Saturday, February 19, 2022

The latest study of Ivermectin

This was a generally well conducted academic study with clear findings. It was NOT however a double-blind study, meaning that it was open for experimenter expectations to influence the result. Such expectations can be very biasing. And the experimenter expectation in this case would be exactly what was found. The study clearly COULD have been double blind so it is curious that that was not done. Were they fearful of getting a result that favoured Iverectin? One has to surmise that


Importance: Ivermectin, an inexpensive and widely available antiparasitic drug, is prescribed to treat COVID-19. Evidence-based data to recommend either for or against the use of ivermectin are needed.

Objective: To determine the efficacy of ivermectin in preventing progression to severe disease among high-risk patients with COVID-19.

Design, Setting, and Participants: The Ivermectin Treatment Efficacy in COVID-19 High-Risk Patients (I-TECH) study was an open-label randomized clinical trial conducted at 20 public hospitals and a COVID-19 quarantine center in Malaysia between May 31 and October 25, 2021. Within the first week of patients’ symptom onset, the study enrolled patients 50 years and older with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, comorbidities, and mild to moderate disease.

Interventions: Patients were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive either oral ivermectin, 0.4 mg/kg body weight daily for 5 days, plus standard of care (n = 241) or standard of care alone (n = 249). The standard of care consisted of symptomatic therapy and monitoring for signs of early deterioration based on clinical findings, laboratory test results, and chest imaging.

Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was the proportion of patients who progressed to severe disease, defined as the hypoxic stage requiring supplemental oxygen to maintain pulse oximetry oxygen saturation of 95% or higher. Secondary outcomes of the trial included the rates of mechanical ventilation, intensive care unit admission, 28-day in-hospital mortality, and adverse events.

Results: Among 490 patients included in the primary analysis (mean [SD] age, 62.5 [8.7] years; 267 women [54.5%]), 52 of 241 patients (21.6%) in the ivermectin group and 43 of 249 patients (17.3%) in the control group progressed to severe disease (relative risk [RR], 1.25; 95% CI, 0.87-1.80; P = .25). For all prespecified secondary outcomes, there were no significant differences between groups. Mechanical ventilation occurred in 4 (1.7%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.13-1.30; P = .17), intensive care unit admission in 6 (2.4%) vs 8 (3.2%) (RR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.27-2.20; P = .79), and 28-day in-hospital death in 3 (1.2%) vs 10 (4.0%) (RR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.09-1.11; P = .09). The most common adverse event reported was diarrhea (14 [5.8%] in the ivermectin group and 4 [1.6%] in the control group).

Conclusions and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial of high-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, ivermectin treatment during early illness did not prevent progression to severe disease. The study findings do not support the use of ivermectin for patients with COVID-19.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Let’s look at the case of Canada that’s currently in world headlines because of the truckers’ Freedom Convoy

On January 10, with 78 per cent full vaccination (90+ per cent of adults with nearly 50 per cent boosted), Canada recorded its highest rate of 1,093 daily new cases per million people (7-day average) – almost five times more than the previous high of 229 on April 12, 2021 with 2 per cent vaccination. Similarly, the US figures were 756 on January 11, 2021 (0.5 per cent full vaccination) and 2,410 on January 15, 2022 (63 per cent), more than three times higher (Figure 1).

The double-vaccinated and boosted PM Justin Trudeau (and Prince Charles) recently tested positive for Covid. Yet still they swear by vaccine passports for stopping transmission.

But wait, do I detect green shoots of heresy peeping through the snowbound landscape? Ontario chief public health officer Dr Kieran Moore has turned sceptic on vaccine passports: ‘The vaccine isn’t providing significant benefit at two doses against the risk of transmission, as compared to someone unvaccinated […] We have to reassess the value of the passports’. He’s also indicated opposition to requiring a third dose.

In the US, vaccines were not available to the Trump administration and 351,754 people died with Covid in the calendar year 2020. For the last ten months to 11 February 2022, with three different vaccines available and despite a confusing mix of lockdown restrictions and mask mandates in different states, nearly 6,000 more people have died with Covid than in the ten months to December 31, 2020. In Canada too almost 4,000 more have died with Covid in 2021–22 thus far compared to all Covid deaths in 2020.

