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Omicron highlights fading hope of herd immunity from COVID-19

Julie Steenhuysen Published Thursday, January 20, 2022 10:19AM EST
 
 
 

CHICAGO -- The Omicron variant, which is spreading far faster than previous versions of the coronavirus, is not likely to help countries achieve so-called herd immunity against COVID-19, in which enough people become immune to the virus that it can no longer spread, leading disease experts say.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, public health officials have expressed hope that it was possible to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, as long as a high enough percentage of the population was vaccinated or infected with the virus.

Those hopes dimmed as the coronavirus mutated into new variants in quick succession over the past year, enabling it to reinfect people who were vaccinated or had previously contracted COVID-19.

Some health officials have revived the possibility of herd immunity since Omicron emerged late last year.

The fact that the variant spreads so quickly and causes milder illness might soon expose enough people, in a less harmful way, to the SARS-COV-2 virus and provide that protection, they argue.

Disease experts note, however, that Omicron’s transmissibility is aided by the fact that this variant is even better than its predecessors at infecting people who were vaccinated or had a prior infection. That adds to evidence that the coronavirus will continue to find ways to break through our immune defenses, they said.

“Reaching a theoretical threshold beyond which transmission will cease is probably unrealistic given the experience we have had in the pandemic,” Dr. Olivier le Polain, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO), told Reuters.

That is not to say that prior immunity offers no benefit. Instead of herd immunity, many experts interviewed by Reuters said there was growing evidence that vaccines and prior infection would help boost population immunity against COVID-19, which makes the disease less serious for those who are infected, or become reinfected.

“As long as population immunity holds with this variant and future variants, we'll be fortunate and the disease will be manageable,” said Dr. David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

NOT LIKE MEASLES

Current COVID-19 vaccines were primarily designed to prevent severe disease and death rather than infection. But clinical trial results in late 2020 showing that two of the vaccines had more than 90% efficacy against the disease initially sparked hope that the virus could be largely contained by widespread vaccination, similar to the way measles has been curbed by inoculation.

With SARS-CoV-2, two factors have since undermined that picture, said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

"The first is that immunity, especially to infection, which is the important kind of immunity, wanes quite quickly, at least from the vaccines that we have right now," he said.

The second is that the virus can quickly mutate in a way that enables it to elude protection from vaccination or prior infection - even when immunity has not waned.

"It changes the game when vaccinated people can still shed virus and infect other people," said Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine.

He cautioned against assuming that infection with Omicron would increase protection, especially against the next variant that might arise. "Just because you had Omicron, maybe that protects you from getting Omicron again, maybe," Wohl said.

Vaccines in development that provide immunity against future variants or even multiple types of coronaviruses could change that, said Pasi Penttinen, the top influenza expert at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, but it will take time.

Still, the hope for herd immunity as a ticket back to normal life is hard to shake.

"These things were in the media: 'We’ll reach herd immunity when 60% of the population are vaccinated.' It didn't happen. Then for 80%. Again, it didn't happen,” Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology at University College London, told Reuters.

“As horrible as it sounds, I think we have to prepare ourselves to the fact that the vast majority, essentially everyone, will get exposed to SARS-CoV-2," he said.

Global health experts expect that the coronavirus will ultimately become endemic, circulating persistently in the population and causing sporadic surges. The emergence of Omicron, however, has raised questions about exactly when that might happen.

“We will get there," said the WHO's le Polain, "but we are not there at the moment.”

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Those with symptoms of depression more likely to believe vaccine misinformation: study

Solarina Ho

Solarina HoCTVNews.ca Writer

@shtweet Contact

Published Friday, January 21, 2022 3:14PM ESTLast Updated Friday, January 21, 2022 3:14PM EST
 

TORONTO -- Adults with moderate to major symptoms of depression appear more likely to support false statements about COVID-19 vaccines and those who believe the misinformation have a higher probability of not being vaccinated, a new Harvard University-led study suggests.

