Saturday, January 22, 2022

CDC Study: Natural Immunity Provides Significantly More Protection Against COVID Than Vaccination Only

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Wednesday shows that those who have recovered from COVID-19 have more protection against infection than those who have only been vaccinated.

Researchers reviewed data from California and New York from May to November, when the delta variant was dominant in the U.S.

The study looked at four groups of people: unvaccinated with no prior COVID-19 infection, vaccinated with no prior infection, unvaccinated who recovered from COVID-19, and vaccinated who recovered.

By the first week of October, COVID-19 rates among the vaccinated with no previous infection were 6.2 times lower in California and 4.5 times lower in New York than among the unvaccinated with no previous infection.

However, among the unvaccinated with a previous infection, the COVID-19 rate was 29 times lower in California and 14.7 times lower in New York.

The individuals most protected against infection were those who had previously had COVID-19 and were also vaccinated. Their infection rate was 32.5 times lower in California and 19.8 times lower in New York.

“These results demonstrate that vaccination protects against COVID-19 and related hospitalization, and that surviving a previous infection protects against a reinfection and related hospitalization,” the CDC determined.

The agency noted that natural immunity proved more efficacious as the delta variant became predominant and vaccine-induced immunity for many began to wane.

The CDC also highlighted that the study took place before omicron became the dominant variant in the U.S. and before the impact of booster shots could be adequately measured.

Dr. Benjamin Silk of the CDC told the media on Wednesday, “Before the delta variant, COVID-19 vaccination resulted in better protection against a subsequent infection than surviving a previous infection,” CNN reported.

“When looking at the summer and the fall of 2021, when delta became the dominant in this country, however, surviving a previous infection now provided greater protection against subsequent infection than vaccination,” he added.

Dr. Eli Rosenberg, New York state deputy director for science said the safest course of action for those who have never had COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.

“Having COVID the first time carries with it significant risks, and becoming vaccinated and staying up-to-date with boosters really is the only safe choice for preventing COVID infection and severe disease,” he said.

Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, has faulted policymakers for being too slow to acknowledge natural immunity.

“The pandemic of the unvaccinated is a misnomer. It’s a pandemic of the non-immune,” he tweeted in July.

“More precisely, it’s a series of regional outbreaks in select pockets of the country with low population immunity,” Makary said. “Same take-home message though: If you’re not immune, get immune by getting vaxed.”


The very concerning data from Scotland

“The vaccines are incredibly safe. They protect us against Omicron; they protect us against Delta; they protect us against COVID." Those were the words of fully vaccinated CDC Director Rochelle Walensky while testifying before the Senate Health Committee with two masks on her face on Jan. 11.

Scottish data shows that the COVID-19 age-standardized case rate is highest among the two-dose vaccinated and lowest among unvaccinated! It further shows this trend of negative efficacy for the double-vaccinated persisting for hospitalizations and deaths. Something is very wrong here, and together with other data points, it raises concerning questions about the negative effect of waning antibodies, constant boosting, and the consequences of a leaky vaccine with narrow-spectrum suboptimal antibodies against an ever-evolving virus.

Every Wednesday, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has been publishing a weekly report on COVID data juxtaposed to vaccination rates. Table 14 of this week’s “Public Health Scotland COVID-19 & Winter Statistical Report” lays bare in plain English (and math) a rate of negative efficacy for the vaccine:

As you can see, while the overall Omicron wave seems to be receding in Scotland, age-standardized case rates per 100,000 people were the lowest in the unvaccinated cohort every week for the past four weeks. Thus, it’s not just the fact that the unvaccinated accounted for only 11.5% of cases the past two weeks, but even adjusted for age-stratified vaccination rates (PHS already does the math for you) the unvaccinated had the lowest infection rate out of the four cohorts – especially during the peak of Omicron. Furthermore, we see that even the triple-vaccinated clearly have no efficacy against infection, although they have some degree less negative efficacy than the double-vaccinated.

Here is a linear presentation of the depth of the Omicron wave by vaccination status, where you can see that the unvaccinated had the shallowest wave:

This also coincides with the latest data from the U.K. Health Security Agency of the entire United Kingdom. This data now shows higher rates of infection among the triple-vaccinated in all but the youngest people.

Full stop right here. Any public policy measure – from vaccine passports to discrimination – cannot be justified under the science, even if one’s conscience is OK with apartheid. In fact, clearly this shows that, especially with Omicron, the vaccinated are the super-spreaders. Before we get to hospitalizations and deaths, the notion that the unvaccinated are somehow responsible for the continued spread of this virus is completely contradicted by the data. Some might suggest without evidence that the unvaccinated possibly have a higher rate of prior infection; however, Omicron seems to attack even those who already had previous versions of SARS-CoV-2.

Now onto hospitalizations and deaths. While the vaccines clearly provided some degree of protection for some people for several months against severe illness (while possibly causing even more spread), the Scottish data paints a concerning picture of the long-term consequences of the mass vaccination. People like Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche have been warning that if you mass-vaccinate with a leaky, narrow-spectrum (only recognizes spike protein) vaccine in middle of a raging pandemic, the virus would get more virulent over time.

This concern manifests itself at two time periods when the antibodies are “sub-optimal.” There is a period of a few weeks after the jab when the antibodies are strong enough to bind but not strong enough to neutralize, and then at the back end (estimated at four to six months for the original shot, but likely much shorter for the booster), a period when they wane. The media and public health tyrants like to focus your attention on a snapshot of time, but ignore the totality of circumstances that the shots are creating negative efficacy before and after, while using accounting gimmicks to mask the problem.

Remember how the lockdowns were hailed as a success for a number of countries that initially did well, while Sweden now has the lowest rate of excess mortality in Europe in 2021?

More here:


A Deceptive Covid Study, Unmasked

Duke researchers look at transmission in schools and end up reinforcing their prior assumptions.

“Follow the science,” we keep hearing, but sometimes scientists and the media present findings in a misleading way. Consider a new study by Duke University’s ABC Science Collaborative, conducted in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers examined the effect of a “test to stay” approach to schoolchildren identified as “close contacts” of Covid-positive people. Test to stay excuses these children from quarantining if they test negative for the virus. The study’s primary conclusion was that test to stay is a good way to move away from lengthy quarantine.

That’s reasonable and useful. But the researchers peppered their report with rhetorical sleights of hand aimed at misleading readers into other, less well-founded conclusions that were mostly inevitable products of their own study design. One of their primary conclusions is that “in schools with universal masking, test-to-stay is an effective strategy.” That invites readers to assume that test-to-stay doesn’t work without forced masking. But since they studied no unmasked schools, this conclusion is baseless. An honest report would either have said so or not mentioned masking at all.

Duke’s Press office amplified the unfounded conclusion in its Jan. 4 summary of the study: “Children and staff who repeatedly test negative for COVID-19 after contact with someone who has the illness can safely remain in school if universal masking programs are in place.” The media took this press release and added a further layer of falsehood. Raleigh’s WRAL characterized the study as a defense of forced masking while pitching the study as documenting the danger of youth sports: “Athletics were the source of 50% of all COVID-19 school transmission found in the study.”


England Ends All COVID Passports, Mask Mandates, Work Restrictions

Restrictions including COVID-19 passes, mask mandates, and work-from-home guidance will be removed in England, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday.