I admit, j’avoue, I am not all that into the no doubt very sophisticated explanations of why despite this empirical fact, mandatory vaccinations and restrictions are not just useful but absolutely critical pandemic control measures. To my simple mind, we’ve been sold a pup while Big Pharma and recipients of their largesse among medical researchers, public health experts and regulators are laughing all the way to the bank and luxury villas in upmarket holiday resorts.

The simple conclusion is reinforced with a comparison of different countries. Writing in The Daily Sceptic, Louis Vincent Gave noted the broadly similar ICU admissions and mortality curves of four countries despite contrasting Covid policies (Figure 2).

Note that France, Israel, and the US set new hospitalisation records but not Sweden, the only one of the three that never really shut down at all. Moreover, despite high rates of full vaccination in all four countries, death rates were unexpectedly high this January. Was all that pain really worth so little gain? Not to my way of thinking, it wasn’t.

Anyone interested in looking at this in detail is strongly urged to consult Ian Miller’s Unmasked: The Global Failure of Covid Mask Mandates (2022), an absolute must-read with a wealth of very telling charts that show the complete ineffectiveness of masks.

We can see near-identical Covid mortality rates between masked-up New Mexico and no-mask mandate Iowa, and infection rates between mask mandate California and no mandate New Mexico. This is supplemented by a chart for all US states with and without mask mandates.

So why are governments delaying ending the mask mandates completely?


COVID Won’t End Up Like the Flu. It Will Be Like Smoking

The writer below has greater faith in the efficacy of vaccination against Covid that seems warranted in the era of Omicron. A better preventive would be losing weight. Obesity is a big Covid risk factor

It’s suddenly become acceptable to say that COVID is—or will soon be—like the flu. Such analogies have long been the preserve of pandemic minimizers, but lately they’ve been creeping into more enlightened circles. Last month the dean of a medical school wrote an open letter to his students suggesting that for a vaccinated person, the risk of death from COVID-19 is “in the same realm, or even lower, as the average American’s risk from flu.” A few days later, David Leonhardt said as much to his millions of readers in the The New York Times’ morning newsletter. And three prominent public-health experts have called for the government to recognize a “new normal” in which the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus “is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.”

The end state of this pandemic may indeed be one where COVID comes to look something like the flu. Both diseases, after all, are caused by a dangerous respiratory virus that ebbs and flows in seasonal cycles. But I’d propose a different metaphor to help us think about our tenuous moment: The “new normal” will arrive when we acknowledge that COVID’s risks have become more in line with those of smoking cigarettes—and that many COVID deaths, like many smoking-related deaths, could be prevented with a single intervention.

The pandemic’s greatest source of danger has transformed from a pathogen into a behavior. Choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID is, right now, a modifiable health risk on par with smoking, which kills more than 400,000 people each year in the United States. Andrew Noymer, a public-health professor at UC Irvine, told me that if COVID continues to account for a few hundred thousand American deaths every year—“a realistic worst-case scenario,” he calls it—that would wipe out all of the life-expectancy gains we’ve accrued from the past two decades’ worth of smoking-prevention efforts.

The COVID vaccines are, without exaggeration, among the safest and most effective therapies in all of modern medicine. An unvaccinated adult is an astonishing 68 times more likely to die from COVID than a boosted one. Yet widespread vaccine hesitancy in the United States has caused more than 163,000 preventable deaths and counting. Because too few people are vaccinated, COVID surges still overwhelm hospitals—interfering with routine medical services and leading to thousands of lives lost from other conditions. If everyone who is eligible were triply vaccinated, our health-care system would be functioning normally again. (We do have other methods of protection—antiviral pills and monoclonal antibodies—but these remain in short supply and often fail to make their way to the highest-risk patients.) Countries such as Denmark and Sweden have already declared themselves broken up with COVID. They are confidently doing so not because the virus is no longer circulating or because they’ve achieved mythical herd immunity from natural infection; they’ve simply inoculated enough people.

