Friday, October 29, 2021

‘Immunity wanes’: Study finds vaccinated people easily transmit Delta in households

London: The Delta coronavirus variant can transmit easily from vaccinated people to their household contacts, according to a British study, although contacts were less likely to get infected if they were vaccinated themselves.

The Imperial College London study illustrates how the highly transmissible Delta variant can spread even in a vaccinated population.

The researchers underlined that this did not weaken the argument for vaccination as the best way of reducing serious illness from COVID-19 and said booster shots were required.

They found infections in the vaccinated cleared more quickly, but the peak viral load remained similar to the unvaccinated.

“By carrying out repeated and frequent sampling from contacts of COVID-19 cases, we found that vaccinated people can contract and pass on infection within households, including to vaccinated household members,” Dr Anika Singanayagam, co-lead author of the study, said.

“Our findings provide important insights into... why the Delta variant is continuing to cause high COVID-19 case numbers around the world, even in countries with high vaccination rates.”

The study, which enrolled 621 participants, found that of 205 household contacts of people with Delta COVID-19 infection, 38 per cent of household contacts who were unvaccinated went on to test positive, compared to 25 per cent of vaccinated contacts.

Vaccinated contacts who tested positive for COVID-19 on average had received their shots longer ago than those who tested negative, which the authors said was evidence of waning immunity and supported the need for booster shots.

Imperial epidemiologist Neil Ferguson said that the transmissibility of Delta meant that it was unlikely Britain would reach “herd immunity” for long.

“That may happen in the next few weeks: if the epidemic’s current transmission peaks and then starts declining, we have by definition in some sense reached herd immunity, but it is not going to be a permanent thing,” he told reporters.

“Immunity wanes over time, it is imperfect, so you still get transmission happening, and that is why the booster programme is so important.”


How much less likely are you to spread covid-19 if you're vaccinated?

People who are fully vaccinated against covid-19 are far less likely to infect others, despite the arrival of the delta variant, several studies show. The findings refute the idea, which has become common in some circles, that vaccines no longer do much to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“They absolutely do reduce transmission,” says Christopher Byron Brooke at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “Vaccinated people do transmit the virus in some cases, but the data are super crystal-clear that the risk of transmission for a vaccinated individual is much, much lower than for an unvaccinated individual.”

A recent study found that vaccinated people infected with the delta variant are 63 per cent less likely to infect people who are unvaccinated.

This is only slightly lower than with the alpha variant, says Brechje de Gier at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, who led the study. Her team had previously found that vaccinated people infected with alpha were 73 per cent less likely to infect unvaccinated people.

What is important to realise, de Gier says, is that the full effect of vaccines on reducing transmission is even higher than 63 per cent, because most vaccinated people don’t become infected in the first place.

De Gier and her team used data from the Netherlands’ contact tracing system to work out the so-called secondary attack rate – the proportion of contacts infected by positive cases. They then worked out how much this was reduced by vaccination, adjusting for factors such as age.

De Gier says they cannot calculate the full reduction in transmission due to vaccination, because they don’t know exactly how much vaccination reduces the risk of infection. But even assuming vaccination only halves the risk of infection, this would still imply that vaccines reduce transmission by more than 80 per cent overall.

Others have worked out the full effect. Earlier this year, Ottavia Prunas at Yale University applied two different models to data from Israel, where the Pfizer vaccine was used. Her team’s conclusion was that the overall vaccine effectiveness against transmission was 89 per cent.

However, the data used only went up to 24 March, before delta became dominant. The team is now using more recent data to work out the impact of delta, says Prunas.

The idea that vaccines are no longer that effective against transmission may derive from news reports in July claiming that vaccinated people who become infected “can carry as much virus as others”. Even if this were true, however, vaccines would still greatly reduce transmission by reducing infections in the first place.

In fact, the study that sparked the news reports didn’t measure the number of viruses in someone directly but relied on so-called Ct scores, a measure of viral RNA. However, this RNA can derive from viruses destroyed by the immune system. “You can measure the RNA but it’s rendered useless,” says Timothy Peto at the University of Oxford.

Read more: How mRNA is transforming the way we treat illnesses from flu to cancer
There are now several lines of evidence that Ct scores aren’t a good measure of the amount of virus someone has. Firstly, the fact that infected vaccinated people are much less likely to infect others. Peto has done a similar study to de Gier using contact tracing data from England and gotten similar results.

Secondly, Peto’s team specifically showed that there is little connection between Ct scores and infectiousness. “It appeared people who were positive after vaccination had the same viral load as the unvaccinated. We thought they were just as infectious. But it turns out you are less infectious,” says Peto. “That’s quite important. People were over-pessimistic.”

Yet another line of evidence comes from a study by Brooke. His team took samples from 23 people every day after they first tested positive until the infection cleared and performed tests, including trying to infect cells in a dish with the samples.

With five out of the six fully vaccinated people, none of the samples were infectious, unlike most from unvaccinated people. The study shows that vaccinated people shed fewer viruses and also stop shedding sooner than unvaccinated people, says Brooke.

The one bit of bad news is that Peto’s study shows that the protection a vaccine provides against an infected person infecting others does wane over time, by around a quarter over the three months after a second vaccine dose. “This has made me a believer in boosters,” he says. “They ought to get on with it, given that we are in the middle of a major outbreak [in the UK].”


China problems: Europe and US face magnesium supply crisis

China's state-run tabloid Global Times says it is "unrealistic" for China to meet the urgent demand for magnesium from Europe, where stocks of the raw material could run out next month.

The paper said the magnesium shortage was not a simple issue that could be resolved by increasing production from China. "Global supply chains face challenges of climate change targets, high inflation and logistics obstacles," it noted in an editorial on Monday.

"China's efforts to tackle these challenges at its own pace are responsible and should be respected.

"It is essential to establish an economic and trade consultation mechanism on the supply chain between China and the EU [European Union]."

The European market is almost entirely (95 per cent) dependent on China for the supply of magnesium, a key ingredient in aluminium, which is used to make cars and in building supplies, among other things. Magnesium is also used in iron and steel producing.

Last Friday, a dozen industry groups issued a joint statement to urge European leaders to work towards immediate actions with their Chinese counterparts to mitigate the critical shortage issue.

"Supply of magnesium originating from China has either been halted or reduced drastically since September 2021, resulting in an international supply crisis of unprecedented magnitude," they said.

"This issue, if not resolved, threatens thousands of businesses across Europe, their entire supply chains and the millions of jobs that rely on them."