Johnson also suggested that self-isolation rules may also be thrown out at the end of March as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic becomes endemic.

Effective immediately, the UK government is no longer asking people to work from home.

The COVID pass mandate for nightclubs and large events won’t be renewed when it expires on Jan. 26.

Also from Jan. 27, indoor mask-wearing will no longer be compulsory anywhere in England.

The requirement for secondary school pupils to wear masks during class and in communal areas will be lifted on Jan. 20. The Department for Education is expected to update its national guidance soon.

Health Secretary Sajid Jajid will also announce plans to ease restrictions on care home visits in the coming days.

Roaring cheers from lawmakers could be heard in the House of Commons following Johnson’s announcements on masks.

People who test positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated contacts are still required to self-isolate, but Johnson said he “very much expect[s] not to renew” the rule when the relevant regulations expire on March 24.

“As COVID becomes endemic, we will need to replace legal requirements with advice and guidance, urging people with the virus to be careful and considerate of others,” the prime minister said.

Asked to remove testing rules for vaccinated UK-bound travellers, Johnson said the government is reviewing the testing arrangements on travel and that an announcement can be expected in the coming days.

But he refused to reconsider the vaccination mandate for frontline health care workers, insisting “the evidence is clear that health care professionals should get vaccinated.”

Johnson told MPs that the Cabinet decided to remove its so-called “Plan B” measures on Wednesday morning as data suggest the Omicron wave has peaked nationally, and he attributed stabilising hospital admission numbers to “the extraordinary booster campaign” and the public’s compliance to the restriction measures.




Friday, January 21, 2022

Researcher Calls Out Censorship After Journal Pulls COVID-19 Vaccine Adverse Events Analysis

Jessica Rose didn’t ask for any of this. She started to analyze data on adverse reactions after COVID-19 vaccines simply as an exercise to master a new piece of software. But she couldn’t ignore what she saw and decided to publish the results of her analysis. The next thing she knew, she was in a “bizzarro world,” she told The Epoch Times.

A paper she co-authored based on her analysis was withdrawn by the academic journal Elsevier under circumstances that raised eyebrows among her colleagues. The journal declined to comment on the matter.

Rose received her PhD in computational biology from the Bar-Ilan University in Israel. After finishing her post-doctoral studies on molecular dynamics of certain proteins, she was looking for a new challenge. Switching to a new statistical computing software, she was looking for an interesting data set to sharpen her skills on. She picked the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), a database of reports of health problems that have occurred after a vaccination and may or may not have been caused by it.

She said she wasn’t looking for anything in particular in the data. “I don’t go in with questions,” she said.

What she found, however, was disturbing to her.

VAERS has been in place since 1990 to provide an early warning signal that there might be a problem with a vaccine. Anybody can submit the reports, which are then checked for duplicates. They are largely filed by health care personnel, based on previous research. Usually, there would be around 40,000 reports a year, including several hundred deaths.

But with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccines, VAERS reports went through the roof. By Jan. 7, there were over a million reports, including more than 21,000 deaths. Other notable issues include over 11,000 heart attacks, nearly 13,000 cases of Bell’s palsy, and over 25,000 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis.

Rose found the data alarming, only to realize authorities and even some experts were generally dismissing it.

“Clearly, there’s no concern [among these authorities and experts] for people who are suffering adverse events,” she said.

The usual arguments against the VAERS data have been that it’s unverified and unreliable.

Rose, however, sees such arguments as irrelevant—VAERS was never meant to provide definitive answers, it’s meant to give early warning and, as she sees it, it’s doing just that.

“It’s emitting so many safety signals and they’re being ignored,” she said.

She teamed up with Peter McCullough, an internist, cardiologist, and epidemiologist, to write a paper on VAERS reports of myocarditis in youth—an issue already acknowledged as a side effect of the vaccination, though usually described as rare.

As of July 9, they found 559 VAERS reports of myocarditis, 97 among children ages 12–15. Some of them may have been related to COVID itself, which can also cause heart problems, but there were too many cases to dismiss the likelihood the vaccines were involved, according to the authors.

“Within 8 weeks of the public offering of COVID-19 products to the 12–15-year-old age group, we found 19 times the expected number of myocarditis cases in the vaccination volunteers over background myocarditis rates for this age group,” the paper said.

After two weeks, on Oct. 15, the paper disappeared from the Elsevier website, replaced by a notice of “Temporary Removal.” Not only weren’t the authors told why, they weren’t informed at all, according to Rose.

“It’s unprecedented in the eyes of all of my colleagues,” she said.

When they brought up the issue with the journal, they were first told the paper was pulled because it wasn’t “invited,” Rose said. That was shot down as irrelevant by McCullough, who threatened to sue for breach of contract. The journal then turned to its terms of use, saying it has the right to refuse any paper for any reason.

It’s still not clear why the paper was pulled. “I do apologise, but Elsevier cannot comment on this enquiry,” said Jonathan Davis, the journal’s communications officer, in an email to The Epoch Times.

In late November, the paper was replaced by a notice that the “article has been withdrawn at the request of the author(s) and/or editor.”

“It just feels like weird censorship that isn’t really justified,” Rose said.

The paper’s conclusions are not necessarily controversial. A recent Danish study concluded, for example, an elevated risk of myocarditis for young people following the Moderna COVID vaccine.

It’s common, however, even for papers that examine potential issues with the vaccines to frame their results in a way that still endorses vaccination. “That’s what you have to say to get your work published these days,” Rose said.

Her paper did no such thing.

“As part of any risk/benefit analysis which must be completed in the context of experimental products, the points herein must be considered before a decision can be made pertaining to agreeing to 2-dose injections of these experimental COVID-19 products, especially into children and by no means, should parental consent be waived under any circumstances to avoid children volunteering for injections with products that do not have proven safety or efficacy,” the paper said.

The paper also called the vaccines “injectable biological products”—a reference to the fact that they are distinct from all other traditional vaccines.

A traditional vaccine uses “whole live or attenuated pathogens” while the COVID vaccines use “mRNA in lipid nanoparticles,” Rose explained via email. She said the lipid nanoparticles include “cationic lipids which are highly toxic.” Pfizer, the manufacturer of the most popular COVID-19 vaccine in many countries, addressed the issue by saying the dose is sufficiently low to ensure “an acceptable safety margin,” according to the European drug authority, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (pdf).

Rose also noted that the COVID-19 vaccines haven’t gone “through the 10-15 years of safety testing that vaccines have always had to go through … for obvious reasons.”

By this point, Rose is no longer a dispassionate observer. Reading through countless VAERS reports gave her a window into the hardships of those who believe they’ve been harmed by the vaccines. “I speak for all of those people,” she said.

In the past, 50 reports of deaths in VAERS would prompt authorities to hit the brakes and investigate, Rose said. In her view, that should have happened with the COVID-19 vaccines a year ago.

Not only has that not happened, but it isn’t even clear what would be enough to convince the authorities to do so.

“What’s the cut-off number for the number of deaths?” Rose asked.

The counterargument is that the vaccines save more lives than they cost. But in Rose’s view, this logic is flawed since the vaccines haven’t been around long enough and studied thoroughly enough to tell how many lives they may cost.