President Joe Biden said in January that “this continues to be a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” and vaccine holdouts are indeed prolonging our crisis. The data suggest that most of the unvaccinated hold that status voluntarily at this point. Last month, only 1 percent of adults told the Kaiser Family Foundation that they wanted to get vaccinated soon, and just 4 percent suggested that they were taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Seventeen percent of respondents, however, said they definitely don’t want to get vaccinated or would do so only if required (and 41 percent of vaccinated adults say the same thing about boosters). Among the vaccine-hesitant, a mere 2 percent say it would be hard for them to access the shots if they wanted them. We can acknowledge that some people have faced structural barriers to getting immunized while also listening to the many others who have simply told us how they feel, sometimes from the very beginning.

The same arguments apply to tobacco: Smokers are 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer. Quitting the habit is akin to receiving a staggeringly powerful medicine, one that wipes out most of this excess risk. Yet smokers, like those who now refuse vaccines, often continue their dangerous lifestyle in the face of aggressive attempts to persuade them otherwise. Even in absolute numbers, America’s unvaccinated and current-smoker populations seem to match up rather well: Right now, the CDC pegs them at 13 percent and 14 percent of all U.S. adults, respectively, and both groups are likely to be poorer and less educated.

In either context, public-health campaigns must reckon with the very difficult task of changing people’s behavior. Anti-smoking efforts, for example, have tried to incentivize good health choices and disincentivize bad ones, whether through cash payments to people who quit, gruesome visual warnings on cigarette packs, taxes, smoke-free zones, or employer smoking bans. Over the past 50 years, this crusade has very slowly but consistently driven change: Nearly half of Americans used to smoke; now only about one in seven does. Hundreds of thousands of lung-cancer deaths have been averted in the process.

With COVID, too, we’ve haphazardly pursued behavioral nudges to turn the hesitant into the inoculated. Governments and businesses have given lotteries and free beers a chance. Some corporations, universities, health-care systems, and local jurisdictions implemented mandates. But many good ideas have turned out to be of little benefit: A randomized trial in nursing homes published in January, for example, found that an intensive information-and-persuasion campaign from community leaders had failed to budge vaccination rates among the predominantly disadvantaged and low-income staff. Despite the altruistic efforts of public-health professionals and physicians, it’s becoming harder by the day to reach immunological holdouts. Booster uptake is also lagging far behind.

This is where the “new normal” of COVID might come to resemble our decades-long battle with tobacco. We should neither expect that every stubbornly unvaccinated person will get jabbed before next winter nor despair that none of them will ever change their mind. Let’s accept instead that we may make headway slowly, and with considerable effort. This plausible outcome has important, if uncomfortable, policy implications. With a vaccination timeline that stretches over years, our patience for restrictions, especially on the already vaccinated, will be very limited. But there is middle ground. We haven’t banned tobacco outright—in fact, most states protect smokers from job discrimination—but we have embarked on a permanent, society-wide campaign of disincentivizing its use. Long-term actions for COVID might include charging the unvaccinated a premium on their health insurance, just as we do for smokers, or distributing frightening health warnings about the perils of remaining uninoculated. And once the political furor dies down, COVID shots will probably be added to the lists of required vaccinations for many more schools and workplaces.

To compare vaccine resistance and smoking seems to overlook an obvious and important difference: COVID is an infectious disease and tobacco use isn’t. (Tobacco is also addictive in a physiological sense, while vaccine resistance isn’t.) Many pandemic restrictions are based on the idea that any individual’s behavior may pose a direct health risk to everyone else. People who get vaccinated don’t just protect themselves from COVID; they reduce their risk of passing on the disease to those around them, at least for some limited period of time. Even during the Omicron wave, that protective effect has appeared significant: A person who has received a booster is 67 percent less likely to test positive for the virus than an unvaccinated person.

But the harms of tobacco can also be passed along from smokers to their peers. Secondhand-smoke inhalation causes more than 41,000 deaths annually in the U.S. (a higher mortality rate than some flu seasons’). Yet despite smoking’s well-known risks, many states don’t completely ban the practice in public venues; secondhand-smoke exposure in private homes and cars—affecting 25 percent of U.S. middle- and high-school children—remains largely unregulated. The general acceptance of these bleak outcomes, for smokers and nonsmokers alike, may hint at another aspect of where we’re headed with COVID. Tobacco is lethal enough that we are willing to restrict smokers’ personal freedoms—but only to a degree. As deadly as COVID is, some people won’t get vaccinated, no matter what, and both the vaccinated and unvaccinated will spread disease to others. A large number of excess deaths could end up being tolerated or even explicitly permitted. Noel Brewer, a public-health professor at the University of North Carolina, told me that anti-COVID actions, much like anti-smoking policies, will be limited not by their effectiveness but by the degree to which they are politically palatable.