The remaining magnesium stocks in Europe were trading at $US10,000-$US14,000 a tonne, up from around $US2,000 per tonne earlier this year, the industry groups said.

The European Commission has reportedly been holding talks with China to resolve the shortage.

"Europe has none of its own supply and relies on China for imports," analysts at investment bank Morgan Stanley noted.

"With limited vessel availability and shipping times of at least two months, Europe could see limited supply until May."

Although the US is less reliant on China for magnesium, its aluminium producers are facing a similar supply issue. The largest US aluminium billet maker, Matalco, has warned of an upcoming output reduction, while the largest US raw aluminium producer, Alcoa, has expressed concerns about magnesium scarcity, Bloomberg reported.

China produces around 87 per cent of the world's magnesium, but that has been affected by the country's recent power crisis.

The Chinese government has been trying to curb domestic power consumption and regulate soaring electricity prices. Many magnesium plants have been either shut down or halved their production capacities due to the power cuts. Chinese state media has reported that China's magnesium exports are likely to drop 10 per cent this year.

"Magnesium production is the latest victim of China's power crunch as well as the government's increasingly hardline approach to emission reduction," Peter Cai, a China analyst from the Lowy Institute, told the ABC.

"Authorities are shutting down [power] plants to meet their emission reduction target."

China is still one of the world's largest carbon emitters, but President Xi Jinping is aiming for the country's CO2 emissions to peak before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

A magnesium shortage could have widespread impacts across autos, aerospace, iron or steel, chemicals, beer and soft drinks, and consumer goods.

Morgan Stanley analysts noted that many lightweight alloys relied on magnesium. "Magnesium's light weight and strengthening properties make it essential for aluminium alloys (eg sheet used in autos, beverage cans)," they wrote.

"It is also used for die-casting auto parts, as a desulphurising agent in steel, to make ductile iron, in chemicals and more."

While the analysts noted that there had been some production recovery in October, utilisation was capped at 40 per cent of capacity and that still created a big challenge for the global market.

Car-makers are set to be particularly hard hit, as they still struggle with shortages of computer chips.

"Depressed auto production levels have been masking the extent of the impact of the existing shortages; it may not be possible for auto production to recover as forecasters such as IHS anticipate."




What Really Happened in Wuhan

Award-winning journalist Sharri Markson spent more than a year investigating the potential leak of the virus from a top-secret laboratory in Wuhan.

Ms Markson uncovered evidence of a widespread cover-up and unpacks the new theory that “patient zero” worked in the Wuhan lab.

Sky News Australia anchor and Investigations Writer at The Australian, Sharri has been at the forefront of investigating the origins of COVID-19 since early in 2020 when the virus spread globally. Since that time, the precise genesis of COVID-19 has been hotly contested, with scientists, government officials, the World Health Organization, and the Chinese authorities releasing conflicting reports.

In a coup for Australian television, Sharri secures the first sit-down interview for an Australian broadcast media outlet with Donald Trump since he was elected president in 2016.

Sharri also speaks with a range of Chinese whistle-blowers, scientists, and high-ranking intelligence officials to bring us closer to discovering the truth of what happened in Wuhan.

These include John Ratcliffe, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence from 2020 to 2021, and former head of British intelligence service, Mi6, Sir Richard Dearlove.


How did Florida end up with one of the best COVID-19 case and death rates in the US despite Gov Ron DeSantis refusing to implement mask or vaccine mandates?

Just two months ago, Florida was experiencing the worst COVID-19 surge in the United States. The Sunshine State had the highest seven-day average of cases per day as well as the highest hospitalization rate in the country.

Despite these grim metrics, Governor Ron DeSantis did not issue new lockdowns, closures or stay-at-home orders, arguing that the spike was due to a seasonal pattern of the virus and urging residents to get vaccinated.

Now, with Halloween and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the Covid crisis looks really different in Florida. Inexplicably, cases and deaths have been going down despite DeSantis implementing no new mitigation measures.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show Florida is recording one of the best case and death rates in the country.

This is similar to what's been seen nationwide as Covid-related infections and fatalities in the U.S. drop to the lowest levels recorded since April 2021.

Additionally, the state is doing just as well as California, despite the West Coast State taking a very strict approach including implementing mask mandates, limiting gatherings and closings bars and indoor dining at restaurants.

Experts say Covid waves usually occur in a two-month cycle - with infections rising for two months before declining - and instead of trying to prevent the cycle from occurring, DeSantis just let it ride out.

The declining rates could change as Floridians head inside for the winter months, potentially causing cases to rise again, but, as of now, it seems like Florida's downward trends will only continue.

In mid-August, the COVID-19 crisis perhaps looked no more dire than in Florida. The state reached a record-high 26,000 Covid cases reported in one day or about 101 cases per 100,000 people. This is 44 percent higher than the previous peak of 18,000 cases per day recorded in January 2021, according to CDC data.

During this time, there were 17,200 COVID-19 hospitalizations - three-fold higher than the 5,700 seen just one month earlier. Additionally, Florida reported a record-high 227 deaths per day in mid-August or 1.77 per 100,000.

However, Governor DeSantis defended himself against critics and told Fox News in an interview on August 26 that the state was having 'great success' treating COVID-19 patients early with monoclonal antibodies.

He also slammed President Joe Biden for failing to end the pandemic. 'You know, he said he was going to end Covid. He hasn't done that,' DeSantis told host Jesse Watters. 'At the end of the day, he is trying to find a way to distract from the failures of his presidency.'

At the time, doctors and public health experts said that DeSantis's laissez-faire approach was a gamble, but it appears to have paid off.

CDC data show Florida is recording 64 cases per 100,000 people in a week or nine cases per 100,000 people per day as of Wednesday.

This means the The Sunshine State has the best case rate in the country behind California, Mississippi, Hawaii and Alabama, respectively.

Currently, California recording 28 cases per 100,000 people in a week or three cases per 100,000 people per day.

The same curve can be seen with Covid deaths. Florida is recording 0.2 deaths per 100,000 people in a week - making it the second best state in the nation. It is behind only California and New Mexico, which are recording 0.1 death per 100,000 people in a week.

Both of these metrics are despite DeSantis refusing to allow business and schools from implementing mask and vaccine mandates.

This is similar to what has been seen in the U.S. with the recent Delta variant-fueled surge.

On September 1, America was averaging 49.9 cases per 100,000. As of Wednesday, this has dropped to 21.2 cases per 100,000.

So does the governor deserve all the credit for Florida's improvement? Not necessarily.