It is known, however, that VAERS understates adverse events following vaccination—by a factor of anywhere between 5 and as much as 100, based on some estimates.

Submitting a VAERS report takes about 30 minutes and many medical practitioners simply don’t have the time, Rose said. Some may feel that filing the report may get them labeled as “anti-vaxxers.” Some may simply not associate whatever health issue they’re facing with the vaccination. Some may not even be aware VAERS exists.

It’s unlikely that any significant number of the reports would be fraudulent, she suggested, noting it’s a federal offense to submit a false report.

Rose has now joined the ranks of dissident doctors and researchers skeptical of the official line on the vaccines and the pandemic in general. She described it as something she’s compelled to do despite the disincentives involved.

“We don’t want to be doing this. But it is our duty. Doctors swore an oath to do no harm. And researchers with integrity cannot look away from this,” she said via email.


The most vaccinated country in the world is being hit heavily by Omicron

Israel experienced its highest daily number of new Covid cases this week – 71,000 out of a population of 9 million – but the head of country’s health department, Nahman Ash, concedes the number may be up to three times higher. Whichever figure is correct, the trend is certain: case numbers have been rising every day for the past two weeks, as the Omicron wave surges.

“Ninety-eight per cent of our patients are now infected with Omicron,” says Dror Mevorach, who heads the Covid ward at ­Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

As the number of seriously ill patients rises, hospitals are reopening Covid wards and postponing elective surgery. Health bureaucrats and politicians hope this wave will peak before the hospital system overloads.

As a result, Israel is also adopting self-administered rapid antigen tests as its alternative testing method, and a lack of supply has led to queues and rising prices too. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett admitted this was a problem, but said it could be solved.

“We will purchase 50 million more RATs,” he said last week. The finance minister said 20 million would be enough. They appear to have sorted out that issue, as on Tuesday Mr Bennett said the first delivery was due next week. And the main policy change: 25-30 million kits will be distributed for free to certain sectors of the population.

From the start, Israel has been proactive, pioneering mass vaccinations and the third booster shot. Once it became clear that the largest numbers of vaccinated people contracting the Omicron variant were older, Israel last month initiated a fourth vaccine booster for those over 60, as well as frontline medical workers and the immuno-compromised.

As a fourth shot had not been approved by US regulatory authorities, the Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv began a trial, testing its effect on its staff, who have been monitored since December 2020, when they received the first dose of the vaccine. Preliminary results released this week have found only middling results.

“The vaccine, which was very effective against the previous strains, is less effective against Omicron,” said Gili Regev-­Yochay, who is leading the trial.

“We see many who receive the fourth dose and are infected with Omicron. Granted, a bit less than in the control group, but there are still a lot of infections. The bottom line is that the vaccine was excellent against the Alpha and Delta variants, but for Omicron it’s not good enough.”

The trial, which follows 150 medical staff, is much smaller than most drug trials, where thousands of participants are tracked for months. But Dr Regev-Yochay says she released the preliminary findings because it’s the only known study of the fourth dose. She added it was still probably beneficial to give a fourth jab to people in higher risk groups including the very elderly, but hinted that perhaps it need not be given to everyone over 60.

More than 500,000 Israelis have received a fourth dose, and Dr Alroy-Preis says with hindsight it was still the right decision. “A five to six fold increase in antibodies is better than nothing and this is the most vulnerable section of the community,” she said.

Israel has also been prescribing the new Pfizer drug Paxlovid. Ruth Ralbag, head of private health fund Clalit, said the new drug was only appropriate for people in the first stages of the disease and could be taken at home. “Covid is teaching us that care at home is the future,” she said.

It seems even a proactive government finds it hard to remain popular during a pandemic. According to the latest polls, 48 per cent of Israelis, frustrated at the high infection rate and repeated quarantines, don’t think the government is doing a good job.




Thursday, January 20, 2022

Expert skeptical about vaccines

Dr. Peter McCullough – a renowned cardiologist and highly published medical scientist whose confrontation of the government's COVID-19 policies has drawn more than 40 million views on Joe Rogan's podcast – told WND in a video interview Thursday night the official pandemic narrative that has been fiercely guarded by establishment media and social-media censors is "completely crumbling."

That narrative, he said, included "false statements regarding asymptomatic spread, reliance on lockdown and masks – which obviously didn't work – the suppression of early treatment, the mass promotion of vaccines that failed."

"And now here we are, almost in complete free fall," McCullough said, referring to the record number of COVID-19 cases as officials acknowledge the vaccines don't prevent infection or transmission.

McCullough noted that in California, with the more contagious but much milder omicron variant now dominant, health care workers who tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms were told to go back to work.

"With that, I think that's it. I think that's the end. The narrative has crumbled. People don't want these vaccines," McCullough said. "The vaccines should be pulled off the market. They clearly are not solving the problem."

The focus, he said, should be on "treating high-risk patients who develop symptoms" with some of the early treatments that he and other physicians around the world have found to be effective, including ivermectin and a new drug granted emergency use authorization by the FDA, Paxlovid.

McCullough cited a study from Denmark and data from the U.K.'s health agency showing that the vaccines have zero effectiveness against omicron.

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"That's not misinformation," he said. "I'm just quoting the data. All of this can be looked up. Fact-checkers can look at it. I know I'll never have any problems with allegations of misinformation, because I just quote the data."

President Biden clearly had McCullough in mind when on Thursday he urged social media companies and media outlets to "please deal with the misinformation and disinformation that's on your shows. It has to stop."

McCullough pointed out his work has been relied upon by courts across the nation, including the U.S. Supreme Court, and he has testified to the U.S. Senate and will be back there later this month.


Fourth shot of Covid vaccine is NOT enough against Omicron

Even a fourth dose of current Covid vaccines is not enough to prevent Omicron infection, according to preliminary results from a trial in Israel.

The study of more than 270 medical staff found that the fourth shot only raised antibodies 'a little' compared to those who were triple-jabbed.

And those in the four jabs group were only 'a bit less' likely to test positive for the mutant strain than the control group.

The findings were true for a fourth dose of both Pfizer and Moderna, and will reignite the debate about whether constant boosting is necessary.

Researchers from the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, who ran the trial, said those infected in the study had very mild symptoms or none at all.

Dr. Gili Regev-Yochay, the lead researcher of the trial, told a press conference: 'These are very preliminary results. This is before any publication.

'But we're giving it out since we understand the urgency of the public to get any information possible about the fourth dose.'

The findings will likely reignite the debate around how often Covid vaccine boosters are needed.

A UK Government adviser today became the latest senior figure to warn against repeated mass vaccinations, recommending a targeted approach like for flu.

And last week, European Union regulators claimed that boosting too frequently could actually weaken the immune system.

The World Health Organization has called on vaccine makers to make variant-proof jabs to avoid countries having to revaccinate every few months.

Israel was the first country in the world to roll out boosters last year and became the only nation to start dishing out fourth shots last month to combat Omicron.

Studies have since shown that three jabs are holding up well against serious illness, offering about 88 per cent protection from hospitalisation, even if Omicron can slip past the immune system and cause an infection more easily.

More than half a million people in those two risk groups have been quadruple-jabbed so far. But she admitted the small extra benefit was not enough to justify a wider rollout to the whole adult population.


