I watched the latest Boris Johnson Omicron speech with amazement. While I never hated Boris personally, the stupidity of this speech while on the precipice of a real life nightmare, can be understood but cannot be understated.
Boris looked scared and desperate. With much drama, he said that we are facing a “tidal wave of Omicron”. This is absolutely correct, because Omicron is as contagious as chickenpox and may be as deadly or deadlier than Delta. In addition, as Denmark’s data shows, Omicron actually prefers and seeks out vaccinated people, raising concerns of ADE (see below).
Something this contagious and even moderately deadly will actually overwhelm hospitals for real (and not like the media is claiming is currently happening). When that occurs, mortality will probably jump at least 2x above the baseline, because the sick will not be getting hospital care. There is little hope that proper early treatments will be made available in time, despite their low cost. So yes, things look bad for Boris.
He also said that there are people hospitalized in the UK already.
Boris then said, correctly, that Omicron doubles every two to three days. For you, my dear reader, it means that you can model this outbreak easily by multiplying this week’s data by about 10, to figure out what next week’s numbers will be. For example, the UK had 3,137 cases as of today, so next Sunday, we can expect there to be about 30,000 cases, and a week after that, roughly 300,000 cases. So in two weeks, at around Christmas, we could have 300,000 total cases and 120,000 daily cases or so. This exponential behavior applies to the beginning of the epidemic curve, which will of course eventually flatten, but unlikely any time soon.
So up to 0:35 seconds in his speech, he was totally right. Then Boris said something amazing: “And I am afraid that it is now clear that two doses of vaccine is simply not enough to give the level of protection”. Well, duh, not only it is not enough, the vaccinated are getting preferentially infected!
Then he said what really is total nonsense: “our scientists are confident that with the third dose, the booster dose, we can bring our level of protection back up”. Really? So, if something makes things worse, more of it will make things better?
All of this “confidence of scientists” is based on one, small, in-vitro study by a very fine scientist Alex Segal, and self serving statements by Pfizer and Moderna. I do not doubt that Alex Segal is an outstanding researcher, but what his study really found is that effectiveness of Wuhan based antibodies against Omicron is decreased by 41 times. Alex actually wrote that
“Prior infection, followed by vaccination or booster is likely to increase the neutralization level and potentially confer protection against severe disease in omicron infection.”
This is just a possibility mentioned by Alex Segal that involves possibly vaccinating the previously infected — not boosting the previously vaccinated.
Somehow this got rewritten into “scientists are confident that boosters will work”. But in real life, boosted people get infected by Omicron as if they were totally naive to this variant, or even with higher likelihood, for example 11 of 12 people infected in one specific outbreak being boosted. Also this:
Then Boris says that everyone needs to get boosters and that “Omicron may be severe”. Then he said that it is no longer enough to give a booster by the end of January, but he will “bring that forward by a month”, so Boris wants to boost all Brits by the end of December.
This decision is possibly the worst mistake throughout the entire British pandemic. It will put gasoline on fire. We will explore this below.
Negative Effectiveness of Boosters
The main problem is that vaccinees, after a shot, have a several week period when they are uniquely vulnerable to infection. This is the reason why the “fully vaccinated” status is given two weeks after the second or third vaccine dose.
Conveniently, infections during first two weeks post-dose are not counted as infections in “fully vaccinated” by health authorities, as if the vaccine should be “forgiven” for making its recipients uniquely prone to infection within the first two weeks. Since these recent vaccinees are not considered “fully vaccinated”, their infections and deaths are, bizarrely, NOT counted against vaccine effectiveness. This was extensively discussed.
So, a booster dose has an initial period when the risk of infection increases compared to the baseline. This blog post by bartram shows that for AstraZeneca and Pfizer boosted, effectiveness is NEGATIVE 60%, meaning the boosted person is 60% MORE LIKELY to get infected than if he or she did not get a booster at all. See also UKHSA Bulletin 31 and figure 7:
The graph A looks so horrible that I suspect that it has some sort of a mistake. Terrible NEGATIVE effectiveness for 10 weeks? Is that days or weeks? This raises ADE concerns (see below)
Even with Pfizer being boosted by Pfizer, effectiveness of this — under the most charitable assumptions of UKHSA — is almost instantly dropping and amounts to meager 30% for weeks 15-25. However, the disease course is likely to be worse due to immediate immune system damage from the mRNA vaccine and destruction of innate immunity.