Without greater vaccination, living with COVID could mean enduring a yearly death toll that is an order of magnitude higher than the one from flu. And yet this, too, might come to feel like its own sort of ending. Endemic tobacco use causes hundreds of thousands of casualties, year after year after year, while fierce public-health efforts to reduce its toll continue in the background. Yet tobacco doesn’t really feel like a catastrophe for the average person. Noymer, of UC Irvine, said that the effects of endemic COVID, even in the context of persistent gaps in vaccination, would hardly be noticeable. Losing a year or two from average life expectancy only bumps us back to where we were in … 2000.

Chronic problems eventually yield to acclimation, rendering them relatively imperceptible. We still care for smokers when they get sick, of course, and we reduce harm whenever possible. The health-care system makes $225 billion every year for doing so—paid out of all of our tax dollars and insurance premiums. I have no doubt that the system will adapt in this way, too, if the coronavirus continues to devastate the unvaccinated. Hospitals have a well-honed talent for transforming any terrible situation into a marketable “center of excellence.”

COVID is likely to remain a leading killer for a while, and some academics have suggested that pandemics end only when the public stops caring. But we shouldn’t forget the most important reason that the coronavirus isn’t like the flu: We’ve never had vaccines this effective in the midst of prior influenza outbreaks, which means we didn’t have a simple, clear approach to saving quite so many lives. Compassionate conversations, community outreach, insurance surcharges, even mandates—I’ll take them all. Now is not the time to quit.




Thursday, February 17, 2022

Covid survivors are up to 40% more likely to go on to suffer depression and anxiety or misuse drugs

The government response to your getting covid would depress anyone -- isolation etc

Covid survivors are at increased risk of suffering depression, sleep problems and drug misuse, a major US study has found.

A growing body of research has linked beating the virus to health problems months down the line such as fatigue and brain fog.

But now a study of 150,000 people has linked the infection with much more severe mental health problems.

Researchers found Covid survivors were 40 per cent more likely to be depressed or struggle sleeping, and 20 per cent more likely to abuse substances within a year of catching Covid.

They also had a slightly higher risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicidal thoughts and panic attacks.

And the more severe their infection was, the more likely they were to report a mental health issue, which suggests Covid may be playing a role.

The paper — published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) — was observational and could not establish a cause.

But depression and anxiety are already linked to 'long Covid', an umbrella term that covers a range of ailments people experience after an infection.

Evidence is already mounting that Covid damages blood vessels, including ones in the brain, which could explain the lingering symptoms.

Researchers from St Louis University looked at 150,000 military veterans who were mostly male, in their 60s and tested positive up to January 2021. Participants were tracked for a year.

They were compared to a group of 5.6million veterans who had not caught the virus by this date.

There were roughly 15 extra cases of depression per 1,000 people among the Covid survivors group.

Suicidal thoughts were around 46 per cent more common among those who caught the virus, with about two extra cases per 1,000 people.

They were also more likely to suffer sleeping problems, with 24 extra cases per 1,000 people.

Scientists found higher rates of alcohol and drug misuse among Covid survivors as well, at four and two extra cases per 1,000 respectively.

While the study was observational, researchers pointed to previous studies showing Covid infections — particularly severe bouts — can reduce blood flow to the brain and damage neurons to explain their findings.

Why are Covid survivors more likely to have mental health problems?

Research from early in the pandemic suggested that those who caught Covid were more likely to suffer mental health problems.

But scientists have not been able to say why this is the case.

Anxiety rates were higher during the early days because of the virus as lockdowns were imposed and restrictions introduced.

Scientists say catching Covid may have led to further raised stress because it was a new disease.

They added that the stress of lockdowns was likely adding to the pressure.

But being forced off work, isolated from family and unable to exercise while suffering from the disease were also thought to play a role.