Blood thinner could be used to treat and stop transmission of COVID-19

Patients at four hospitals in NSW and Victoria are set to undergo treatment with a cheap, readily available drug that scientists believe can dramatically improve outcomes for those infected with COVID-19.

Heparin is a common blood thinner that has been in use for decades. Australian National University researchers are coordinating multiple studies aiming to prove it is effective in preventing severe disease among coronavirus patients when inhaled directly into the lungs.

ANU study lead Professor Frank van Haren said initial results indicate the drug could be “a promising treatment” and also “a possible preventative against the virus” with breathing and oxygen levels improving in 70 per cent of patients after they inhaled a course of heparin.

“If it is as effective as our early results suggest, it could have a major impact in our fight against COVID,” Professor van Haren said.

Researchers around the world are tracking hospital patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 in 13 countries who were given doses of inhaled heparin, which is administered through an inhaler similar to the ones used to treat asthma.

When the study began, Australia did not have enough people infected with COVID-19 to test the drug on patients here, but now trials are beginning at St George Hospital in Kogarah, the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital and St Vincent’s Melbourne.

A randomised, peer reviewed study of 98 patients, to be published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology on Thursday, found heparin was safe, with no concerning side effects among patients who inhaled a therapeutic dose of the drug.

While the larger, ongoing international study would provide a “definitive” answer about the treatment’s efficacy, Professor van Haren said the new safety findings were crucial.

“It’s super important to know that the new treatment and new way of giving something is actually safe, that it doesn’t do any harm,” he said. “There is still an urgent need for an effective treatment of COVID-19.”

Co-author Professor Clive Page, from King’s College London, who is co-leading the global studies, said inhaled heparin had antiviral properties “which work by binding to the spike proteins the coronavirus uses to enter the cells of the body.”

“Inhaled heparin effectively stops the virus infecting cells in the lungs and could also stop people from getting the virus from others,” Professor Page said.

“It also works as an anti-inflammatory drug; the medicine has the ability to calm everything down when the body is mounting an exaggerated response to the virus.”

Professor van Haren said he hoped the drug’s efficacy could be proven quickly, saying it could be used widely within months if early results held up – easing the strain on hospitals by reducing the number of patients needing to be admitted to intensive care units.

“Most COVID experts agree that vaccination alone is not going to stop the pandemic. This could really assist in poorer countries where vaccination is challenging and we think it could help frontline workers who could use it as a preventative measure,” he said.

Professor van Haren said the team was now collecting more evidence that inhaled heparin worked and that “once we have this evidence, heparin via inhalation, could be an option to treat COVID-19 patients, everywhere, within months”.

Heparin, which is normally administered via injection, is a blood thinner used to treat and prevent blood clots across the world and is widely available.




Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Fauci warns that Omicron may NOT be the 'end' of the pandemic and there is a 'high probability' another variant could emerge' that would evade immunity

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Disease, told the Davos Agenda virtual event Monday that 'natural vaccination' - or immunity via previous infection - might not be as effective as some believe.

Like the emergence of Omicron, there is potential for a new variant to emerge in the future that can bypass the natural immunity provided by infection from the new strain.

He says that even if Omicron - which has caused a massive surge in new cases worldwide but is not as severe or deadly as its predecessors - is the final strain of Covid, it will likely become endemic.

His warning runs counter to the positive predictions coming from some officials in the UK who believe that the virus could have a 'flu-type' relationship with people by the end of the year based on its current spread.

'I would hope that that's the case. But that would only be the case if we don't get another variant that eludes the immune response of the prior variant,' Fauci said.

Fauci has previously made grim projections about new Covid variants, and was even correct about a variant like Omicron emerging.

In August, when the Delta variant was first rising in the U.S., Fauci warned that with transmission of Covid so rampant it was likely that a vaccine resistant variant would eventually emerge.

Months later, than variant did come about, when South African health officials discovered the highly infectious Omicron variant in late November.

He fears that there is a chance another variant emerges that has mutated in a way that allows it to get around protection provided by recovering from Omicron.

Covid becoming endemic as a result of Omicron has become a common theory among health experts and officials, and has served as a beacon of hope for the population suffering through the recent surge.

Omicron is burning through people so quickly, causing daily Covid cases to hit records almost everywhere in the world, that it could soon run out of people to infect.

The U.S.'s daily case average eclipsed 800,000 for the first time over the weekend, with the height of the Omicron surge now reaching four times as many cases as the peak of the Delta wave. Disparities in case figures have not translated into more deaths, though, with the 1,839 deaths being recorded every day in America - the most since early October - is still far below the 3,200 deaths per day being averaged at the peak of the Delta surge in late September.

Cases also seem to be reaching a peak. Week-to-week case growth nationwide is slowing. New daily cases are only up seven percent over the past week, compared to a 75 percent increase the week before. New York and New Jersey were struck hard and fast by the variant last month, but cases in the neighboring states are now decreasing over the past two weeks - down 14 percent and 20 percent respectively.

Dr Vivek Murthy, America's surgeon general, warns that the peak may not be as near as some believe. He told CNN on Sunday that not every state will experience was is currently going on along the east coast.

'There are parts of the country -- New York, in particular, and other parts of the Northeast -- where we are starting to see a plateau, and in some cases, an early decline in cases,' Murthy said.

'The challenge is that the entire country is not moving at the same pace,'

'The Omicron wave started later in other parts of the country, so we shouldn't expect a national peak in the next coming days. The next few weeks will be tough.'

New Jersey, once among the leader in infection rate, is now seeing cases decline - signaling this surge is coming to an end.

Its neighbor, New York, and Maryland - which is experiencing a seven percent decline in daily cases - are also among the only three states in America where cases are going down.

The rate of case growth in state where cases are increasing is starting to slow, though. Last week, almost every state in America was recording a two-week doubling of cases. As of Monday morning, only 35 states have logged an increase of more than 100 percent in the past 14 days.

Some states that were once hotspots look like they could soon join the ranks of states posting decreasing cases. Georgia was once one of the hardest hit states in America by the recent Omicron surge, mainly fueled by an outbreak in the Atlanta area. The Peach state has seen a rapid decline in growth, though, with cases only up 34 percent over the past two weeks.

Neighboring Florida has quickly dropped off the leaderboard of states with the highest case growth, with the Sunshine state logging a 35 percent increase in cases over the past two weeks. Florida numbers can sometimes be misleading, though, due to the inconsistent nature of case reporting in the state.


French parliament approves law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains

The French parliament has approved a law that will exclude unvaccinated people from all restaurants, sports areas, tourist sites and even trains.

President Emmanuel Macron has faced criticism that the new vaccine pass is overkill and will do little to slow hospitalisations because 91 per cent of the population are already jabbed against Covid-19.

Up until now, a Covid-19 pass has been required in France to go to most public sites throughout the country, but unvaccinated people have been allowed in if they show a recent negative test or proof of recent recovery.

But the new law, which applies to everyone aged 16 and over, requires full vaccination and removes the test option, effectively barring unvaccinated people from such venues.

Some exceptions could be made for those who have recently recovered from Covid-19 but the law, set to come into force by the end of the week, also imposes tougher fines for fake passes and allows ID checks to avoid fraud.

