Monday, November 29, 2021

Oh no! Omicron!

The news of the new Covid variant identified in Africa in the last few days says a lot about the times we are living in.

First, a lot can change in a very short period of time.

In addition, there seems to be no bounds to the panic porn that results from anything to do with Covid.

Before we get into discussing the Omicron variant seriously consider another two things.

MORONIC is an anagram you can make out of Omicron. Is that merely a coincidence? Someone, Somewhere really has a sense of humor.

It is also interesting that the WHO decided to name the newly identified B.1.1.529 variant Omicron bypassing the next two Greek letters in the naming conventions they have been using for the Covid variants.

I understand skipping Nu. After all, this is hardly a "new" variant at this point.

The WHO also clearly was not going to name this variant Xi were they?

Might that remind people around the world where this pandemic started?

After all, you can argue that Xi could be used to describe all of the Covid variants because all questions about where Covid came from seem to lead to the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and what the CCP was doing in that lab in Wuhan.

Omicron avoids a lot of problems for China and the World Health Organization.

It seems that the Omicron variant first made news when Botswana announced that it had identified it in samples taken on November 11.

It was later revealed that the variant was discovered in four foreign diplomats who had entered the country all of which had been fully vaccinated. They had entered the country on November 7 and the positive tests were collected as they were departing the country on November 11. It has never been disclosed which countries these foreign diplomats came from.

Could it have been South Africa?

South Africa stated that it found Omicron in samples collected on November 14. It seems to be the country in which most of the focus over the variant has come from.

However, the variant has been subsequently found in 14 other counties including Belgium, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada and Hong Kong according to The Washington Post.

Of these, Belgium is the largest trading partner of Botswana outside of South Africa. It is their largest export partner. To me, that is a more likely source for the variant than South Africa. Since Belgium is the country that Botswana exports to more than any other country it is also logical that it would not disclose to the public where those foreign diplomats were from. That might prove bad for future business.

For example, consider recent cases in the three countries--Botswana, South Africa and Belgium.

Where do you think it is more likely that a positive case came from?

Joe Biden imposed a travel restriction on people from eight African countries from traveling to the United States as of November 29 which include  Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and Mozambique. 

Of course, this is the same Joe Biden who called Donald Trump racist and xenophobic for instituting a travel ban on China early in the pandemic when cases were exploding in that country.

It was racist to do this with China but not with African countries?

What are the recent case numbers in those African countries compared to the United States and the EU?

Their confirmed cases barely show up on the chart.

Does this look more like a political decisions or a decision based on data and science?

What do I make of Omicron?

We clearly need to be cautious and find out more but it feels like an overreaction based on what I am seeing right now.

What I find most interesting (and troubling) it that so many of the cases we know about right now have been in international travelers of which most are fully vaccinated.

When I see this I cannot help but think of the warnings of Geert Vanden Bossche about the increased risk of mutant variants as the virus attempts to work around the mass vaccination effort. I wrote about his thesis here.

Vanden Bossche has warned from the beginning that mutations are much more likely to occur within the vaccinated population and the speed in which mutations occur is accelerated due to mass vaccinations during a pandemic.

This will end up increasing (rather than decreasing) risk of severe disease in the vaccinated due to ADE (antibody dependent enhancement) and compromised natural immunity due to the vaccine.

His thesis is similar to what we hear about the overuse of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. The more that they are used (or overused) the greater the chance that the bacterial infections will get stronger and eventually evade all antibiotics.

Is Omicron and the other major variants being caused by the vaccines?

This is what Vanden Bossche has written in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

The world may be taken by surprise but that doesn't include us. It remains to be seen whether Omicron can outcompete Delta (to be confirmed). If that’s the case, we're definitely not in good shape.

In case of CoV, innate immunity protects the individual and the 'herd' ( sterilizing immunity, no natural selection pressure, herd immunity) whereas adaptive immunity induced with leaky vaccines has exactly the opposite effect.