These declines seem to follow a familiar two-month cycle since the pandemic began in early 2020 with cases and deaths increasing for about two months before declining, according to David Leonhardt of The New York Times.

Early explanations - such as the virus being seasonal like the flu or compliance of mask wearing and social distancing increasing and decreasing - have not held up.

However, more logical explanations include that as people have contracted COVID-19 over the last two months, the virus is (slowly) running out of people to infect.

'Since the pandemic began, Covid has often followed a regular - if mysterious - cycle. In one country after another, the number of new cases has often surged for roughly two months before starting to fall,' Leonhardt wrote.

'The Delta variant, despite its intense contagiousness, has followed this pattern.' This means a variant may only need eight weeks to spread throughout a community before it begins to recede.

During the summer 2020 surge in the U.S., cases began rising in early July before declining again in early September.

What's more, during the winter 2020-21 surge, Covid infections steeply increased in late November 2020 only to fall again in late January 2021.

It seems that what has occurred on a nationwide scale is what occurred on a much smaller scale in Florida.

The recent surge saw cases starting to rise in the Sunshine State in early July and declining in mid-September, following the two month-schedule.

And it's not the only state: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas, all of which saw cases surge during the recent fourth wave, have seen declines since early September.


CDC Director Suggests Re-Education Camps For Unvaccinated Now!

One would think that after close to two years of COVID being here that the irrational fear would begin to subside. However, that is not the case as power-grabbing leftists have found the proverbial magic bullet to convince millions of Americans to hand over the freedoms and rights for a false sense of security.

Instead of these government officials taking their gas off the pedal toward tyranny, they are doubling down and pushing for more.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky is the one who dropped this bit of knowledge on the American people when she appeared on FOX News Sunday and spoke with Chris Wallace.

Walensky addressed vaccine hesitancy among law enforcement and government workers.

She then went on to BRAG, yes brag about coercing and threatening people’s livelihoods to feed their families for increased COVID-19 jab uptake.

Wallace then asked Walensky how she plans to convince millions of Americans who refuse to get the jab, roll up their sleeves and take it.

The CDC director then claimed that COVID-19 is responsible for more deaths amongst police than all other causes combined in the last 1.5 years, Walensky made a peculiar statement.

Education & counseling for those who refuse an experimental injection?

What exactly does Walensky mean by that? Perhaps re-education camps?


70 Percent of COVID-19 Deaths Both in Sweden and UK in September Were “Fully Vaccinated”

Government data revealed that in September, 70% of COVID-19 deaths both in Sweden and the UK were “fully vaccinated” individuals.

Swedish Public Health Agency reported that 70% of Covid 19 deaths involved “fully vaccinated” individuals between Sept. 1 and Sept. 24, according to Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. The country recorded about 130 fatal Covid cases during that period.

Possible reasons for the uptick in vaccinated deaths include “that it has now been quite a while since the oldest ones were vaccinated, that the vaccine coverage has increased, that the restrictions have been eased, and that the Delta strain has taken over,” microbiology researcher Farshid Jalalvand told the paper.

Sweden’s death numbers crashed after health officials scaled back restrictions at the beginning of June, however, with virtually no COVID fatalities reported in the Scandinavian country throughout July and August. Deaths began to climb again by mid-September, by which time nearly 75 percent of Swedes older than 16 were “fully vaccinated.”

Despite Sweden’s mass vaccination campaign, the recent surge in infections has led to the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Swedish senior care residents since February.

UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) released a COVID-19 vaccine surveillance report on October 7 that showed most COVID-19 deaths in UK were among the “fully vaccinated” individuals, as were most hospitalizations in September.

Between September 6 and October 3, 70 percent of deadly COVID cases occurred in the fully-jabbed, according to the UKHSA data, with 2,281 deaths in “fully vaccinated” people and just 611 in the unvaccinated within 28 days of a positive test. Partially vaccinated people accounted for 98 deaths.

The COVID-19 fatalities among “fully vaccinated” Brits represented a dramatic increase from August, The Exposé observed. Public Health England last month had reported 600 coronavirus deaths in the unvaccinated population between August 9 and September 5 and 1,659 in the doubly-vaccinated.

The latest UKSHA figures also showed that vaccinated patients dominated COVID-19 hospitalizations. 3,910 “fully vaccinated” people were admitted to the hospital for COVID between September 6 and October 3, compared with around 2,400 unvaccinated patients. The fully or partially vaccinated together accounted for roughly 64 percent of total COVID-related hospitalizations.

Other Western countries saw an increase in cases and deaths with “fully vaccinated” individuals including the United States. The Gateway Pundit previously reported Former CDC Director Robert Redfield claimed that more than 40 percent of people who have died from the coronavirus in the state of Maryland over the last 6-8 weeks were fully vaccinated.




Thursday, October 28, 2021

FDA advised to authorise Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for US children aged five to 11

An expert panel has voted overwhelmingly to recommend the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorise the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, saying the benefits of inoculation outweigh the risks.

The vaccine, could be made available to those younger children in the US as early as next week. The FDA is not obliged to follow the advice of its outside experts, but usually does.

If the FDA authorises the shots for this age group, an advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet next week to make a recommendation on the administration of the vaccine.

Pfizer and BioNTech, the companies behind the vaccine, have said the shot was 90.7 per cent effective against coronavirus in a clinical trial of children aged five to 11.

While children becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID-19 is relatively rare compared with adults, some develop complications, and infections in unvaccinated children have risen due to the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Amanda Cohn, a paediatric vaccine expert at the CDC and a voting member of the panel, said the question was "pretty clear". "We don't want children to be dying of COVID, even if it is far fewer children than adults, and we don't want them in the ICU," she said.

Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking clearance for a lower, 10-microgram dose of the vaccine in children, versus 30 micrograms for those aged 12 and older.

The advisers paid close attention to the rate of a heart inflammation, called myocarditis, that has been linked to both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, particularly in young men.

If the number of myocarditis cases in the younger age group was similar to that in 12 to 15-year-olds, the hospitalisations prevented for COVID-19 would outnumber those prevented for myocarditis in most scenarios analysed, FDA staff reviewers said.


Children Shouldn’t Get COVID-19 Vaccines, Harvard Professor Says

Children should not get vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19, according to Harvard University professor of medicine Martin Kulldorff.

“I don’t think children should be vaccinated for COVID. I’m a huge fan of vaccinating children for measles, for mumps, for polio, for rotavirus, and many other diseases, that’s critical. But COVID is not a huge threat to children,” he said on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program. The full episode can be watched on EpochTV.