It is the central measure of government efforts to protect hospitals amid record numbers of Covid infections driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The plans have faced fierce resistance from anti-vaccination campaigners and far-right and far-left groups, but was backed by the government which has a majority in parliament.

Macron's government is hoping the new pass will be enough to limit the number of patients filling up strained hospitals nationwide without resorting to a new lockdown.

New confinement measures would strike another blow to the economy, and could also cloud Macron's chances of re-election in the April 10 presidential vote.

More than 76 per cent of French ICU beds are occupied by coronavirus patients, most of them unvaccinated, and some 200 people with the virus are dying every day.

Like many countries, France is in the grip of an Omicron wave, recording more than 2,800 positive cases per 100,000 people over the past week.

The National Assembly adopted the law by a vote of 215-58. Macron, 44, had hoped to push the Bill through faster, but it was slightly delayed due to resistance from politicians both on the right and left and hundreds of proposed amendments.

Far-right leader Marine le Pen wrote on Twitter yesterday that, if elected, she would 'remove this useful and draconian measure', in reference to the new legislation.

Left wing politician Fran├žois Ruffin said the vaccine pass made unvaccinated people 'second class citizens' and asked 'what have you done with our souls?'

Christophe Castaner, a member of Macron's La Republic en Marche party, rebutted Ruffin, saying 'the fight you are leading is already lost', citing a recent increase in vaccine uptake.

The new law comes after Macron said earlier this month he wanted to 'p*** off' unvaccinated people by making their lives so complicated they would end up getting jabbed.

He made the cutting remark while responding to a nurse during a question and answer session with readers of Le Parisien on how the government will handle non-vaccinated people.

'By – and I’m sorry for putting it this way – by p***ing them off even more,' Macron said.

'I’m generally opposed to the French being p****d off. I complain all the time about administrative blockages. But when it comes to the non-vaccinated, I’m very keen to pi** them off. So we’re going to do it, the end. That’s our strategy.'

The phrase prompted howls of condemnation from rivals and forced parliament to suspend a debate on a Covid bill on January 5 as opposition lawmakers demanded explanations from Macron.

But the government backed Macron. 'Who is pissing off who today?', government spokesperson Gabrial Attal said, quoting health workers struggling to cope or businesses hurt by the pandemic. 'It's those who refuse the vaccine.'

'A president cannot say such things,' Christian Jacob, chair of the conservative Les Republicans party, told parliament on January 5 as it discussed the new legislation.

'I'm in favour of the vaccine pass but I cannot back a text whose objective is to 'p*** off' the French,' Jacob said. 'Is that your objective, yes or no? We cannot keep debating without having a clear answer on that.'

'A president shouldn't say that,' Le Pen responded on Twitter. 'Emmanuel Macron is unworthy of his office.'

In the Le Parisien interview, Macron, who has consistently called on everyone in France to get vaccinated, also called unvaccinated people irresponsible and - in another remark criticised by some voters and the opposition, that 'irresponsible people are no longer citizens'.

He said he aims to irritate the unvaccinated into submission, rather than round them up and prosecute them.




Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Doctor treated as insane and dangerous for questioning conventional Covid treatment

She treated Covid-19 patients with Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine

A doctor with decades of experience can’t practice medicine after her license was temporarily suspended over complaints that she shared coronavirus misinformation, according to a Maine licensing board.

The board has ordered her to undergo a neuropsychological evaluation, it said.

Dr. Meryl J. Nass, who got a license to practice medicine in Maine in 1997, had her license “immediately” suspended for 30 days after a board investigation and review of complaints against her on Jan. 12, according to a suspension order from the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine.

Nass, who’s an internist in Ellsworth, must “submit” to an evaluation by a “Board-selected psychologist” on Feb. 1, the board’s evaluation order issued Jan. 11 said.

“I have no comment about submitting to a neuropsych exam, except that the board ordered me to do so on shaky grounds,” Nass told McClatchy News, adding that she’s had her license for a total of 41 years.

“The information received by the Board demonstrates that Dr. Nass is or may be unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety to her patients by reason of mental illness, alcohol intemperance, excessive use of drugs, narcotics, or as a result of a mental or physical condition interfering with the competent practice of medicine,” the evaluation order states.

The complaints against Nass include how the board was told she engaged in “public dissemination of ‘misinformation’” about COVID-19 and vaccinations “via a video interview and on her website,” the board said about the October 26, 2021 complaint. It lists several comments Nass made that were subject to the board’s investigation.

Roughly 10 days later, the board got another complaint about Nass “spreading COVID and COVID vaccination misinformation on Twitter,” it said.

Nass called “disinformation and misinformation” a “fuzzy concept” that the board hasn’t defined for her, she said. “There’s no law that says doctors can’t express their educated opinion on any subject.”

Other grounds for her suspension include how Nass treated COVID-19 patients with Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, according to the board.

The board noted that Ivermectin isn’t Food and Drug Administration “authorized or approved” as a treatment for COVID-19 in the suspension order.

Ivermectin is used as a parasitic treatment for animals, according to the FDA.

“For humans, ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses to treat some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea,” the agency explains online.

Additionally, it noted the FDA “revoked’ emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine since it “may not be effective” against COVID-19.

Hydroxychloroquine is FDA approved for malaria and certain autoimmune conditions.

On Dec. 19, a physician notified the board that Nass diagnosed a sick, unvaccinated patient “‘over the phone’” with COVID and prescribed 5 days of Ivermectin,” the board said. This patient had to be hospitalized for COVID-19.

With another patient, Nass is accused of emailing the board about another COVID-19 patient saying she was “forced” to “provide misinformation” in order to obtain hydroxychloroquine.

The board said Nass told them during a Zoom meeting that she “lied and said the patient had Lyme disease and so the pharmacist dispensed the medication only because I lied.”

On Dec. 31, a Certified Nurse Midwife reported that Nass prescribed one of her pregnant patients who tested COVID-19 positive with hydroxychloroquine earlier in 2021, according to the board.

Nass said she believes vaccines are “preventive, but they don’t work anymore against the omicron variant.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, says otherwise.

Omicron “will ultimately find just about everybody” Fauci said on Jan. 11, CNN reported. But those who are vaccinated and boosted “will very likely, with some exceptions, do reasonably well in the sense of not having hospitalization and death.”

Unvaccinated individuals are “going to get the brunt of the severe aspect of this,” Fauci said

On her blog, Nass called her license suspension a “witchhunt.”

Nass’ license is suspended until Feb. 11 “pending further Board action at an adjudicatory hearing,” the suspension order said.

She said that this hearing can be “extended by either party.”

Because of her suspension, her practice in Ellsworth was shut down where she said she takes care of chronically ill patients as well as COVID-19 patients. Ellsworth is located about 100 miles east of Augusta.

The board said that her continuing to practice as a physician “constitutes an immediate jeopardy to the health and physical safety of the public who might receive her medical services, and that it is necessary to immediately suspend her ability to practice medicine in order to adequately respond to this risk.”


Liberal State Allows COVID-Positive Health Care Workers to STAY AT WORK

Of all of the asinine ways in which we’ve spent the last two years trying to control the coronavirus crisis, and with the gamut of precautions that we’ve had to fight through just to live our normal lives, you would think that the powers that be wouldn’t be quick to just flips a switch and turn it all off.