THE big Q is whether such an immune escape variant could even resist naturally acquired Abs in people who recovered from C19 disease. I am, indeed, cautious and worried about ADE, even in the unvaccinated who recovered from C-19 disease as they may no longer be able to control viral infection. ADE would equal ‘enhanced virulence’. Difficult to predict.

Mass vaccination has compressed the evolutionary trajectory of the virus from a few hundred years (?) down to one year. Hope that naturally primed individuals can deal with that speed.


This is confirmation to me why we need to look at what develops with Omicron very cautiously.

The normal natural progression of a respiratory virus is that it becomes more infectious but less lethal over time as it mutates.

For example, mutations of the deadly Spanish flu of 100 years ago are still circulating today but they have faded as a significant health threat to most people. Many have built up broad antibodies to deal with it as the virus has evolved over the years. As a result, it is really not a health threat today even though it still circulates.

The fact is that the Covid pandemic has already lasted longer than most respiratory virus pandemics we have seen in the past. Most burn out within 18 months. That was the case with the Spanish flu.

We are beyond that point with Covid even with a vaccine deployed less than a year after the emergence of the virus which we did not have in previous respiratory virus pandemics.

Early in the pandemic I read a paper which stated that it was unwise to predict how long Covid would be with us. In particular, we should not compare how long Covid would last with what we experienced with the Spanish flu.

The authors, a virologist and historian at the University of Pittsburgh, pointed out that SARS-CoV-2 and influenza are biologically different.

They both have RNA material. RNA viruses tend to accumulate a lot of mutations as they multiply. However, they "typically don't double-check copied genes to correct errors during replication".

That is not the case with coronaviruses according to the authors. They do proofread their copied RNA which means they naturally have a lower relative mutation rate.

Read what they stated early in the pandemic (June, 2020).

Coronaviruses actually do proofread their copied RNA to fix inadvertent errors during replication, which decreases their relative mutation rate. From the originally sequenced SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China in December 2019 to recently banked sequences from the U.S., there are fewer than 10 mutations in 30,000 potential locations in its genome, despite the virus having traveled around the world and through multiple generations of human hosts. Influenza makes 6.5 times more errors per replication cycle, independent of entire genome segment swaps.

The relative genetic stability of SARS-CoV-2 means that future peaks of disease are unlikely to be driven by natural changes in virulence due to mutation. Mutation is unlikely to contribute to predictable “waves” of COVID-19.

If that is the case, why are we seeing these significant mutations in Covid?  

Why is the data from around the world showing significant numbers of people being infected in areas with high vaccination rates?

For example. let's take another look at Belgium.

75% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Confirmed cases are almost at all-time highs. They are up 9-fold since October 1.

There is evidence in Belgium and other countries that the vaccines may be preventing deaths. However, that means the vaccines are only useful as private protection for those who feel the need for it. They are not providing the stated public health goal of preventing infections and transmission such that mandates should be required.

The authors of the article cited above predicted that the pandemic would continue, not due to Covid mutation or increased virulence, but by the further exposure of non-immune people to the virus.

They predicted future COVID-19 cases and deaths would continue at a relatively steady state with periodic local flare ups very likely driven by how compliant people are in using non pharmaceutical interventions (social distancing, lockdowns, washing hands---at this point masks were not even mandated in most states).

They concluded with this statement on how they predicted the pandemic would end.

This scenario will continue until the U.S. population gains herd immunity, ideally accelerated by vaccination.

I don't think in their wildest imaginations they would have believed that we would have 75% vaccinated, many more who were previously infected with natural immunity, and seeing this surge in cases almost two years into the pandemic.

It seems to defy both the principles of virology and the lessons of history.

In many places around the world cases have accelerated as vaccination levels increased.

How do you explain it?

The good news out of South Africa is that the early reports of cases of Omicron appear to be mild.


That news did not seem to get through the panic porn media when news of the first reports of the new mutation hit the financial markets.


In addition, the Covid variant fears did much more to the price of oil than Biden's announcement that he was going to raid the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower its cost.


In the meantime, Dr. Tony Fauci was on the Sunday news shows and said that we should be prepared to do anything and everything to fight the Omicron variant. That includes further lockdowns but it was "too early to say" whether that would be necessary.