Of those in the study who caught Covid, 20,996 (14 per cent) were admitted to hospital with severe disease.

Hospitalised Covid patients were 243 per cent more likely to suffer a mental health problem, at a rate of 177 extra cases per 1,000 people.

But those who did not have a severe infection were still 40 per cent more likely to suffer mentally, or 31 extra cases per 1,000.

Overall, scientists said people who caught Covid were 60 per cent more likely to have a mental health disorder or prescription than those who did not catch Covid.

Participants in the most recent study were recruited from the US Department of Veterans Affairs national healthcare database.

Most were men (89 per cent), and classified as obese (45 per cent) or overweight (35 per cent).

Weight is one of the biggest risk factors for Covid, with those who are obese being three times more likely to die from the disease studies suggest.

Previous research has linked surviving Covid with mental health problems.

One paper from Oxford University published in April last year found one in three survivors were diagnosed with depression, anxiety or other issues within six months of beating the virus.

And a separate paper from Milan University found more than half of the most severely ill patients later developed psychiatric problems — including PTSD.

Dr Max Taquet, a psychiatrist at Oxford University who was not involved in the study, said: 'This is a well-conducted study which confirms the findings from several previous studies showing that after Covid infection, patients are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders.

'While the data is limited to US Veterans, other studies representative of the larger population have found similar findings.

'The fact that patients appear to still be at an increased risk 12 months after their Covid diagnosis is concerning, but whether this represents delayed diagnoses or new onset of mental illness remains to be determined.'


Danish health chiefs dismiss doom-mongering claims that Covid deaths and hospitalisations are soaring since country became first to ditch its final virus restrictions

Danish health chiefs have taken to social media to debunk doom-mongering claims that Covid hospitalisation and death rates are both soaring after dropping nearly all of its virus curbs.

Experts at the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), the Government agency responsible for pandemic preparedness, are publicly dismissing misinformation about the state of the Scandinavian nation's outbreak.

Daily Covid cases and hospitalisations have reached record highs in February, while deaths are nearly level with previous peaks and trending upwards.

But the agency has now hit back at backlash and insisted that soaring tolls are being driven by 'incidental' cases — mirroring a trend seen in the UK.

Denmark became the first country in Europe to lift all domestic Covid restrictions at the start of the month, ending rules on face coverings, vaccine passports and work from home guidance. Only self-isolation rules remain.

Critics of the move, which England is set to follow next week, argue it is dangerous because it increases the risk of a more severe variant emerging.

Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), accused the Danish Government of 'losing their frigging minds' by releasing Covid restrictions.

And Dr Eric Topol, a cardiologist at US research centre Scripts Research, warned the country's Covid outbreak is 'not looking good', highlighting that daily deaths are at '67 per cent' of the previous peak and have a 'steep ascent'.


On February 1, Denmark became the first country in Europe to lift all Covid curbs, ending rules on face coverings, vaccine passports and work from home guidance.

Following the move, daily Covid cases and hospitalisations have reached record highs in February, while deaths are nearly level with previous peaks and trending upwards.

Nearly 60,000 infections, 451 hospitalisations and 38 deaths were recorded per day at peaks over the last fortnight.

The data has given fuel for scientists to argue that the country's approach isn't working.

But Government scientists argued that incidental virus hospitalisations and deaths are on the rise as society opens up.

The country, which counts virus fatalities as deaths within 30 days of testing positive on a PCR test, saw 5.21 deaths per million people registered yesterday.

This marked the highest daily tally since its peak last winter, according to the Oxford University-backed statistical platform Our World in Data.

But the SSI scientists said this figure includes all deaths among people infected with the virus, rather than those which were caused by the virus.

They said: 'Since Omicron became the dominant variant in Denmark a lot of people get infected.

'An increase in numbers of infected also makes it easier for a person to die a number of days after an infection without having anything to do with the Omicron infection.'

The SSI said this means 'having an increase in number of infected persons will also have an increase in the number of persons' counted as Covid deaths.

For exactly the same reason, the scientists also dismissed claims 'many people are hospitalised' because of Covid.

Official figures show 300,000 people tested positive last week, but just 2,400 were admitted to hospital.