“They can be infected, just like they can get the common cold, but they’re not a big threat. They don’t die from this, except in very rare circumstances. So if you want to talk about protecting children or keeping children safe, I think we can talk about traffic accidents, for example, which they are really at some risk.

“And there are other things that we should make sure [of] to keep children safe. But COVID is not a big risk factor for children.”

Vaccinating older people and people of all ages with compromised immune systems against the coronavirus has drawn support from most medical experts. But vaccinating healthy young people, particularly children, has triggered more opposition, in part because of how little risk COVID-19 poses to them.

Children are more likely to contract serious disease or die from the annual influenza, or the flu, than COVID-19, according to data and studies that Kulldorff has reviewed. Just 195 children under the age of 4 and 442 between 5 and 18 have died from COVID-19 in the United States as of Oct. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children are 15 times less likely to be hospitalized with the disease than individuals who are 85 or older, and 570 times less likely to die, the agency says.

“One example is from Sweden, during the first wave in the spring of 2020, which affected Sweden quite strongly,” Kulldorff said. “But Sweden decided to keep daycare and schools open for all children ages 1 to 15. And there are 1.8 million such children who got through the first wave without vaccines, of course, without masks, without any sort of distancing in schools.

“If a child was sick, they were told to stay home. But that was basically it. And you know how many of those 1.8 million children died from COVID? Zero. Only a few hospitalizations. So this is not a risky disease for children.”

When weighing whether to vaccinate children, the risk of vaccine side effects must also be taken into account, Kulldorff said. The main risk to young people seen so far is heart inflammation, which has occurred post-vaccination at much higher than expected rates. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) added a warning label to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines over the summer about myocarditis and pericarditis, two types of heart inflammation.

“If you’re 78 years old, then it’s the no-brainer, in my view, because the benefits are so great that even if you have a small risk for some adverse reaction, the benefit far outweighs the risk,” Kulldorff said. “On the other hand, if you have already have immunity from having had COVID, then the benefits of the vaccines are much, much smaller. If you’re a child, even if you haven’t had COVID, the risk of serious disease or death is minuscule … So it’s not at all clear that the benefits outweigh the risks for children.”

Kulldorff was speaking ahead of an FDA advisory panel meeting. Members on Oct. 26 decided to advise drug regulators to authorize Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children between 5 and 11. They said the benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as the predicted decrease in hospitalizations, outweighed the risks, including estimated incidence of myocarditis.


Moderna says COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective in children

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children ages 6 to 12 years, the company announced on Monday (Oct. 25).

The findings are part of a clinical trial on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine in around 5,700 children between the ages of 6 months and 12 years; More than 4,700 children between the ages of 6 and 12 years participated in the study and were given two doses of the vaccine 28 days apart, but at half the dose (50 µg) given to adults (100 µg).

The researchers found that the vaccine at this dose was "well tolerated," and side effects were similar to what was seen in adolescents and adults, according to a statement. The majority of adverse events were mild or moderate; and the most common side effects were fatigue, headache, fever and injection site pain, the company said.

They also found that the vaccine prompted a "strong immune response" one month after the second dose; children in this age group had 1.5 times higher antibody levels than those observed in young adults, the company said.

Moderna previously submitted data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get authorization for use of its vaccine in people ages 12 to 17, but the agency hasn't yet responded to the request. The company now plans to also submit this new data to the FDA and other regulatory agencies around the world.

Meanwhile, the researchers will continue to monitor the participants for 12 months after their second dose to assess long-term protection and safety.

Currently, Moderna is approved for those who are 18 years or older, while Pfizer is approved for those 12 years and older. Pfizer has already submitted a request to the FDA to authorize its vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, Live Science previously reported.


Vaccine Mandate Threatens Major Trucking Disruption, Industry Insiders Say

American truckers don’t like taking orders. But the Biden administration has increased pressure on some of them to take the vaccine—willing or unwilling.

All through the pandemic, truckers endured hardships to keep America’s infrastructure running. They waited in line for hours in sight of bathrooms they weren’t allowed to use. On the road, some died alone of COVID-19.

Now, with supply chains disrupted, Americans need them more than ever. But faced with the prospect of mandated vaccination, many drivers are considering quitting.

“I’d fight it,” said veteran trucker Mike Widdins, referring to a vaccine mandate. “I think a lot of us will be quitting. Who likes to be forced to do stuff you don’t want to do?”

Widdins isn’t alone in his willingness to leave trucking if he’s required to vaccinate. Polls by trucking publications Commercial Carrier Journal and OverDrive indicate that up to 30 percent of truckers will seriously consider quitting if required to vaccinate. If they quit, the consequences for America may be massive. US Transport estimates that 70 percent of American freight goes by truck.

“It would hurt shipping big-time,” Widdins said.

President Joe Biden ordered his administration to mandate vaccines for private companies with over 100 employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was charged with developing the rule, and the Office of Budget and Management is currently reviewing it. The review process can take as long as 90 days.

Most of the trucking industry consists of companies with fewer than 100 employees, though a significant portion would fall under the over-100-employee umbrella.

Most truck companies have six trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Some experts say the selective reach of the mandate makes it ineffective. Barbara Smithers, vice president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association, told The Epoch Times via email that it makes little sense to “cherry-pick” who to vaccinate based on company size.

“Truck drivers spend most of their work hours alone in the cab of a truck—literally one of the safest places possible during a pandemic—so why do they need to be regulated in this way?” she said. “Testing hundreds of thousands of truck drivers moving across the country every day is a virtual impossibility.”

For mandate-affected companies, Biden’s decision may drive away employees at a time when America needs them most. The American Trucking Associations estimates that America needs 80,000 more truckers to meet transportation needs.

Whether America runs short on trucks depends on the Biden administration’s orders and how truckers respond.

In the eyes of drivers, Biden’s mandate is the last step in a long line of restrictions that don’t consider their needs or wants.

For many drivers, a vaccine mandate may prove to be the final straw. Some drivers don’t trust the vaccine because of how new it is. Some distrust it for personal medical reasons. Others distrust it because they don’t trust the government.




Tuesday, October 26, 2021

CDC Director Reaffirms Forcing Vaccinated Children to Remain Masked, Dodges Question on Vaccine Mandates

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) made numerous Sunday show appearances this week, where she dodged questions on vaccine mandates and when children can stop having to wear masks in school.

