Tuesday, August 10, 2021

More Dangerous Than Delta?

We are being bombarded with stories right now about the "dangerous" Delta variant of Covid.

It is being blamed as the reason that the vaccines are not working as advertised.

It is being blamed as the reason that children in schools need to wear masks again.

It is said that it is particularly dangerous to the unvaccinated (most particularly unvaccinated children) who are also said to be the prime vectors for transmitting Delta.

There is data out there to support some of these assertions.

India, where the Delta variant is said to have originated, saw an explosion of cases beginning in mid-March. Prior to this outbreak India had been relatively untouched by the pandemic compared to many other countries.

The UK saw another surge in cases that was blamed on Delta that began in May.

The CDC has warned that the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and may make people sicker than the original version of Covid.

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/30/delta-cdc-warns-variant-is-as-contagious-as-chickenpox-may-make-people-sicker.html

Let's put that in context so that you understand how contagious chickenpox is.

This is how a pediatric infectious disease expert explains the contagiousness of chickenpox.

This delta variant is so much more contagious than the COVID we were seeing a year ago that it is becoming one of the most contagious viruses we have ever seen. It is almost as contagious as chickenpox. Chickenpox is so contagious, that if you had a patient sitting in a room with chickenpox, someone walking by in the hallway outside the room, with that door open, could catch it. That's how contagious it was -- just breathing the same air from an adjacent room.

That is really contagious. Forget about masks. Let's bring out the haz mat suits. If that is true we better have a vaccine which is very effective or it doesn't look like there is much hope that Delta will not eventually spread to everyone.

I take all of these claims seriously but I have also learned to do my own research and see where the data takes me.

The Delta variant clearly caused havoc in India but cases also declined as quickly in that country as they did on the upside. The entire cycle lasted about 90 days---45 days to peak, 45 days to level off.

Those cases also declined despite a very small number in that country being vaccinated. Today just 8% of the population in India has been fully vaccinated. It is 58% in the UK.

Based on everything we have been told, the UK should have done much better than India in dealing with Covid in general and Delta in particular.

UK has a less dense population than India. It has a more advanced health care system. It vaccinated a large proportion of its population

How do they compare on confirmed cases per capita?

How do they compare on deaths since the beginning of the pandemic?

The current surge in the United States is being blamed on the "dangerous" Delta variant. 

However, is it as dangerous as it is being portrayed or is Delta being used as a convenient excuse right now to obscure what increasingly look to be problems with the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines and the public health strategy we were told to follow from the beginning?

I don't know the answer to that question. It makes me uncomfortable even questioning whether the people who we should trust the most on this subject may be misleading us to protect their own reputations and maintain the narrative.

One of the most interesting research analyses I have come across in researching Covid over the last 18 months is a JAMA meta-analysis of 54 studies which examined the overall secondary household attack rate of people who had Covid.

In simple terms, these studies examined how many people in the same household became infected with Covid while living in that household with a symptomatic (or asymptomatic) Covid case.

To hear the CDC or media narrative you have to think it is close to 100% because of the "infectiousness" of Covid.

The actual number from the study. 17%.

That is right, less than 20% got sick with Covid living in the same house with someone with a Covid patient.

This number is a shock to almost everyone I share it with. Most don't believe it to be possible based on what they have heard in the media.

These people were living together, eating together, sharing the same bathroom facilities and, in some cases, sleeping together. Less than 1 in 5 got sick.

To add credibility to the 17% transmission rate in close quarters, that is also about the same infection rate that was found on the Diamond Princess and Teddy Roosevelt aircraft carrier early in the pandemic. Approximately 80% never got the virus despite being in very close contact with others on the ship.

The infection rate with someone who was asymptomatic? 0.7%.

I wrote about his earlier and its implications in a blog post in March titled "What About Asymptomatic Spread?".

If the attack rate is less than 1% involving asymptomatic cases in a household living arrangement, the attack rate for casual contacts involving asymptomatic cases has to be basically zero.

The key rationale for masking, distancing, and lockdowns is allegedly to protect public health from significant transmission from people who don’t show symptoms. If the contagiousness of people without symptoms is not a significant factor in the spread of Covid why have we wrecked the economy, our schools and everything else?

Why then, have we also seen the virus spread despite all of the social distancing, masks, school closures and everything else?

We are now being told all of our previous assumptions are out the window because we are dealing with a new and more dangerous variant. 

If you look at the case numbers you can easily be persuaded that is true.

Cases per million are actually more than double what they were at this time last year.

However, last year no one was vaccinated. This year, almost 60% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccines.

As I have written before, how can we have the surge we are having if the vaccines are effective?

The narrative is that it is because of the Delta variant. It is more contagious. It is more dangerous. The vaccines were not designed to work against it. It is also the fault of those who are unvaccinated.