No, they’ve spent months attempting to convince us of all manner of doom headed our way, lest we choose not to abide by their ever-changing sets of rules.

As the omicron variant surges, however, some of the nation’s most liberal locales are now throwing all caution to the wind, and in an alarming manner.

Daylong waits in the emergency room. No one to answer the phones. No one to take out the trash. And more patients arriving each day.

That’s the scene playing out at some hospitals across Southern California as the Omicron-fueled surge of COVID-19 contributes to a crippling shortage of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers. While Omicron is causing significantly fewer serious illnesses than last year’s winter surge, the unprecedented number of people becoming infected has left the medical infrastructure on edge.

So what’s their brilliant plan?

State officials are attempting to address California’s staffing shortage through a sweeping policy change that allows asymptomatic healthcare workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus to return to work immediately. The policy, set to remain in place through Feb. 1, is designed to keep many healthcare workers on the job at a time when hospitals are expecting more patients.

Some experts say California’s stance is an unorthodox yet necessary solution to a difficult problem. Yet many healthcare workers and community members say the policy is not only ill-advised, it’s potentially dangerous.

And why wouldn’t they be upset? This new guidance seems to fly in the face of just about every bit of advice we’ve received previous to now.

Leave it to California…


SCOTUS to the rescue

Medical experts are saying it’s time for the Biden administration to rethink its failing COVID policy. By the end of the week, another Quinnipiac University presidential performance poll was released. Biden’s approval numbers continue to plummet.

To cement his “week from hell”, Biden watched as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down his tyrannical attempt to federally mandate vaccines on businesses across the country. It was one of the most ill-advised attempts at government health control ever.

SCOTUS clearly felt the same way. Biden insisted that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had the right to force workers at businesses with more than 100 employees to require a COVID-19 vaccine. He was wrong, as usual.

Some experts weighed in on the decision. They insisted that the agency was overstepping its bounds. However, OSHA didn’t propose the mandate. The order to force an experimental drug on workers across the nation came from Joe Biden. OSHA was a pawn.

It is one of the most egregious power grabs in the history of American government. Thousands of Americans have already quit their jobs for fear the order would be upheld. Hopefully, these people will get their jobs back or seek legal relief in the courts.

More than 80 million Americans would have been affected by this unconstitutional decree. By blocking the mandate in a 6 to 3 vote, SCOTUS issued a scathing condemnation of Biden’s attempt to forcibly exercise unnecessary government control over citizens’ lives.

In a statement released by Biden, he insisted he was “disappointed”. Not nearly as disappointed as the thousands of Americans he has forced or would have forced out of a job. Biden also bemoaned that his mandate was “grounded squarely in both science and law.”

As we watch millions of vaccinated Americans get infected with the Omicron COVID-19 variant, that’s a complete lie. The U.S. Supreme Court slammed the door shut on Biden’s other falsehood. His dictatorial mandate was not grounded squarely in the law. It was unconstitutional.

If Americans do not elect a common sense counterbalance to Biden’s liberal socialist insanity, we will lose our democracy. It will be challenging three years for certain. However, the alternative will be unthinkable. We will not recognize our country otherwise.

A strong conservative-led counterbalance in both Houses of Congress will freeze Joe Biden’s liberal assault on democracy. Soon after he fumbles his way out of the White House, he will begin his own legacy; a legacy as the worst president in the history of this great nation.


Pediatric Neurologist Dr. Ben Carson On Kids' COVID Vax: 'Just a Giant Experiment' - 'Doesn't Make Sense'

Pediatric neurologist Dr. Ben Carson appeared on Fox Businesses and told host Maria Bartiromo that the COVID vaccine for 5-11 year olds does not make sense, and described it as a "giant experiment."

Bartiromo asked Carson if he agrees with the CDC decision to vaccinate kids for COVID and he replied, “Uh, absolutely not!"

He continued, "The fact of the matter is, the mortality rate for children from COVID-19 is .025 which is very similar to the rate for seasonal flu—and we haven’t been going through these things for seasonal flu!”

“This is really just a giant experiment,” Carson said. “Do we want to put our children at risk when we don’t know why would we do a thing like that?” adding, “It makes no sense whatsoever.”

He declared that natural immunity “is very very effective,” including a “study by the Cleveland Clinic of 1,300 of their workers who had been previously infected, and NONE of them have been re-infected!”

Carson noted that the vaccine push is nothing more than a money grab. (Video at link)




Monday, January 17, 2022

Rapid tests may not detect omicron early in infection

Rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 may not reliably detect the omicron variant during the first few days of infection, even when a person is shedding the virus in high enough quantities to be contagious, preliminary evidence hints.

For the new study, posted Wednesday (Jan. 5) to the preprint database medRxiv, researchers looked at 30 people from five different workplaces in New York and California, all of whom tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in December 2021. Due to their workplace policies, each person was undergoing both daily rapid tests and daily PCR tests, which take longer to process but can detect smaller amounts of virus. People in the study used the Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue rapid antigen tests, which are both approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Of the participants, all but one were likely infected with the omicron variant, based on how a genetic quirk of the variant shows up on PCR tests, the team noted in their report.

On the day of each person's first positive PCR test, and on the day after, their rapid tests all came back negative, STAT News reported. It wasn't until nearly two days after the positive PCR that any of the rapid tests came back positive. Across all the subjects, "the median time from first positive PCR to first detectable antigen positive was three days," the researchers wrote in their report.

That's despite the fact that, in 28 of the 30 cases, the amount of virus detected by PCR was high enough to infect other people on Day 1, STAT News reported. Through contact tracing, the team confirmed that in four of those cases, infected people passed on the virus to others while still testing negative on rapid tests.

"It's absolutely likely there were many more than four transmissions," lead author Blythe Adamson, the principal epidemiologist at Infectious Economics in New York and an employee of Flatiron Health, an affiliate of Roche, told STAT News. "We named four because there were four that were confirmed through contact tracing and epidemiology investigation. There were likely many more."

While the findings are worrisome, other early data and anecdotal reports hint there may be a way to make these tests more sensitive earlier on in infection, by swabbing the throat in addition to the nose, The New York Times reported. This idea still needs to be verified with further research. In the meantime, the study highlights the importance of isolating if you have any COVID-19 symptoms — even if you have a negative result on a rapid test.

A negative rapid test result is "not a ticket that allows you to go back to normal or to drop any other measures," Isabella Eckerle, a clinical virologist at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, told the Times. And in particular, people should exercise caution if they've tested negative on a rapid test but have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or believe they've been exposed to the virus.

The new study has not yet been peer-reviewed, but its results do align with a recent update from the FDA. Based on the agency's own lab studies, "Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity," the update reads. That said, reduced sensitivity in the lab doesn't always translate to reduced sensitivity in real-world applications, Bruce Tromberg, director of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, told The New York Times.

The new preprint hints that, indeed, this reduced sensitivity noted by the FDA may also translate to real-world test results, thus creating a lag between positive PCR results and positive rapid results. This does not mean rapid tests are useless — they can still detect the omicron variant, they just take longer to do so than PCR.