While on NBC's "Meet the Press," Dr. Walensky was asked by host Andrea Mitchell about masking at school once children have been vaccinated:


What is your advice to parents and to schools regarding lifting mask mandates in schools once children are vaccinated?


You know, our case numbers are coming down, and that is so encouraging. We still have 75,000 new cases a day of Covid, and we are still having death rates of about 1,200 to 1,500 deaths per day. As we roll out these vaccines for our children, and we are hopeful that we will be able to, it's also critically important that our kids are able to stay in school. We saw just a couple of weeks ago new science that demonstrated that schools that masked had three and a half times less likelihood of having outbreaks than schools that didn't. And so in my mind, the most important thing right now as we work to get our cases down, as we work to get our children vaccinated, is that we continue the masking to keep our kids in school.

Walensky and Mitchell had just been discussing how there will be an FDA advisory on Tuesday when it comes to vaccinating children ages 5-11 years old.

Such a non-answer is particularly troubling and disappointing because she had been given an opportunity to clarify her remarks from last Wednesday, but refused to take it. As Katie reported, Dr. Walenksy during a press briefing gave a disturbing directive that children will still need to wear masks at school.

"After we have authorization from FDA and recommendations from CDC, we will be working to scale up pediatric vaccination. That said, it will take some time. And as I just noted, as we head into these winter months, we know we cannot be complacent," the director said. "We are going to continue to recommend masks in all schools for all people in those schools, and we will look forward to scaling up pediatric vaccination during this period of time."

The following day, Katie also covered remarks from Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who said the data that children need to be masked is "very weak," saying that it is so weak "is a fact."

Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R-FL) executive order against schools issuing mask mandates is tied up in the courts, though a judge is set to decide soon. Schools are considering easing their mask mandates as cases drop, which they have been doing significantly in Florida.

The governor had issued his executive order in late July after consulting with experts in the field.

Mitchell also asked Walensky "did you move too soon on that? Was that a mistake?" with regards to telling people last May that they are safe if they're not wearing a mask and have been vaccinated. The direct provided another non-answer:

You know, that was at a time of the Alpha variant when vaccinated people if they were a breakthrough infection could not transmit the Alpha variant to someone else. This is really an opportunity to understand that we have to be humble with the science and to move with the science. As we have learned with this Delta variant, it's a different variant, it's a more transmissible variant, and it behaves differently in the context of breakthrough infection. So at the time, that's what the science told us we could do. We are in a very different moment with a very different variant.

It's not just Dr. Lapado who is concerned with masking children. As Emily DeCiccio reported for CNBC, Dr. Joseph Allen, who is an associate professor at Harvard University, during a Friday appearance on "The News with Shepard Smith" urged an easing of mask mandates for children.

As DeCiccio wrote:

“We have to be careful that, if we don’t set firm deadlines, it’s easy to see how we can sleepwalk into indefinite masking,” said Allen during a Friday evening interview on CNBC’s “The News with Shepard Smith.” “With the approval of vaccines, expected very shortly, for 5 to 11-year-olds, it makes sense that we should no longer have mask mandates in schools.”

Allen also highlighted that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set metrics for masking for adults, the agency has “inexplicably” failed to set metrics on when kids can take away masks.

The CDC did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Dr. Allen does believe the best way to protect children from the virus is by vaccinating them, as well as adults, and is in favor of vaccine mandates for teachers. "We should be mandating vaccines for all adults in schools," he said.

While on "Fox News Sunday," Dr. Walensky was asked by host Chris Wallace if she was "still full speed ahead on mandates for essential workers to get vaccinated." She refused to directly answer, though:

We have seen that these mandates are getting more and more people vaccinated. Here's what we know. The most disruptive thing that you can do to a workforce is to have a covert outbreak and not workforce. That was definitely not only send people home but send people to the hospital and some may pass. What we know from the police workforce is there have been more deaths from the coronavirus over the last year and a half than all other causes of death for that workforce combined. So we believe it is very important to get these people vaccinated. There is a plan, should these people not want to be vaccinated, towards education and counseling to get people the information they need so that they are feeling comfortable in getting vaccinated.

President Joe Biden last month signed an executive order mandating federal workers be vaccinated.


Here's Why You Should Resist Mask Mandates

Many Americans have been taught to believe that masks work—at least a little—and that wearing them comes at a minimal cost. Nearly the opposite is true.

The best scientific evidence invites a far less rosy assessment of masks’ effectiveness than is broadcast by public health officials. In its worldwide impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the worst in a century. As a threat to Americans’ health, however, it is closer to the 1968 Hong Kong flu or the 1957 Asian flu—neither of which noticeably altered Americans’ everyday lives—than to the 1918 Spanish flu.

In a head-to-head comparison, COVID-19 makes the Spanish flu look like the Black Death of medieval Europe. According to the best available figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and elsewhere, the typical American under the age of 40 in 1918 was more than 100 times as likely to die of the Spanish flu than the typical American under the age of 40 in 2020 was to die of COVID-19.

Whereas COVID-19 sadly shortened the lives of many older people already in poor health, the Spanish flu took people in the prime of life and left orphans in its wake.

The Spread of Public Health Officials

Americans’ reaction to COVID-19, however, has been radically different from their behavior in 1968, 1957, or even 1918. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the Hoover Institution’s Niall Ferguson recalls that President Dwight Eisenhower asked Congress for $2.5 million in additional funding for the Public Health Service during the Asian flu. Overall, Congress has authorized about 2 million times that much for COVID-19.

In 1957, there were no widespread school closures, travel bans, or mask mandates. Ferguson quotes one person’s recollection of those days: “For those who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing unusual about finding yourself threatened by contagious disease. Mumps, measles, chickenpox, and German measles swept through entire schools and towns; I had all four…. We took the Asian flu in stride.”

One major difference between then and now is the increased role of public health officials. Long before their ascension, Socrates made clear in Plato’s Republic that he did not want doctors to rule. Philosophers or even poets would be better governors of society because they at least attempt to understand political and social life in its entirety and minister to the human soul.

Doctors, by contrast, tend to disregard the soul: it is the nature of their art to focus on the body in lieu of higher concerns. Moreover, Greek philosophers and poets alike celebrated courage in the face of death—Plato’s Socrates and Homer’s Achilles were undeterred from their noble missions by fear of the grave. But rule by public health officials, under which we increasingly live today, encourages excessive risk-aversion and almost transforms cowardice into a virtue.

Wear the Mask, Neanderthal

Surgical masks were designed to protect patients’ wounds from becoming infected by medical personnel, not to prevent the spread of viruses. When COVID-19 hit our shores, the CDC initially recommended that most Americans not wear masks.