Applications of boosters during periods of explosive growth of Omicron is likely to make people more prone to infection, and supercharge this growth, as opposed to slowing it.
In addition, boosting an enormous number of people in three weeks, often close to their primary series, will trigger very many “adverse events” and will further clog the hospitals at the worst possible time.
So: Boosting the UK during Omicron wave is like pouring gasoline on fire.
It is also possible that positive short term effectiveness from application of booster shots, is there due to general agitation of the immune system and immediate general antiviral response. This is similar to not catching a another cold or flu for a few weeks after having a cold. The boosters most likely do not create specific antibody-based immunity to Omicron.
In addition, the UK already cut the booster interval in half, with the reason being that boosters do not really work long term, but they cannot admit it — another proof that boosters will be useless.
Thus, my expectation is that this hysterical and spasmodic boosting will make the UK situation worse, and possibly much worse, and will fuel this pandemic rather than help.
This situation may be described as “SHTF”, the “S” being Omicron and the “fan” being boosters.
Does Omicron Cause Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE)?
Antibody Dependent Enhancement is a frequently encountered problem when developing vaccines. It describes a situation when antibodies developed for a particular antigen (for example, for Wuhan virus spike), when encountering a different virus (for example, Omicron), do not neutralize the virus but instead aid in its infection.
ADE happened when scientists were developing vaccines for RSV and measles, for example.
On a few occasions ADE has resulted from vaccination:
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — RSV is a virus that commonly causes pneumonia in children. A vaccine was made by growing RSV, purifying it, and inactivating it with the chemical formaldehyde. In clinical trials, children who were given the vaccine were more likely to develop or die from pneumonia after infection with RSV. As a result of this finding, the vaccine trials stopped, and the vaccine was never submitted for approval or released to the public.
Measles — An early version of measles vaccine was made by inactivating measles virus using formaldehyde. Children who were vaccinated and later became infected with measles in the community developed high fevers, unusual rash, and an atypical form of pneumonia. Upon seeing these results, the vaccine was withdrawn from use, and those who received this version of the vaccine were recommended to be vaccinated again using the live, weakened measles vaccine, which does not cause ADE and is still in use today.
The three epidemiological signs of ADE are:
Preferential infection of the vaccinees, compared to the unvaccinated. We definitely see this with Omicron. I discussed this in my previous article.
Worse outcomes in the vaccinated, compared to the unvaccinated. We do NOT yet have any data about that. We might not get this data for a while as it should lead to instant firing of all vaccinators, which they obviously do not want. So if this occurs, this information will be suppressed for a while.
Specific symptoms in the vaccinated, that the unvaccinated do not display. Information about this might come out sooner than the second item. Most likely, my prediction is that it would be cardiac events from Omicron that occur mostly in the vaxxed.
If it does turn out that Omicron triggers ADE in Wuhan spike-vaccinated, it would be extremely dangerous for the course of the Omicron wave in the West.
What about the unvaxxed who had Covid?
The unvaccinated persons who had Covid previously, have a number of other antibodies (N-antibodies and others) that would likely assist in neutralizing Omicron. It explains why in the barely vaccinated South Africa, where most people had Covid, the outcomes appear to be milder so far than in Denmark. This may, unfortunately, NOT be the case for highly vaccinated and Covid-naive Denmark, UK or USA.
What about vaccinated persons who had a breakthrough infection?
Plenty of people who were double jabbed, unfortunately, had breakthrough infections, mostly with Delta, post-vaccination.
It seems that they do NOT develop lasting and multi-epitope immunity (different kinds of antibodies) due to the Original Antigenic Sin. Thus, all that these Covid-surviving vaccinees have, is the useless Wuhan antibodies from their vaccines and more from Covid infection, but not a multitude of neutralizing antibodies such as N-antibodies.