The paper, published on Friday in JAMA Network Open, analyzed data from 15,464 responses between May and July 2021 in two waves of an ongoing internet survey project. The results add to a growing body of research, particularly amid COVID-19, examining how and why misinformation spreads. Previous research has found that about a quarter of adults in the U.S. have shown moderate or stronger symptoms of depression during the pandemic, which can contribute to negativity bias.

“A general bias toward negativity in information selection, processing, and recall may exacerbate misinformation exposure. In the context of political misinformation, both anger and anxiety are associated with promoting beliefs in certain types of false stories,” researchers wrote.

Respondents, who also completed a patient health questionnaire to measure their depressive symptoms in the previous two weeks, were asked their vaccination status and questions that included four statements about the vaccine that were not true: “The COVID-19 vaccines will alter people’s DNA,” “The COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips that could track people,” “The COVID-19 vaccines contain the lung tissue of aborted fetuses,” and “The COVID-19 vaccines can cause infertility, making it more difficult to get pregnant.” Respondents were asked to rate the statements as accurate, inaccurate, or not sure.

To ensure the survey did not contribute to the spread of misinformation, respondents were told which statements were not true at the end of the survey section.

Participants did not know they were completing a survey focused on COVID-19 to mitigate selection bias. The survey used nonprobability sampling, meaning the participants chose to participate and were not randomly selected. To mitigate this issue, self-reported details on age, gender, ethnicity, education, zip codes, and other factors were reweighted to approximate the adult population in each state.

The survey study found that signs of depression were tied to an increased likelihood of believing misinformation, with those who believed at least one piece of false information on vaccines also “significantly less likely” to be vaccinated and more likely to be resistant to vaccination.

In an analysis adjusted to reflect the U.S. population, 29.3 per cent of survey participants who had moderate or worse symptoms of depression believed misinformation compared with 15.1 per cent of those who had no symptoms.

More than 2,800 respondents also answered the survey again in July, and those who showed signs of depression in the first survey appeared to have a greater likelihood of endorsing even more false statements compared with the first survey.

While mistrust in institutions may be another potential factor, the authors also found that modelling to examine that relationship did not change the main findings associated with depression.

The study’s design did not look at whether depression caused an individual to believe in misinformation, the scientists said, adding that the association merited further study. It was possible that those with depression were more prone to use certain types of social media, that those platforms could be more likely to promote misinformation, and that social media use could promote both depression and misinformation independently, researchers wrote in the study.

“As anticipated, we also found that individuals who embraced health misinformation were less likely to be vaccinated or be willing to get the vaccine if available. As such, individuals already burdened with depression may be at a higher risk of COVID-19,” the paper said.

“It bears noting that individuals with depression may also exhibit a lack of positive interpretation bias, ie, less optimistic beliefs, which could lead them to underestimate the potential benefit of vaccination. Notably, mood disorders have been associated with worse COVID-19 outcomes among hospitalized patients.”

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'We cannot eliminate all risk': B.C. starting to manage COVID-19 more like common cold, officials say

B.C. shifts approach to pandemic

 
Published Jan. 21, 2022 12:51 p.m. MST
British Columbia is beginning to manage COVID-19 more like the common cold, the province's top doctor said Friday while explaining major shifts in the government's approach to the pandemic.

While contact-tracing was a foundational part of the provincial COVID-19 response for the better part of two years, officials largely abandoned that tool weeks ago, deeming it ineffective in the face of Omicron's rapid spread and shorter incubation period.

 
 

They began discouraging PCR testing for most of the population around the same time, reserving limited capacity for health-care workers, seniors and others at higher risk.

Earlier this week, the government also updated self-isolation guidelines, removing the minimum length of time many adults need to stay home after catching the virus.

"I absolutely recognize this as a shift. It means we have to change our way of thinking that we have been working on so intently together for the last two years," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a news conference.

"But we are all familiar with these new measures. They're much like how we manage other respiratory illnesses – influenza, or RSV, or enteroviruses that cause the common cold."

For the time being, the province's recommendations largely revolve around self-management, meaning that individuals should be assessing themselves for symptoms on a daily basis. Anyone who has even mild symptoms, such as a sore throat, should stay home until they feel better.