On April 3, 2020, the CDC abruptly reversed this position. Surgeon General Jerome Adams explained that “new evidence” had revealed that “a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms” and “can transmit the virus to others before they show symptoms” (emphasis added).

As a rationale for wearing masks, this did not entirely make sense. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “potentially pre-symptomatic transmission…is a major driver of transmission for influenza.”

Yet the CDC does not (yet) recommend that seemingly healthy people wear masks during flu season. It seems likely that the CDC panicked in April and wanted to be seen as doing something. Plus, public health officials are naturally enthusiastic about public health interventions.

The day after the CDC endorsed nationwide mask-wearing, President Trump announced, “I won’t be doing it personally.” From that instant, the mask quickly became a symbol of civic virtue—a sort of Black Lives Matter flag that could be hung from one’s face. For many it conveyed a trio of virtues: I’m unselfish; I’m pro-science; I’m anti-Trump.

What it also conveyed, incidentally, was a rejection of longstanding Western norms, unhealthy risk-aversion, credulous willingness to embrace unsupported health claims and a pallid view of human interaction.

Masking the Science

The most reliable science on whether masks are effective in stopping the transmission of viruses comes from randomized control trials (RCTs), almost all of which were conducted before COVID-19 began.

Randomized control trials have found little to no evidence that masks work to prevent viral transmission—either from the wearer to others or vice versa. In fact, some significant evidence from RCTs indicates that masks increase transmission.

A 2020 study by Professor Henning Bundgaard and his team in Denmark is the only RCT that has tested the effectiveness of mask-wearing against COVID-19. It found that 1.8 percent of those participants in the group wearing masks, and 2.1percent of those in the unmasked control group, became infected with COVID-19 within a month. This difference was not statistically significant. The study must have had difficulty getting published since it appeared months after it was conducted.

In attempting to justify its mask guidance on its website, the CDC has relied almost entirely on observational studies while studiously disregarding RCTs.

Anyone who thinks the CDC is an impartial, politically neutral agency, dedicated solely to the pursuit of scientific truth, should perhaps consider the recent e-mail evidence that the teachers union and Joe Biden’s White House effectively rewrote sections of the agency’s return-to-school guidance.

Like so many unelected leaders, CDC officials consider themselves more accountable to “stakeholders” than to the American people. Legislatures have largely been AWOL during the coronavirus period, while public health officials and executive branch leaders have reveled in their newfound powers.




Monday, October 25, 2021

Yale Study: Natural Immunity Protects Against COVID Three Times Longer Than Vaccine

To their dismay, the Yale School of Public Health just concluded that immunity acquired by COVID-19 infection lasts three times longer and is stronger than that provided by vaccination. Naturally, the Yale Daily News downplayed the info under the headline, “COVID-19 reinfection is likely among unvaccinated individuals, Yale study finds.”

The Yale study concluded that the risk of COVID-19 reinfection stands at 5% at three months after recovery and decreases to 50% at 17 months. By contrast, COVID-19 vaccine protection against infection can wane to a mere 20% as early as five months after full vaccination. Now, I may not be a Fauci-approved Scientist, but I’m also not stupid.

The Yale study joins the ever-growing compendium of studies that attest to the superiority of natural immunity over-vaccination for protection from COVID infection. It’s worth clicking over to the linked article because you probably had no idea there was already so much Science! proving the point.

Here are a few highlights from the Blaze Media listicle by Daniel Horowitz:

New York University, May 3, 2021

The authors studied the contrast between vaccine immunity and immunity from prior infection as it relates to stimulating the innate T-cell immunity, which is more durable than adaptive immunity through antibodies alone. They concluded, “In COVID-19 patients, immune responses were characterized by a highly augmented interferon response which was largely absent in vaccine recipients.”

Cleveland Clinic, June 19, 2021

In a study of 1,359 previously infected health care workers in the Cleveland Clinic system, not a single one of them was reinfected 10 months into the pandemic, despite some of these individuals being around COVID-positive patients more than the regular population.

Israeli researchers, August 22, 2021

Aside from more robust T cell and memory B cell immunity, which is more important than antibody levels, Israeli researchers found that antibodies wane slower among those with prior infection. “In vaccinated subjects, antibody titers decreased by up to 40% each subsequent month while in convalescents they decreased by less than 5% per month.”

Irish researchers, published in Wiley Review, May 18, 2021

Researchers conducted a review of 11 cohort studies with over 600,000 total recovered COVID patients who were followed up with over 10 months. The key finding? Unlike the vaccine, after about four to six months, they found “no study reporting an increase in the risk of reinfection over time.”

I could link these all day, but I’m sure we both have other things to do. The point is that the Science! is more consensus-y every day: those who have already recovered from a COVID infection—even a mild or asymptomatic one—have naturally superior protection from future infection than those who are merely vaccinated, and are also safer to be around than people who have been vaccinated but never had an infection.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t get vaccinated if you already had COVID, especially if you are tolerant of the vaccine’s side effects. According to the experts, you would be even better protected than people who are either only naturally immune or only vaccinated. But if you have recovered from an infection, you’re manifestly as safe as if you were only vaccinated.

Clearly, it’s time for public safety policy to recognize natural immunity as equal to vaccination.

Of course, the government-pharma complex isn’t going to give up its advantage without a fight. Big Pharma has a lock on all that sweet vaccine cash, and our leaders simply love their hot new emergency powers. But cracks are finally appearing in the “crisis” power apparatus. The more Americans insist we Follow the Science™ and grant equal rights to the naturally immune, the faster this much-needed transformation can occur.


Sweden extends pause of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in young people under 30 due to concerns the shot causes rare heart inflammation

Swedish health officials are extending the pause of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine in young people over continued concerns that the shot causes rare heart inflammation cases.

The pause was initially supposed to last until December 1, but will now last beyond that to a date that is yet to be announced.

Sweden is one of four Nordic nations that restricted the use of the jab in young people this month, with a fifth, Norway, also discouraging younger males from getting the Moderna shot.

Despite the concerns arising about the vaccine in Europe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stood by its authorization of the shots, and even authorized booster shots of the vaccine earlier this week.

Sweden paused usage of the Moderna COVID-19 shot in everyone born after 1990 earlier this month.

The decision came after health officials viewed data that found the shots were causing cases of myocarditis in young people who got the vaccine.

Sweden's Public Health Agency says that the unpublished data signals 'an increased risk of side effects such as inflammation of the heart muscle or the pericardium' - the double-walled sac containing the heart and the roots of the main vessels. It added: 'The risk of being affected is very small.'

