, too—meaning it might be more likely to cause breakthrough and repeat infections.
i’m not seeing evidence that this is terribly true outside of the vaccinated. it’s not at all clear that BA.5 is inherently more contagious, more “ninja,” or more dangerous than early omi, itself a very mild variant vs delta or alpha.
it’s just increasingly vaccine advantaged because we antigenically fixated the herd with a leaky vaccine that trained intensely for narrow, non-sterilizing immunity. of course the virus did this. it’s the evolutionary gradient such a vaccine creates. no other outcomes was possible or plausible.
so yes, of course people are getting infected again and again. that’s what antigenic fixation does. it turns your immune system into a one trick pony unable to adapt to changing pathogens.
antigenic fixation/hoskins effect/OAS is a simple evolutionary process driven by strong immune imprinting such as that from narrow vector leaky vaccines.
you learn one response and use it preferentially to learning others.
we’ve never seen this at herd level/society scale like this before where so many all got the same non-sterilizing fixation. (sterilizing refers to prevention of contracting, carrying, and spreading virus)
this has created an unprecedented viral lab and evo-pressure and it’s going to work like this:
and once you are fixated, new adaptive responses are not learned. that means that this is 100% wrong:
Vaccines and boosters are still the best defense. There are even Omicron-specific booster jabs in development that, in coming months, could make the best vaccines more effective against BA.5 and its genetic cousins.
we already know it doesn’t work. if live virus cannot overcome the antigenic fixation, neither can a vaccine, especially as it’s going to be based on variant strains that are well out of date by the time it’s released and just fixate patients further and drive further viral evo to take advantage of it.
we already know that variant specific boosters don’t work. they tried them. it did not elicit novel response. (mRNA vaxx also inhibits learning to produce n-antibodies, a key source of sterilizing immunity.)
these new “variant boosters” are just marketing hype. they’re going to be approved without clinical trials based on being “known to be safe” and “eliciting biomarker response.” the FDA has already said so. they’re just going to see if the boosters generate some predetermined antibody response. of course they will. but what we do no know is:
do those antibodies have any effect on current covid strains?
do they provide any sort of sterilizing immunity? (doubtful as others have not)
and if not, are they just going to drive more and deeper OAS/ADE? (likely because that’s what leaky vaccines do)
adding to this mess is the issue that boosters seem to be eliciting greater adverse event response than the original 2 dose course. (and this is not going to be assessed before these are approved. it’s been removed from the trial protocols.)
High levels of at least partial immunity from vaccines and past infection continue to prevent the worst outcomes—mass hospitalization and death. But globally, raw case numbers are surging, with serious implications for potentially millions of people who face a growing risk of long-term illness.
Equally worrying, the latest wave of infections is giving the coronavirus the time and space it needs to mutate into even more dangerous variants and subvariants. “The development of variants now is a freight train,” Irwin Redlener, the founding director of Columbia University’s National Center for Disaster Preparedness, told The Daily Beast.
In other words, unstoppable.
this is indeed precisely the case, but it’s vaccines and boosters causing it. it was becoming incredibly obvious in the UK data that the boosted were getting covid at several multiples the rate of the unvaxxed.
and the extent of that greater susceptibility was accelerating when they stopped publishing this data. we had not even seen BA.5 yet. just based on simple evolutionary pressure from OAS one would expect this ratio to move even higher.
this is leading to some really dire math.
i suspect vaccines, at least at one point, provided some reduction in death risk perhaps on the order of 50% (at least before counting side effects). but if you quadruple cases, that’s still twice the deaths overall (and we have no idea if VE(death) has been sustained.
fortunately, omi is MUCH milder than prior strains. this idea that it’s “the most dangerous yet” appears a complete fabrication, at least for those not antigenically fixated. how this will play out in terms of virulence in immunity compromised folks is anyone’s guess.
but this is stunningly disingenuous:
BA.5’s widespread mutations made the subvariant less recognizable to all those antibodies we’ve built up from vaccines, boosters and past infection. BA.5 has been able to slip past our immune systems, ninja-style, contributing to the rising rate of breakthrough cases and reinfections.
This comes as no surprise to epidemiologists who’ve warned for many months now that persistently high case-rates—which they largely attribute in part to a stubborn anti-vax minority in many countries—would facilitate ever more infectious and evasive variants and subvariant. The more infections, the more chances for significant mutations.
this variant was selected for and preys upon the vaxxed and boosted. they are the ones getting it, spreading it, and suffering from it. it has become highly clear in nearly every sound data series.
US over 70’s are near 100% vaxxed and highly boosted. yet their hospital rate is more than double (+130%) year on year despite an objectively milder variant. we’re already approaching the summer highs from last year despite being 6-7 weeks away from a likely peak. my money is on “we exceed it significantly.”
it looks more and more like any protection from severe outcomes that vaccines may have provided has either attenuated or is being swamped by the rise in prevalence. per JH, testing is flat in the US vs this period a year ago. but cases are 5.6X what they were this time last year, a number that starts to looks an awful lot like the sort of over expression figures one could extrapolate from the risk ratio graph above if BA.5 etc continues the trend to be more OAS optimized vs prior strains.
it also finds unfortunate alignment with this “swamping” prediction based on county level UK data.
so, sorry beast, but it’s not the “unvaxxed” doing this. this is the predictable and inevitable outcome of generating herd level antigenic fixation with narrow, leaky vaccines. this is WHY we do not use them.
and there is no obvious climb down that i see. once you have created this “freight train” you have to ride it to the end. variant boosters look unlikely to have any extra positive effect. that’s how fixation works. it’s great marketing, but it seems to be bad science. this is not so much a super sneaky variant as it is a “concussed watchman with his shoelaces tied together that you could walk a brass band in front of.”
one need not be “ninja” to take advantage of such…