But for those who didn't experience severe symptoms and were never tested, there is no longer a minimum amount of time that they must keep away from the public. Previously, they were told to selfi-isolate for at least five days.

"We cannot eliminate all risk," Henry said. "And I think that's something that we need to understand and accept. As this virus has changed, it's become part of what we will be living with for years to come."

The same layers of protection that have been recommended since early in the pandemic remain important for reducing the spread, Henry said. That includes regular hand-washing, wearing quality masks indoors, and keeping groups small.

People who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, such as the immunocompromised, are also advised to be extra cautious.

Unlike colds and flus, COVID-19 is also still considered dangerous enough to warrant a number of impactful public health measures. Bars and nightclubs remain closed province-wide, while arenas, movie theatres and other venues are still limited to 50 per cent capacity. Organized events such as wedding and funeral receptions are still on pause, and providing proof of vaccination is required for many activities.

While transmission for the Omicron wave is believed to have peaked in B.C. earlier this month, hospitalizations and deaths have yet to subside.

The 15 coronavirus-related deaths reported Thursday pushed the province's seven-day average to a three-month high of 8.29 per day. The number of test-positive patients in hospital reached an all-time high of 895 on Wednesday, though many are what's known as incidental cases, meaning the patient was hospitalized for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

Health officials continue to strongly recommend vaccination, pointing to an ever-growing mass of "incontrovertible evidence" that it dramatically reduces the chances of severe illness from COVID-19. Vaccine protection also reduces – but does not eliminate – the chances of catching the virus and transmitting it to others, Henry said.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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I bet few people ever thought this would be the subject of debate in Canada. The far left has now become indistinguishable from the far right. 

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/pandemic-covid-vaccine-triage-omicron-1.6319844

In order to cause the harm we are in peril of experiencing, we need to have majority opinion begin to trump the notion of individual rights.

Many past evils resulted from this and the true irony here is watching those who defend it pull down statues dedicated to those who supported similar ideas in the past.

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I was emailed this and I have no idea about the reliability of this organisation. It says this about itself in regards to vaccines.

"At the Daily Sceptic we report all the news about the vaccines whether positive or negative and give no one advice about whether they should or should not take them. Unlike with lockdowns, we are neither pro-vaccine nor anti-vaccine; we see our job as reporting the facts, not advocating for or against a particular policy."

Here is an article based on UK statistics based on the numbers from the govt. agency UKHSA.

https://dailysceptic.org/2022/01/20/triple-jabbed-over-30s-have-higher-infection-rates-than-the-unvaccinated-ukhsa-data-show/

 

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https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/covid-body-health-issues-1.6323589

Toxicity of the spike protein and the resulting allergic/inflammatory reactions have been my chief concern all along and those concerns were based on nothing more than high school biology.

Incredibly, those questions and all discussion about virus protein & vaccine protein short term/long term toxicity effects were banned and ridiculed. At this point, I don’t want to suggest that it’s too late to matter but it seems to me that the die is cast and the opportunity to base our collective decisions on thoughtful debate has passed us by.

Like a lightning strike in the forrest, what happens now is more about ambient conditions than forestry management practices. Hopefully calm winds and light rain are in the forecast and at least we can discuss the forecast without fear of reprisal now. It took far too long to get here.

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Scientists monitoring new omicron subvariant BA.2

BA.2 numbers around the world are rising, with at least 40 countries reporting cases to a global variant tracking database, but the subvariant has spread rapidly in Denmark and the UK, with almost half of recent cases in Denmark attributed to BA.2.

The subvariant has already been detected in several U.S. states, with Washington State confirming two cases Monday.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/scientists-monitoring-omicron-subvariant-ba2/story?id=82472629

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2 minutes ago, Moon The Loon said:

I guess this is where he is coming from but it is amazing that he was singled out for problems and hundreds of thousands others somehow dodged the bullet.

Eric Clapton Goes on Anti-Vaccine Diatribe - Rolling Stone

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I don’t get the sudden safety concerns swirling around Ivermectin and particularly antimalarials.