Therefore, these people are just as open to ADE from Omicron as the Covid-naive vaccinees.
If Omicron causes ADE in the vaccinated, as opposed to mere immune escape, and leaves the unvaccinated mostly undamaged, it could explain why South Africa’s morbidity is comparatively lower than Denmark, and why UK and USA’s morbidity may be higher.
Is this Fear Porn and Lockdown Advocacy?
No. I do not believe that a lockdown will help much against a virus as contagious as Omicron. Unless we are willing to nail our homes shut from the inside, and tape all cracks, and let the economy collapse completely, at least 50-60% of the population will have to work, getting infected and bringing illness to their households. If Omicron is truly airborne, persons living in multifamily housing will not have a chance.
The masks are totally worthless as well and there is no point belaboring this.
Vaccinating against Omicron specifically is also a very stupid idea, as Geert Vanden Bossche is saying. Besides, if the promises of Pfizer and Moderna are true, we will only have Omicron vaccine by March, when the Omicron wave will be already dying out.
We have go through a rough time and the best approach is
Let it rip
Shield the most vulnerable as much as possible
Finally give people early treatments that work
Tell everyone to take their Vitamins and Vitamin D3
Wait, what about other vaccine skeptics
Many other vaccination critics say something like “Omicron is mild and it will end the pandemic”. Well, this is what I WANT this situation to be — but I am afraid that Omicron is not mild.
If Omicron rips through our population like Delta ripped through unvaccinated India, yes it could peter out quickly
The theory that we will get herd immunity after everyone gets Omicron, assumes that mRNA vaccinees, who were given multiple shots of untested immune-suppressing mRNA shots, are actually capable of developing such immunity.
I hope and pray for a speedy end to the pandemic at a minimal cost — but I also am afraid that the cost will turn out to be substantial.
Please share widely to stop the insanity
I always liked the UK and its amazing people. I wrote so many articles about UKHSA and its amazing statistics.
I would like to spread this warning. Perhaps someone will read this and ask why exactly they are trying to apply boosters so completely inappropriately and dangerously.
So post this article on your feed, and see if perhaps we all can get the powers-to-be to consider this more carefully.
Monday showed an impressive 52% increase in cases, from 3,037 to 4,713 cases, 10 hospitalizations and ONE DEATH.
One of my often-read authors Bartram, offered two insightful comments:
It is worth pointing out that one of the other places where ADE was found is with many of the candidate vaccines for SARS-COV-1. Eg, see Yang et al, 2005, which used viral a vector vaccine approach (https://www.pnas.org/content/102/3/797). Of course, these were in animals and we don't know whether we'd have seen the enhanced disease if the vaccine candidate was used in humans for SARS-COV-1... but then that's the point of doing rigorous early stage trials -- it would be mad to try out these candidate vaccines on a large scale in humans before fully identifying risks that might emerge perhaps 12 months after vaccination.
There is a risk with relying on the data from SA suggesting that Omicron is less likely to result in serious disease -- they've got high levels of natural immunity (not vaccine), are younger, and, IMO most importantly of all, they're in the middle of summer which is when upper respiratory tract infections are generally mild. This latter point is almost certainly why we in the UK (and Europe in general) have had a relatively low number of hospitalisations/deaths since vaccination started. This is probably linked with vitamin D levels, but that's a moot point because people aren't being advised by national authorities to take high levels of vitD.
Denmark Dec 13, 2021: Other variants hospitalization rate 0.7%, Omicron hospitalization rate 1.1% (so Omicron is 1.5 times worse, so far):
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JUST ADDED: Look at the bottom of the article for "Denmark dec 13 2021 update":
Hospitalization Rate for prior variants 0.7%, for Omicron so far 1.1% (so 1.5 times higher).
I appreciate hearing what seems to be a contrarian view on Omicron. Love the fact that, with substacks, we are having a real discussion about this. This is what science and rational discussion looks like. Multiple interpretations subjected to analysis by many minds.