"Due to immediate turnaround time, frequent rapid antigen testing does slow transmission — and with a highly infectious variant frequent testing is needed, which is not realistic with PCR," Abbott spokesman John Koval told the Times. Plus, PCR tests may not be as readily available as at-home rapid tests. So rapid tests still have utility; people should just be wary of false-negative results, test themselves at least twice over two consecutive days following an exposure, and keep track of potential COVID-19 symptoms regardless of their test results, the Times reported.

The big question now is, why are the rapid tests less sensitive to the omicron variant? Rapid antigen tests detect proteins on the coronavirus's surface, and as the virus mutates, these proteins can become less recognizable to the test. Once these problem mutations are identified, "adjustments to existing tests can be undertaken by each developer with support from the FDA, if appropriate," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo told the Times.

That said, the rapid tests may have a second Achilles heel: The FDA-approved rapid tests are only approved for use in the nose, not the throat or mouth. Anecdotal reports and preliminary studies have hinted that omicron may replicate faster in the mouth and throat than it does in the nose, the Times reported. And the authors of the medRxiv paper found similar results in an analysis of five people in their study who took both nose swab- and saliva-based PCR tests. They found that, in these individuals, the amount of virus in their saliva peaked one to two days before that in their noses.

"The major unknown is what it has been for weeks now: Are the [rapid antigen tests] inherently less able to detect omicron, or is there less omicron to detect on nasal swabs?" John Moore, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medical College, told STAT News. For now, the answer to that question remains unclear.


Vaccines Not Durable, Omicron Might Turn COVID-19 Endemic

Bill Gates, in a Twitter discussion Tuesday, said that the current COVID-19 vaccines were missing two key factors, and claimed that Omicron might bring about a wave of immunity in communities it passes through.

Microsoft co-founder and one of the world’s richest men, Gates has invested in vaccine research through his foundation and given prominent talks regarding the pandemic. Recently, he chatted regarding the current situation of COVID-19, vaccines, and related issues with Devi Sridhar, a professor at the University of Edinburgh where she holds a Personal Chair in Global Public Health.

When asked about a breakthrough that could result in the biggest difference in ending the pandemic, he talked about the efficacy of vaccines.

“The vaccines we have prevent severe disease and death very well but they are missing two key things. First they still allow infections (‘breakthrough’) and the duration appears to be limited. We need vaccines that prevent re-infection and have many years of duration,” Gates said.

The effectiveness of vaccines has been questioned, especially with regards to the Omicron variant. The high number of mutations on the variant’s spike protein increases “the possibility of immune escape,” according to Moderna President Stephen Hoge. Hoge added that the “dent in our vaccine’s efficacy” applies to all manufacturers.

Omicron has spread rapidly across the world, with 98.3 percent of infections in the United States now attributed to it. Although highly transmissible, international studies have shown that the strain poses milder symptoms in infected people.

Recently, a notable international health charity called for treating COVID-19 “like the common cold.” Dr. Mike Tildesley, a University of Warwick professor, has forecast COVID-19 evolving to become less severe and endemic. He said the Omicron variant is the beginning of that process. Gates has seconded this perspective.

“Once Omicron goes through a country then the rest of the year should see far fewer cases so COVID can be treated more like seasonal flu,” he said, while recommending yearly COVID-19 shots that would be needed for some time.

Gates talked about a lot of “misinformation” regarding him spreading on social media. “People like you and I and Tony Fauci have been subject to a lot of misinformation. I didn’t expect that. Some of it like me putting chips in arms doesn’t make sense to me—why would I want to do that?”

The billionaire then discussed the availability of vaccines around the world. Although there was demand, logistical issues and inefficient health systems prevented the adequate supply of vaccines in developing nations.

Regarding the Chinese authorities’ theory that the coronavirus emerged from a bat in a wet market located in Wuhan, Gates defended this argument. This is despite mounting evidence suggesting that the novel coronavirus, otherwise known as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus escaped from a government lab in the Chinese city.

When Sridhar asked about the origin of the pandemic, Gates replied, “The data is pretty strong that it came from another species which is true for most pandemics. People will continue to speculate on this and we should make sure labs are careful. There will be future outbreaks coming from other species so we need to invest in being ready.”


Virginia’s New GOP Governor Ends Vaccine Mandate for State Employees, Mask Mandates in Schools

Glenn Youngkin, the first Republican to win the state of Virginia since 2009, was sworn in as the state’s 74th governor on Jan. 15.

Within hours of his inauguration, he signed 11 executive actions including lifting the mask mandate in Virginia schools and “ending divisive concepts, including critical race theory, in public education.”

He also signed an executive directive rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.

The 55-year-old former business executive, in his inauguration speech at Richmond, emphasized a “common path forward” with “our deep and abiding respect for individual freedom.” Youngkin vowed to strengthen and renew the “spirit of Virginia” associated with the history of the state as the home of American democracy. He credited Virginians with the spirit of tenacity, grit, and resilience.

Youngkin said he was “ready to lead and serve, starting on day one,” and it would start in the classroom to get Virginia’s children “career and college ready.” The crowd of an estimated size of 6,000 burst into a loud cheer upon hearing from Youngkin that he would “remove politics from the classroom.”

“Virginia is open for business,” Youngkin promised to create 400,000 new jobs and 10,000 new startups in the four years of his administration by reducing regulations and increasing job-related training.

According to him, residents of the commonwealth will see the “largest tax rebate in Virginia’s history.” In addition, he promised to “fully fund” and “return respect to” law enforcement.




Sunday, January 16, 2022

Covid-19 testing in the time of omicron

With omicron infections surging around the world, many countries are changing their coronavirus testing guidelines to better deal with the new variant and the huge number of cases it is causing. Here's what you need to know

Can you test positive for covid-19 without being infectious?
Even if you have had three doses of coronavirus vaccine, a positive lateral flow test (LFT) result means you are infectious to other people because virus protein is present in large quantities in your nose or throat. For that, the virus must be actively multiplying inside your cells.

However, PCR tests continue to give positive results for days to weeks after an infection, because they can detect tiny quantities of the virus’s genetic material, which aren’t necessarily infectious.

How have testing rules changed?

Many countries have lessened their restrictions for people with covid-19 since the start of the surge caused by the omicron variant. In the UK, the isolation period for infected people has been cut from 10 days to seven – as long as you get a negative result on two LFTs, also known as rapid antigen tests. These must be done on days six and seven, and carried out at least 24 hours apart. People should remain cautious around others and avoid those who are vulnerable, though.

Could the isolation period be shortened further?
In the US, the isolation period has been cut to five days for people who have no symptoms or whose symptoms are on the wane, although you should still wear a mask around other people for a further five days. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says it has no plans to follow suit.

Why do some people still test positive on day seven even though they feel well?

Symptoms may not reflect how much virus is present in a person’s throat or nose – they could have replicating virus but no symptoms and vice versa. “There’s huge variation in the length of infection, and huge variations in viral load,” says Al Edwards at the University of Reading, UK.

The UKHSA estimates that between 10 and 30 per cent of people will still be positive at day six – and that 5 per cent of people will still be positive at day 10, although the guidance says you no longer have to isolate on day 11, no matter what your LFT results show.

How about confirmatory PCR tests?

In the UK, people who test positive by LFT will no longer need to take a follow-up PCR test, a temporary change coming into effect on 11 January. This is because background levels of covid-19 are so high – with about 1 in 15 people infected in the last week of December – that a positive LFT result is currently less likely to be false.