If the concerns are valid, lots of veterans are wondering where all the concern was when they were gobbling them by the handful. It seems like only yesterday when the government was adamant that they were perfectly safe. I’m not talking about efficacy here either, only safety. 

If they really are safe, cheap and plentiful, and if they are observed to work for a percentage of the population then what’s up? Are they still "perfectly safe" or are they not, what changed and when did it change?

It seems like we have to wait 2 years to get answers to the most basic of high school biology questions. Even known parameters like virus diameter vs filtration efficiency have suddenly become complete mysteries and unanswerable riddles.

IMO, it seems like narrative (not rational inquiry) that prevents us from rising above the  "are you a horse" question. 

So here’s my question in the form of a theory…. It seems to me that the spike protein itself is toxic and that toxicity exists whether the protein was acquired in virus or vaccine form. In some people it causes inflammation (allergic reaction to the protein) that follows viral infection (proper)… a delayed reaction if you will.

Its effect as an allergen depends on the sensitivity of the individual and runs from no effect to life threatening respiratory distress. Other existing conditions are not as huge a factor as most think, allergic reactions aren’t a function of hypertension (for example) but that can certainly effect the outcome. In other words, the wasp stink didn’t kill you because you had high blood pressure it killed you because you had an anaphylactic reaction to the venom.

Of note IMO, is that vaccine reactions of that type would only occur after two (or more) exposures to the virus. That's why I have concerns for the future. Lipids and BBB penetration are a whole separate thread. As always, I don't know the answers but if you want my buy in you will have to answer the questions and you will have to be polite when you do it. This is grade 13 to 1st year biology classroom stuff. Why aren't people asking questions?

As a motorcyclist, forestry worker (distant past) and (handsome) young soldier, I've been stung many (and I do mean many) times. I now swell up pretty badly and require Prednisone to knock it down. Clearly, I might have a few concerns about inflammatory reactions. But and it's a big but, my questions remain unanswered at best and ridiculed at worst.

Be assured that snarky memes referring to depressed horses with intestinal worms are nothing more than a complete waste of bandwidth and I'm still curious as to how y'all intend to force that vaccine on me? 

 

  

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I guess you can either ask a high school biology student right now or wait two years for the experts to receive divinely inspired epiphanies on the wings of angels. Even so, virus diameter vs filter efficacy suggests (to me) that it's iffy at best.

And here's a fun fact, the circulating antibodies (from inoculation) aren't effective (available) to mucus membranes. IMO, that's the reason for vaccinated people becoming carriers, spreaders and variant factories. But that's just me. It's another question ignored and ridiculed... we'll find out in 2024 though.

https://nationalpost.com/shopping-essentials/n95-face-masks-provide-the-best-omicron-protection

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One things for sure, if you have a molecule of integrity and "follow the science", you can't be in favour of vaccine passports and be opposed to keeping them up to date at the same time. 

You would have to subscribe to the notion that something can be simultaneously true and untrue within the confines of a single sentence. IMO, that's the exclusive domain of those responsible for our current situation.

Once there is a full accounting of the costs involved the bills will roll in. Being willing to pay them is the domain of one I can disagree with but still respect. As a for instance, if you want what you say you do, the carbon tax needs to go much higher.

$50 doesn't cut it, ask a 10 year old with a hand held calculator. The sooner it gets to $300 a ton the sooner you start paying for what you say you want..

Some urge vaccine certificates to require three doses as Ontario set for reopening 

Both NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca echo experts in calling for vaccine certificates to require third doses

 

 

 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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POOF...

Quote of the day. 

Just a few days ago this would have been misinformation. Stay tuned, lots more grade 13 biology to come. Conspiracy theorists aren't wrong, they're just early:

“I think many experts believe that so-called herd immunity may not be achievable with this virus because it undergoes constant evolution. So what you’re looking at is this endemic state where people will get reinfected over time as immunity wanes,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam told a House of Commons health committee in mid-January.