And four in 10 coronavirus admissions are now primarily being treated for another cause, according to Government data.

The SSI said the proportion of Covid patients who are hospitalised because they are unwell with the virus has been falling since July.

The agency also disregarded claims that Denmark has decided Covid 'does not exist anymore' as 'incorrect'.

Covid is still circulating but is not considered 'an infection critical to society', the SSI said.

The dominant Omicron strain is milder than previous variants and 81.5 per cent of the population have received two vaccine doses, which 'largely protects against severe disease', it said.

'Therefore, Covid does not have the same impact on society and the population as earlier in the pandemic,' the scientists said.

This allowed virus curbs to be lifted on February 1 but the 'Danish authorities very much acknowledge the presence of Covid', according to the SSI.

Danish people are still advised to wear face masks and show vaccine passports at hospitals and care homes, while students are advised to test regularly.




Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Eli Lilly monoclonal antibody Covid drug received FDA authorization

A new monoclonal antibody drug has become available in the U.S., as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Ely Lilly's bebtelovimab for use in non-hospitalized Covid patients who are at a high risk of severe complications from the virus.

The move comes only weeks after the agency pulled authorization from another monoclonal antibody treatment produced by Eli Lilly - along with a drug produced by Regeneron - since they were deemed to be ineffective against the Omicron variant.

This drug showed effectiveness against the strain that now makes up nearly 100 percent of active cases in the U.S., though, and will soon begin to be administered to infected patients.

Monoclonal antibody drugs were considered to be the top treatment for the virus after a person was already infected, though administering the drugs is very resource intensive so officials have instead showed preference towards antiviral pills like molnupiravir and Paxlovid in recent weeks.

'Today's action makes available another monoclonal antibody that shows activity against omicron, at a time when we are seeking to further increase supply,' said Dr Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

'This authorization is an important step in meeting the need for more tools to treat patients as new variants of the virus continue to emerge.'

The United States has already purchased 600,000 doses of the drug for $720 million, which will be distributed for free to Americans in need. The deal was pending FDA authorization.

Before July 31, the U.S. is allowed to purchase 500,000 more doses at a pre-arraigned price.

Trials for the drug included two parts, one with a low risk and one with a high risk population group.

The low risk group included 380 people, and the drug was tested alone and alongside other similar drugs. The FDA reports the trials found a 'sustained' resolution of symptoms among people who received the drug.

A second trial for high risk individuals included 150 patients. There was no placebo group in this trial, with half the patients receiving bebtelovimab alone and half receiving it mixed with another drug.

The drug was effective at preventing hospitalization and death from Covid in the high risk group as well, and it is equally effective when used alone as it is when used along with another available monoclonal antibody drug.

Monoclonal antibody drugs were the most effective treatment against the virus until very recently when more effective, easier to administer, antiviral pills began to hit the market.

The antibodies are still valuable tools, though. The drugs pump a person's body full of virus fighting antibodies that are similar to those generated by vaccination or natural immunity from previous infection.

Those antibodies then assist a person's immune system in stopping the virus from replicating and neutralizing infected cells.

The drugs have been a favorite of some conservative politicians like former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov Ron DeSantis.

Monoclonal antibody drugs do come with some major downsides. Some experts believe a focus on them, especially in conservative circles, has given the indication that the drug can replace the vaccines - which the FDA notes is not the case.

Administering the drugs can be a challenge for hospitals as well, especially during times where they are near capacity due to case surges.

A patient receiving the drugs requires constant monitoring and also a lot of tubing and machinery. Monoclonal antibodies are also significantly more expensive than the vaccines.

The FDA pulling the drugs last month for being ineffective against Omicron was a controversial decision that DeSantis described as 'authoritarianism'.

The agency stood by its decision, though, and has no brought Eli Lilly's monoclonal antibodies back into the mix with this recent authorization.


Could antihistamines help with long COVID?: Scientists launch study after healthcare worker took pills by accident and her symptoms eased

Antihistamines could provide relief for millions of people suffering from the painful and debilitating symptoms of long COVID that can be so severe that daily life can be affected.

The effects of COVID-19 on individuals can range from mild symptoms to several weeks of illness, but various ailments including brain fog, joint pain and fatigue can last for months after the initial infection - collectively known as long COVID.