Does this mean we can just rely on LFTs now?
No. Anyone in the UK with covid-19 symptoms but a negative LFT result must still take a PCR test to rule out an infection, because LFTs have too high a rate of false negatives – telling someone they are covid-19 free when they really are infected – to rely on them if you have symptoms. There are several reasons why LFTs are prone to false negatives, including people failing to swab their nose or throat properly and failing to mix the swab well with the testing fluid, says Edwards. “LFTs are only able to detect large amounts of virus.”

Are false negatives more likely with omicron?

Opinions differ. The UKHSA says initial investigations suggest that LFTs are as sensitive to omicron as they are to the delta variant that was predominant in most countries until December, although it is continuing further tests. But the US Food and Drug Administration has said LFTs may be less sensitive at detecting omicron.

It is possible that LFTs that only involve swabbing the nose may be more likely to give false negative results for omicron, because some studies have suggested that this variant is more likely to reach high levels in saliva before it does in nasal mucus. One very small US study put online last week suggests that in omicron infections, virus levels peaked in saliva one or two days before they did in nasal mucus, although this analysis included only five people.

“Omicron might be exacerbating that differential, where you have your throat and your salivary specimens turning positive earlier,” says Michael Mina at US testing company eMed. A study from South Africa also found that saliva swabs were generally more sensitive than nasal swabs for omicron, whereas it is the opposite pattern for the delta variant.

Should we switch to using throat swabs over nasal swabs?
Opinions differ there too. In the UK, LFTs made by Innova instruct users to take throat and nasal swabs, while others only use nasal swabs. In the US, only nasal LFTs are available, so people are less used to taking throat swabs. “If at all possible, put your swab in both your throat and nasal cavities,” Deenan Pillay at University College London said at last week’s meeting of Independent SAGE, an independent group of scientists in the UK. “If the swabs are shorter, stick your fingers in more to get to the back of the throat.”

But Edwards says people should only use tests exactly as instructed. “If you change the way you use a test, it doesn’t meet the manufacturer’s requirements. [Lower levels in the nose] are probably not going to make that much difference to how accurate the tests are. Most people will be either not infected or will have tons of virus. We should stick to doing tests the proper way.”


Repeat COVID-19 Vaccine Booster Shots Trigger Regulator Warning About Immune-System Risks

The EU’s drug regulator has expressed doubts about whether a second booster dose of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines would be a sustainable long-term approach.

“There is an emergency discussion around the possibility of giving a second booster dose with the same vaccine currently in use. Data has not yet been generated to support this approach,” Marco Cavaleri, the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) head of vaccines strategy, told a media briefing.

He added later, “We would like to see this data before we can make any recommendation, but at the same time we are rather concerned about a strategy that [involves] repeated vaccinations within a short term.”

An additional vaccine booster shot “could be considered as part of a contingency plan,” but “repeated vaccinations within short intervals will not represent a sustainable long term strategy,” according to Cavaleri.

Concerns Over Immune Response

When asked to expand on his statements, Cavaleri said that for a hypothetical approach of giving vaccine booster shots frequently, such as every four months, “we will end up potentially having problems with immune response and immune response may end up not being as good as we would like it to be, so we should be careful in not overloading the immune system with repeated immunization.”

He also noted that continuous administration of boosters can also lead to fatigue in the population.

“It will be much better to start thinking about an administration of boosters that is more spaced in time,” Cavaleri said.

The EMA is in conversation with vaccine developers in case there’s a need to update the current vaccines, according to Cavaleri. But he said any change “would have to be coordinated globally.”

More data on the effect of the Omicron coronavirus variant on vaccines and a better understanding of the evolution of the current wave are needed to decide whether an Omicron-specific vaccine was needed.

“While a monovalent Omicron vaccine would represent an obvious candidate to be investigated, other options such as a multivalent vaccine cannot be ruled out as potential alternatives,” Cavaleri said.

A Strategy to ‘Anticipate the Next Move’

“It is important that there is a good discussion around the choice of the composition of the vaccine to make sure that we have a strategy that is not just reactive after the virus changes, but try to anticipate what could be the next move and try to come up with an approach that will be suitable in order to prevent a future variant that, in any case, will emerge,” Cavaleri said.

The EMA has called for a meeting with global regulators on Jan. 12, which will include officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“Tomorrow we will be looking at all the evidence that we have so far with the current vaccine, so the extent by which they are still providing vaccine effectiveness and whether indeed we should still think that giving a booster shot at this point in time is the best strategy,” Cavaleri said.

He noted that the World Health Organization “will play a critical role” in decision-making.

Cavaleri noted that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, “is still behaving as a pandemic virus, and the Omicron emergency is currently showing that.”

“So we should not forget we are still in a pandemic,” he said. “Nevertheless, with increase of immunity in the population and with Omicron there will be a lot of natural immunity taking place on top of vaccination, we will be vastly moving toward a scenario that will be closer to endemicity.”

Separately, he noted, “Ideally, if you want to move toward a scenario of endemicity, then such boosters should be synchronized with the arrival of the cold seasons in each of the hemispheres, similarly to what we’re doing with influenza vaccines.”


Anti-viral chewing gum?

University of Pennsylvania scientists used saliva samples of COVID-19 patients to test a chewing gum laced with a plant-grown protein.

The protein traps the SARS-CoV-2 virus to reduce viral load in saliva and potentially hamper transmission.

According to the team of researchers, the chewing gum contains the ACE2 protein to neutralize the virus.

EurekAlert! noted:

The work, led by Henry Daniell at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine and performed in collaboration with scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as at The Wistar Institute and Fraunhofer USA, could lead to a low-cost tool in the arsenal against the COVID-19 pandemic. Their study was published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

“SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, and we know that when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or speaks some of that virus can be expelled and reach others,” says Daniell. “This gum offers an opportunity to neutralize the virus in the saliva, giving us a simple way to possibly cut down on a source of disease transmission.”

Since the experimental COVID-19 injections don’t prevent transmission, Daniell’s work provides an innovative solution to potentially reduce viral load.

Recent research indicates vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals can carry similar viral loads.

EurekAlert! explained how the scientists tested the chewing gum:

To test the chewing gum, the team grew ACE2 in plants, paired with another compound that enables the protein to cross mucosal barriers and facilitates binding, and incorporated the resulting plant material into cinnamon-flavored gum tablets. Incubating samples obtained from nasopharyngeal swabs from COVID-positive patients with the gum, they showed that the ACE2 present could neutralize SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

Those initial investigations were followed by others at The Wistar Institute and Penn Vet, in which viruses, less-pathogenic than SARS-CoV-2, were modified to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The scientists observed that the gum largely prevented the viruses or viral particles from entering cells, either by blocking the ACE2 receptor on the cells or by binding directly to the spike protein.

Finally, the team exposed saliva samples from COVID-19 patients to the ACE2 gum and found that levels of viral RNA fell so dramatically to be almost undetectable.

After the positive findings, the researchers have sought permission to conduct a clinical trial with COVID-19 positive patients.

The research remains in the beginning stages, but clinical trials proving the gum is safe and effective can potentially be a game-changer to prevent transmission.

The peer-reviewed study was published in the journal Molecular Therapy.