That data is still not publicly available.

Denmark followed Sweden's lead, and restricted access to the vaccine to anyone under the age of 18 as well.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said earlier this month that authorities won't give the vaccine to males under age 30, and they will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech immunization instead, also citing the heart inflammation data.

Iceland also paused use of the vaccine citing concerns from the same data.

Norway, another Nordic country, has not taken as drastic action as its neighbors, with health officials urging people under 30 to opt for the Pfizer vaccine instead.

Myocarditis and pericarditis, both types of inflammation of the heart, are known side effects of the Covid vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even warns that the condition may develop in young males after vaccination.

Heart inflammation is also a symptom of many viral infections like COVID-19, though, and the likelihood of developing the inflammation after infection is much higher than it is after vaccination.

Those conditions involve an inflammation of the heart or its lining.

On Thursday, data on the Moderna vaccines likelihood to cause heart inflammation was presented to a CDC advisory panel.

The presentation showed that males were much more likely to develop the condition than females - with those aged 18 to 24 at most risk, and the 25 to 29 group at risk as well.

The second dose of the vaccine is also the one that usually causes the condition.

Myocarditis risk falls off after age 30, though.

The data also shows that people who receive the Moderna shot are more likely to develop myocarditis.

For every one million doses of the Moderna shot administered, there are 13.3 more cases of myocarditis detected compared to every one million of the Pfizer jab. The reason for this is now yet known. The increased risk seems to appear for both males and females.

'The connection is especially clear when it comes to Moderna's vaccine Spikevax, especially after the second dose,' the Swedish health agency said.

A Moderna spokesperson said in an email last week that the company was aware of the decisions by regulators in Denmark and Sweden to pause the use of its vaccine in younger individuals because of the rare risk of myocarditis and or pericarditis.

'These are typically mild cases and individuals tend to recover within a short time following standard treatment and rest,' they wrote.

'The risk of myocarditis is substantially increased for those who contract COVID-19, and vaccination is the best way to protect against this.'

According to one U.S. study that has yet to undergo peer review, young males under age 20 are up to six times more likely to develop myocarditis after contracting COVID-19 than those who have been vaccinated.

Denmark said that, while it used the Pfizer vaccine as its main option for people aged 12 to 17 years, it had decided to pause giving the Moderna vaccine to people below 18 according to a 'precautionary principle'.

In June, the CDC issued a warning that young males were at an increased risk of myocarditis after receiving the vaccine.

The label for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were changed in the U.S. to reflect the warning, though usage was never paused.

Cases of inflammation after vaccination are rare, though they do occur often enough to concern regulators.

A recent study from Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that around seven out of every one million people that receive a two-shot COVID-19 vaccine will develop myocarditis.

The same study found that 47.5 out of every one million Covid patients experience heart inflammation.

While myocarditis will often resolve itself, it can be dangerous. Heart inflammation can often lead to fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain for patients. People with inflamed hearts are at a higher risk for heart failure, heart attacks and strokes.

Attempting strenuous physical activity with an inflamed heart could also potentially lead to sudden cardiac arrest, or even death.



Biden says police officers and first responders should be fired for refusing jab exercising individual liberty (Fox News)

Friendly fire fact-check: Biden overstates his record on COVID vaccine (AP)

Merrick Garland grilled on Loudoun County case, says he “doesn’t know” about alleged hellacious assault by boy in girls’ bathroom (Daily Wire)

“I’m comfortable with zero”: Joe Manchin reportedly willing to tank reconciliation to avoid overspending (Daily Caller)

Scranton Joe keeps telling bizarre Amtrak story that was already debunked (Fox News)

House votes to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress (New York Post)

Federal Reserve imposes new restrictions on investments after trading controversy (NPR)

NIH admits to funding gain-of-function research in Wuhan but disingenuously blames EcoHealth for violating reporting requirements (National Review

Afghan placed in Montana by Biden administration charged with raping teen (Daily Wire)

Once again, COVID hospitalizations are increasing in the North, declining in the South (National Review)

Bunch of liars: Email from Loudoun County superintendent alerted school board on day of bathroom assault (WTOP)

Man who allegedly dressed as woman charged with child porn, reportedly used pen cameras laced into sneakers (Daily Wire)

“We’re hiring”: Indiana invites Chicago cops to move to state (Daily Wire)

Policy: What is the root cause of our supply chain problems? (Daily Signal)




Sunday, October 24, 2021

Pfizer says its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective against infection in children aged 5-11

Pfizer-BioNTech says their COVID-19 vaccine is about 91 percent effective against infection in elementary school-aged children.

Details of the study were posted online on Friday as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers expanding Covid vaccinations to youngsters between ages five and 11.

If federal regulators give the go ahead, shots could begin rolling out early next month, meaning the first children in line could be fully inoculated by Christmas.

Parents have been split 50/50 over vaccinating children because kids rarely get severely ill and make up less than 0.1 percent of all Covid deaths in the U.S.

According to, Pfizer recruited 2,268 children between ages five and 11 for the study. About half of the kids were given two doses 21 days apart and the other half were given placebo shots.

The team then tested the safety, tolerability and immune response generated by the vaccine by measuring antibody levels in the young subjects.

Pfizer said it had selected lower doses for COVID-19 vaccine trials in children than are given to teenagers and adults.

Those aged 12 and older receive two 30 microgram (μg) doses of the vaccine. However, children between ages five and 11 were given 10 μg doses - one-third of the size given to adolescents and adults.

Sixteen children who received the placebo contracted COVID-19 compared with three in the vaccinated group - while Pfizer said equates to 90.7 percent efficacy.

In the vaccination group, one participant each had two, three and four Covid symptoms.

Comparatively, in the placebo group, half of the pediatric patients had five or more symptoms.

No life-threatening adverse events were reported with the most common side effect being pain at the injection site, reported in more than 70 percent of kids.

This is about equal with the up to 83 percent of 16-to-25-year-olds in the adult clinical trial who reported the same thing.

Other common side effects included fatigue, headache and redness/swelling at the site of injection.


Why even fully vaccinated older people are at high risk for severe COVID-19

Many factors weaken the aging immune system. But vaccines—and booster doses—do offer protection from hospitalization and death.

Mounting data suggest that older people are at higher risk of severe disease from a breakthrough infection of COVID-19—and scientists say that should come as no surprise. After all, older age brackets have been disproportionately at risk throughout the pandemic, and that continues to be true even once someone is fully vaccinated.