Is that true or is that a convenient excuse?

If there was no Delta variant to blame how would they explain the rise in cases right now?

The reality is that there are simply not enough unvaccinated people to fuel a surge of this magnitude  It defies logic and mathematics. You might have a bump but you could not possibly be at double last year's numbers.

It would either have to be the vaccines were not that effective to begin with or they are wearing off so quickly to be useless without continual boosters. 

Both of these would not be helpful to the narrative that has been developed.

Is Delta really that much more contagious? That seems to be the key point with Delta.

"It is almost as contagious as chickenpox".

I found a recent UK study published by Public Health England to be interesting in that regard in that it studied the secondary household attack rate from the Delta variant in that country during the recent surge in cases.

This study looked extensively at all of the Covid variants circulating in the UK since February, 2021.

This graph from the study gives you perspective on how Delta became the dominant variant in the UK beginning in May.

In the UK, consistent with the JAMA study findings, the household secondary attack rate for the Alpha version of Covid that was circulating last December was 15.5%.

That means that almost 85% of those in a household with Covid did not get sick themselves.

What were their findings with the Delta variant?

The attack rate was 13.5% in May but was down to 10.8% in July.

Source: https://dailysceptic.org/2021/08/06/devastating-new-data-from-phe-shows-vaccine-effectiveness-down-to-17-and-no-reduction-in-infectiousness-but-mortality-cut-by-77/

This data suggests that the Delta variant in the UK, at its height, was not as infectious as the Alpha version last Winter, let alone approaching the infectiousness of chickenpox.

One commentator stated his conclusions from that finding in the PHE briefing study.

Another noteworthy point from the briefing is that the secondary attack rate (SAR, the proportion of contacts that an infected person infects) of the Delta variant has continued to decline as the surge exhausts itself. The household SAR is now at 10.8%, down from a high of 13.5% on May 4th. This means nearly 90% of the people who live with someone infected with the ‘highly transmissible’ Delta variant do not contract the virus, an indication of widespread (and growing) immunity to the variant. Note that this is well below the 15.5% ‘direct contact’ SAR of the Alpha variant in the middle of December, giving the lie to the oft-repeated claim that Delta is intrinsically more infectious than Alpha.

Where does that leave us who live in the United States?

The Sunbelt is in the middle of the same seasonal outbreak that occurred last Summer as the heat drives people inside to air conditioning and makes them more susceptible to the virus.

I would expect we are close to the peak in those states.

The narrative is that the surge in those states is due to low vaccination rates and Delta.

What is going to occur when the seasonality trend turns to the blue states in Northern climes? It will as the weather cools. 

That is going to be the real test of the vaccines and the narrative. 

In the next month we should also see if deaths are following cases up in the states that are seeing the surge right now. Deaths normally lag cases by about 30 days.

It may only be then that we find out whether Delta was really that infectious and dangerous or whether is it just a convenient excuse to keep the narrative alive that is centered so critically on vaccines as the only answer.

That includes doubling down even more on vaccine mandates as mounting evidence suggests they are woefully adequate for their intended purpose---to prevent infection and the transmission of disease.

The PHE study also found that there were limited difference in the infectiousness of those who were vaccinated and unvaccinated if they contracted Covid in that they showed similar viral loads (p.35). This clearly suggests that vaccinated people are spreading the virus. What exact purpose do "vaccine passports" serve then?

It still is very possible that the vaccines are effective in reducing severe illness and death. 

There is data to support that conclusion which includes the PHE briefing cited above. It showed a reduction in mortality due to the vaccines of 77%.

However, this would mean that these shots are really more akin to treatments than vaccines.

That then raises the question of whether it is ethical to subject so many people to the risks that may accompany those shots when the disease and its transmission is not being prevented. Shouldn't the focus then shift to other treatments that would be more targeted and carry less overall risks for the population?

Is Delta that dangerous?

Or is it possible that we face an even more dangerous threat right now that the CDC and the political class are so invested in their narrative than they are unwilling to veer from it at any cost.

The next few months may provide us with the elusive answer.

What was more dangerous?

Delta or what we were told to believe that simply was not true.


Below are some charts that show the history of chickenpox in the United States and the effects after a vaccine was first introduced in 1995.

This gives you some perspective as to what you would expect to see from a vaccine that was successfully preventing infection and the transmission of disease.

Notice that as vaccination percentages increased there was a corresponding reduction in cases.

Source: https://vaccines.procon.org/vaccine-histories-and-impact/varicella-chickenpox/

Source: https://vaccines.procon.org/vaccine-histories-and-impact/varicella-chickenpox/

By the time vaccination rates got to 60% cases had dropped by 80%.

Right now our Covid vaccination rates are about 60% but cases are up 100% since this time last year.

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