It will take about a month to turn the ship, but before you can shout "misinformation", the most vocal supporters of covid madness will be pretending that they knew this all along. Watch how the language evolves, you will soon be hearing lots more phrases like "so-called" and "experts believe."

Look how short a time it took to get them saying: "vaccines were never intended to stop transmission or infection, they were always intended to prevent severe illness." 

It's pretty cool, they can look you right in the eye and say it with a straight face too.

 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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On 1/27/2022 at 1:32 PM, Wolfhunter said:

I don’t get the sudden safety concerns swirling around Ivermectin and particularly antimalarials.

 

My go to Antimalarial is a good old Gin and Tonic.  Apparently that will kill you now too.

 

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https://www.foxnews.com/media/stanford-medical-professor-masking-social-distancing-long-term-damage-immune-systems

Not long ago the doctor quoted would never have allowed his name to be used for fear of reprisal. Maybe it's just me, but when I see a massive change in previous course and it's presented in a subtle fashion (in the form of a quasi public service message) by mainstream media, I question the validity, the why and the timing of it.

I have absolutely no doubt that there will be long term damage to immune systems and that they will be across the board, but his reason doesn't make a lot of sense to me... it seems awfully convenient.

I say this because if I knew (or even suspected) there were potentially bad outcomes ahead I would be priming the pump today with a credible story for tomorrow.

Then I could say, see, alls well, we predicted this. If nothing came of it no one would even remember and if they did, I'd just say: "ya, glad I was wrong about that."  

Now, this may not be the case, but just in case it is the case, this is exactly how cases are managed ahead of them becoming cases.

 

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Next thing you know we'll find out that early intervention with cheap, safe, readily available (WHO essential) drugs would have saved thousands of lives.

I'm thinking that before long, the people who demanded (yes demanded) that it not be done are going to look pretty silly and all of their snarky memes about depressed horses with intestinal parasites will disappear in an online orgy of post deletions.

Then they'll pretend they knew it all along:

 

Lockdowns only reduced COVID deaths by 0.2 per cent, Johns Hopkins study finds 

'We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality'

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1 hour ago, Wolfhunter said:

Next thing you know we'll find out that early intervention with cheap, safe, readily available (WHO essential) drugs would have saved thousands of lives.

I'm thinking that before long, the people who demanded (yes demanded) that it not be done are going to look pretty silly and all of their snarky memes about depressed horses with intestinal parasites will disappear in an online orgy of post deletions.

Then they'll pretend they knew it all along:

 

Lockdowns only reduced COVID deaths by 0.2 per cent, Johns Hopkins study finds 

'We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality'

Finally some common sense appearing. This study can only boost the protest legitimacy in Ottawa. Will be interesting to see how the resident idiot responds to this. Could be an interesting question period.

Similarly, Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that policymakers may be underestimating how much of COVID’s spread was mitigated simply by the private actions of citizens. If lockdowns were ineffective, they write, “this should draw our focus to the role of voluntary behavioural changes.”

It will be years until researchers have a complete picture of the harms caused by lockdown policies, including damage to mental health and corresponding spikes in cancer and overdose fatalities.

What is known, however, is the cost: Government-imposed lockdowns spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic have proved to be one of the most expensive single events in human history. In Canada alone, the first year of the pandemic yielded a $343 billion federal deficit driven largely by payments to workers unemployed by government-mandated closures of gyms, restaurants and other public spaces.”

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8 hours ago, Jaydee said:

It will be years until researchers have a complete picture of the harms caused by lockdown policies, including damage to mental health and corresponding spikes in cancer and overdose fatalities.

Sad eh?

Covid was a test, it was as simple as it was complex. At every opportunity and at every juncture we failed, we failed ourselves, we failed the founding principles of our country and we did it for the worst possible reason.. fear.

 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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On 2/3/2022 at 4:07 PM, Wolfhunter said:

 

Covid was a test, it was as simple as it was complex. At every opportunity and at every juncture we failed, we failed ourselves, we failed the founding principles of our country and we did it for the worst possible reason.. fear.

 

Watch the entire clip  SPOT ON

 

 

Edited by Jaydee
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