Concerns about breakthrough infections bubbled up again this week when news broke on October 18 that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had died after contracting COVID-19. Powell was 84, but his cause of death was more complex: The former statesman suffered from multiple myeloma, a cancer of white blood cells. People with this form of cancer tend not to respond well to vaccines.

But in addition to the immunocompromised, health officials are seeing worrying evidence that older age groups continue to be at higher risk from the pandemic. According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people over 65 account for 67 percent of hospitalizations and 85 percent of deaths from breakthrough cases. And recent media reports citing data from Seattle, Washington, and the United Kingdom show that older vaccinated people face similar—and, in some cases, greater—risks of severe disease than unvaccinated children.

“The huge risk factor is age,” says William Petri, an immunologist at the University of Virginia. That’s why the U.S. prioritized vaccinating older people and those in long-term care facilities when it first rolled out the vaccines, he explains. “If you’re under 45, your chances of dying are almost nonexistent, and then it increases exponentially.”

Concerns over breakthrough infections are also why U.S. regulators have approved booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for people over 65—and are poised to do the same for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs. (Why the CDC and FDA only approved booster shots for some Americans.)

Here’s what scientists know about the aging immune system—and why breakthrough infections don’t change the fact that COVID-19 vaccines remain remarkably effective for people at any age.

Aging immune systems

Experts say they still don’t have an adequate explanation for why older people were more susceptible to COVID-19 even before vaccines were available. “It’s just one of the great mysteries of the virus,” says Deepta Bhattacharya, an immunologist at the University of Arizona.

Scientists who study aging say it likely has to do with some of the hallmarks of getting older. For example, the human body normally clears away cells that have become damaged due to disease, injury, or stress. But as the body ages, this process becomes less efficient, and it starts to accumulate so-called senescent cells, which are damaged but won’t die. These cells secrete chemicals that damage neighboring healthy cells and trigger inflammation. Senescent cells thus weaken the body and make it harder to fight off infections.

But there’s a lot more going on in an aging body, and many elements of aging likely work together to undermine the immune response, says Eric Verdin, president and chief executive officer of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, a biomedical research group based in California.

Among older people, he says, there are two broad abnormalities of the immune system: a hyperactive innate response, and an underactive adaptive response.

Innate immunity is the defense system you were born with—and the first to respond to invaders. It doesn’t target a specific pathogen, but rather mounts a generic inflammatory response. When that response is inappropriately intense, as happens in older people, it can trigger a cascade of damage throughout the body, from the lungs to the heart to the kidneys. (Here’s what the coronavirus does to the body.)

The adaptive immune response targets a specific invading pathogen. Vaccines provide a preview of the germ and teach the body how to create antibodies that recognize and latch onto a virus and block it from entering any of the body’s cells. If the virus does manage to break through, then T cells join in and kill the infected cell. Verdin likens it to an army that defends the body from attackers. If the amount of virus is small, the antibodies and T cells can easily defeat it.

A larger viral force, however, can overwhelm the adaptive immune system. Older people, who are less able to mount a vigorous adaptive response, may therefore be particularly susceptible to breakthrough infections.

“Everything gets worse with age, is the bottom line,” Bhattacharya says.

Breakthrough infections

Annual flu shot drives have shown that age can dampen the effectiveness of some vaccines. Verdin says a third of people over age 70 don’t respond at all to the flu vaccine, which is why it still kills a disproportionate number of older Americans every year.

On the other hand, responses to COVID-19 vaccines have been a lot stronger. “I think one of the more surprising things is how well the mRNA vaccines did with those older populations,” Bhattacharya says. “If you look at the initial immune responses, they weren’t very much different at all between people over 65 and those below. So that was a pretty pleasant surprise.”

However, in September the CDC reported that the vaccines are only about 78 percent effective at preventing infection among people of all ages after six months. It’s unclear exactly what is responsible for this drop in effectiveness. Bhattacharya says some studies do show that immunity is waning in people over 65, but he points out that it could also be caused by the rise of the Delta variant, which has proven better able to evade the body’s immune response.

In late September, New York magazine’s David Wallace-Wells wrote of “the overwhelming age skew of the disease” even among the vaccinated, citing data from the United Kingdom showing that vaccinated people over 60 died from COVID-19 at higher rates than unvaccinated people under 50. The New York Times also recently wrote about hospitalization rates in the Seattle area, which show that the risks for vaccinated people in their 50s are similar to the risks for unvaccinated children under age 15.

Bhattacharya says he doesn’t like comparing the two age groups, arguing that it’s much more important to compare the risks among unvaccinated versus vaccinated people no matter their age. These data clearly show that everyone benefits from a vaccine: In the U.K., for instance, the death rate for unvaccinated adults is several times higher than it is for vaccinated adults in every age group.

And despite the drop in effectiveness in preventing infection, the Pfizer vaccine remains 90 percent effective at preventing hospitalization, which shows that it remains a solid defense against severe disease and death. A recent report published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that vaccines “may have helped prevent hundreds of thousands of new COVID-19 infections and tens of thousands of deaths among seniors.”

Bhattacharya says that federal regulators in the U.S. have approved boosters for people over 65—and not the general population—because of the extra risks that they face. He and other scientists emphasize that high-profile breakthrough infections and the approval of booster shots should not discourage anyone from getting vaccinated. On the contrary, it should be seen as confirmation that the vaccines work.

“Rest assured, these are the best vaccines we’ve ever had,” Petri says.

Verdin agrees: “Getting vaccinated really puts things on your side. Think about it as a war where you want to have all the ammunition that you can possibly have.”


Study finds no link between COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy loss

An international study has found no link between COVID-19 vaccinations and miscarriages early in pregnancy.

The study, conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, found no evidence of a direct effect of the vaccination on pregnancy and miscarriages.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study used 20,000 Norwegian registries on first trimester pregnancies to perform the case-controlled research. Each pregnant woman's COVID-19 vaccination status, background characteristics and underlying health conditions were considered as factors.

Of the 13,956 women with ongoing pregnancies 5.5 per cent were vaccinated, and of the 4521 women with miscarriages 5.1 per cent were vaccinated.

Following the analysis, it concluded that there was "no evidence of an increased risk for early pregnancy loss after Covid-19 vaccination".

Australia's Department of Health cites pregnant people as a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination with Pfizer as the recommended vaccine.

"Pregnant people have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and their babies have a higher risk of being born prematurely. Vaccination is the best way to reduce these risks", their website states.