winter is coming, and the vaccine narrative is about to shift

it was "high season" not "low vaccine" driving the southern surge. and it's starting to invert. the northeast is next.

covid is a highly seasonal disease and that seasonality varies by region. this has been obvious for over a year and i and many others have laid out graph upon graph proving it.

that’s what makes claims like this so wonderfully disingenuous:

she’s just mistaking seasonality for vaccine efficacy.

sweden was not even 10% vaccinated until mid may. but cases dropped 90+% anyhow and deaths basically went to zero because that’s what happens in sweden in the summer. (and why you never hear about them in the news in august)

they are now coming back into covid season and despite a vaccination rate a full 10 points higher than the US, you’re going to see a cases surge. because vaccines do not stop cases.

and we’re seeing the same seasonal flip in the US. let’s look at the top states for cases growth: (data from NYT available HERE and sorted by 14 day % change)

notice anything about the location of these states? yup, ALL are northern.

notice something else? only 3 of 13 are low vaxx vs national average. vaccination percentage is not predictive of case growth. so, let’s stop pretending that vaccines are stopping cases. not even the CDC is claiming that.

but monica wants to talk about hospitalizations. fair enough. again, we see northern states leading the way on 14 day gains as they come into season and the south falls out. and, again, many are above avg in vaccination and vaccination overall does not look predictive. in fact, we see the opposite.

to avoid cherry picking, let’s look at ALL the data.

i sorted states by % vaccinated from high to low. i then compared the results in those states in terms of 14 day % change in daily hospitalizations.

the trend does not look good for monica. the top states by vaccination are showing a rise in hospitalizations. the bottom states are showing a drop.

now this, by itself, does not prove that vaccines cause hospitalizations. clearly, A LOT of this signal is seasonal and there happens to be a N/S vaxx rate divergence.

when run as a scatterplot, we see basically no relationship between vaccination rates and 14 day % change in covid hospitalizations.

(it’s slightly negative, but immaterially)

this relationship is a bit more negative with cases and aligns with the negative VE we saw in the UK among the vaccinated in terms of cases.

but there is a variable where we see strong R2 and that is latitude.

(explaining 25% of outcome with one variable in a system this complex is actually quite strong. doing so using a metric as lossy as “latitude of state capital” which may diverge meaningfully from latitude of population centers and may iffy at best in long N-S states, even more so and so early in the transition period most of all)

this is running rings around vaccination. and it’s a sign of seasonal signal swamping vaxx, which, honestly, looks to be having at best no effect and may well correlate negatively with overall hospitalization. ( i want to play with this some more and better understand why the scatterplot and cohort comparisons diverge so much in terms of seeming outcome linkage)

cause for further concern is that we are early in seasonal transition, and cases are a leading indicator. they show an R2 of 0.36, so the leading indicator is looking more predictive than the lagging one. this would align with expectation for early transition.

but most worrying is that despite vaccination and despite much more real herd immunity from disease recovery AND a milder variant that, while a bit more contagious, is ~2/3 less lethal, we’re seeing higher cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

something is clearly very wrong.

the south and west are dropping in line with seasonal expectation, but the northeast and midwest are rising and are at worse levels than last year by 5X in the NE (most vaccinated part of US) and 2.7X in the MW. testing is about 2X this time last year, so this adjusts down to 2.5X and 1.35X respectively.

and overall hospitalizations are up, not down vs year ago and so are deaths, both by wide margins. (2.5X and 2.7X respectively)

this is not at ALL what one would expect if vaccines were working to stop deaths and hospitalizations (as they seem to be in UK, albeit at closer to 50% VE than the 90’s promised) and with a much lower CFR variant (delta) now predominant. and no, low delta CFR does not look to be a function of vaccines.

i hate to keep landing here and really, truly want to be wrong, but this keeps pulling me back to the “vaccinated superspread hypothesis” which is exactly where we all wish we were not.

“the current surge in covid deaths is caused by the vaccinated.

the covid vaccines are extremely leaky and may well accelerate contracting and carrying covid.

they allow for very high viral loads to go unnoticed and generate a new and severe asymptomatic spread vector to where none existed before.

the high viral loads lead to greater contagion. they may lead to greater severity (but this data is iffy and contested)

vaccine campaigns cause superspread events because vaccination leads to a 2 week window of 40-100% more covid risk that then gets counted as “unvaccinated” because the definitions are bad.

this combination makes those vaccinated with one dose or more into superspread bombs.”

this is still, i want to stress, a hypothesis and one i hope fails to prove out, but i can still find no better fit to this data and it remains, to my great dismay, the best explanation i can find. (and i’ve been bouncing it off an awful lot of people)

proving this out would mean that vaccines have rekindled a fading pandemic, that they are making it worse, not better, and that they and the bigger hammer theory that will emerge from the political mess are going to mean that the northern latitudes are REALLY in for it this winter.

and that’s not a political or epidemiological climate that ANY sane person wants.

i’d much rather get dunked on by monica than dunk on her because that’s a better world to live in, but the data is the data and it does not care how much any of us would like a wubbie and clutching one to keep real live monsters away will harm us, not help us.

so, we keep digging and we keep learning.

again, my thanks to all those who are helping. the truth is in here. somewhere.