Do I need to remind you that Fauci was also the one who told us in May that it was unlikely that we would see a Covid surge in the coming Fall or Winter because of the vaccines.


"Well, the fact that we have vaccines right now, Chuck, is really a game changer," Fauci told host Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press." 

At the time, Fauci said that this was dependent on a goal of  70% of the population with a least one dose of vaccine. He said that when children were not even eligible for the vaccines.

The CDC reports that currently 74.1% of everyone age 5+ has received at least one dose as well as 70% of the entire population.

Another 19% have received booster doses which includes 42% of the age 65+ population. In May, there was no mention by Fauci that booster doses were going to be required.

Why does this man have any credibility left?

It increasingly appears that many are tuning him out.

Look no further than this image after the University of Michigan defeated Ohio State on Saturday in their rivalry football game.



It looks like a good portion of the 111,156 in attendance descended on the field after the game. 

Bear in mind that right now Michigan has the highest per capita level of Covid cases in the country.

Are these people just all done with the Covid panic porn?

Perhaps they are just putting Covid into better context.

Look at the number above on cases per 100,000.

In Michigan, there are about 85 confirmed cases per 100,000 people compared to 25/100,000 for the United States as a whole.

Let's assume those people are infectious for 7 days on average. That means in Michigan you would expect 595 infectious people in a crowd of 100,000. 

This is the highest risk population in the United States and that means less than 0.6% of the crowd is infectious based on the data. This is also in an outdoor venue with a lot of ventilation.

Let's put that into further perspective. 

4.4 million Americans are injured seriously enough in auto accidents each year that they need medical care. That works out to be 1,333 per 100,000 in population. That means that more people in that crowd will need medical attention from an auto accident in the next year than were possibly infectious with Covid at that game. And this is in the state with the highest case load in the country right now.

Will we see a further spike in cases as a result of what Dr. Fauci would consider a disturbing "super spreader" event? Let's keep an eye on Michigan over the next several weeks. My bet is that the state is already near the peak of this surge looking at past patterns.

New Reported Cases in Michigan

What we saw at Michigan's football game may just signal we have reached the point that many have become more comfortable with the risks of Covid.

We will see what is to come with Omicron.

Let's hope that it does not outcompete the Delta variant and does not prove to be more lethal contrary to what we would normally expect with the normal evolution of respiratory viruses.

If so, as Vanden Bossche states, we may really be saying Oh No! 

I hope not.

However, if that turns out to be the case, will anybody start to scrutinize what we are doing with these vaccines?

We should be well past the time where there should be any questions whatsoever about their efficacy.

The narrative we hear every day is they are fantastic. They are safe and effective and everything would be perfect if everyone just lined up and took the jab.

The data says something else.

There have been more cases and deaths in 2021 in the United States with the vaccines than in 2020 without the vaccines.

As does the fact that they now want everyone to take a booster who is age 18+.

And Pfizer and the other vaccine makers are already working on an Omicron vaccine.

They say it could be available in 100 days. If that is the case why didn't they modify the boosters to be more effective against the Delta variant already? Delta was first identified in India last December. They had an entire year.

Are people taking jabs for last year's Covid for no reason at all? We are already 8 mutations beyond Delta according to the WHO.


Do not be misled by the narrative that Delta is much more transmissible and infectious than Covid was originally. This is the argument that we often hear as to why cases and deaths are up despite the vaccines.

However, surveillance data from the UK from September indicated that the secondary attack rate within a household from Delta was just 10.6%. The original Covid wild type had a secondary attack rate of 16.6%.

Think about that---almost 90% of people in the same household did not contact the Delta variant of Covid even when living in the same household with a positive case!

Have you ever heard that on CNN, let alone on Fox News?


Once again it does not appear that the data supports the narrative.

The fact that we are this far into the use of these vaccines and the narrative is not supported by the real-world data is far more troubling than anything I can think of.

Oh no!

For sure.

No comments:

Post a Comment