The realization that antihistamines could provide some relief came by chance after two otherwise healthy, active middle-aged women with long COVID found that the pills helped.

Both women, who have not been identified, were taking over-the-counter antihistamines to treat other conditions.

The first woman, a healthcare worker in her 40s, triggered a dairy allergy by eating cheese, and the second woman had run out of the allergy medication she usually took, and experienced improved cognition and far less fatigue the following morning.

In the first instance, the woman with long COVID-19 was unable to do exercise and would suffer from chest pain, headaches, a rash and bruising, while the second had to deal with joint and abdominal pain, as well as the rashes and lesions known as 'COVID toes.' She is believed to have been one of the first people in the United States to fall ill with COVID.

In the first case, after accidentally eating some cheese about six months into having long COVID she took a 50 mg pill of the antihistamine diphenhydramine, and suddenly noticed her fatigue had virtually disappeared.

The woman did not take another antihistamine for 72 hours; when her symptoms reappeared, she took the medication and again found relief.

Her doctor then prescribed a daily antihistamine dosage that significantly reduced her long COVID-19 symptoms. She ultimately reported she had regained 90 percent of her pre-COVID-19 daily function. Nine months later, she is said to be still doing well.

In the second case, the woman took a different over-the-counter antihistamine as a substitute for what she had taken for years to manage her seasonal allergies.

She noticed that her long COVID-19 fatigue and overall cognition had improved. She also continued to take it daily together with other allergy medicine.

The second woman also found that she significantly reduced her additional long COVID-19 symptoms regaining 95 percent of her overall functioning, prior to contracting the illness.

Both cases were examined by nursing scholars at the University of California, Irvine with the findings published in the Journal for Nurse Practitioners.

'Patients tell us they wish more than anything that they could work and do the most basic activities they used to before they got sick with long COVID. They are desperately searching for something to help them get back on their feet,' said report author, Melissa Pinto, associate professor of nursing at UC Irvine to UCI News.

'Currently, there is no cure for [for long COVID], only symptom management. A number of options are being tried, with antihistamines being one of them. The possibility that an easy-to-access, over-the-counter medication could ease some of the symptoms should offer hope to the estimated 54 million people worldwide who have been in distress for months or even years.'

If correct, it would tally what had been found in earlier studies including those documented in the Journal of Investigative Medicine and Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, which also showed similar benefits to using antihistamines to treat long COVID.

'Most patients tell us that providers have not recommended anything that has helped. If patients wish to try over-the-counter antihistamines, I urge them to do so under medical supervision. And because providers may not know about new potential treatments, I would encourage patients to be active in their care and consider taking research and case reports like ours to appointments with providers so they can help create a regimen that will work,' Pinto said.

'The next steps for this research into antihistamine treatment are to conduct broad-based trials in order to evaluate efficacy and to develop dosage schedules for clinical practice guidelines.'


Astonishing list highlighting what's REALLY causing Covid-19 deaths in Australia: 'It wasn't Covid that claimed their lives'

There were 2,639 Covid-related deaths nationally between March 2020 and January 31 - of which 2,556 (96.8 per cent) had an underlying health condition - according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

There were 32,000 deaths from heart disease in Australia in that period, with Covid deaths making up only one per cent of all fatalities nationwide.

Another 100,000 died from cancer during those 22 months.

'We're not overplaying the situation and we're not ignoring the victims,' the 2GB host said. 'But these records expose the overblown scare campaign we've witnessed.

'Ninety-two per cent had other underlying health issues - an average of three [underlying health issues] per person. It wasn't Covid that claimed their lives.'

Those underlying health issues ranged from pneumonia to kidney infection or chronic heart illnesses, according to the ABS data.

Fordham said the health advice during Australia's lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 should have focused more on countering one of the worst Covid co-morbities- obesity.

'Why aren't we warning people that one of the biggest risk factors is carrying around too much weight,' he said. 'Were we worried about fat-shaming?'

The US, where 16 states have obesity rates of higher than 35 per cent, has the world's highest Covid death rate with 947,895 fatalities.

The 2GB host said it wasn't 'overplaying the situation' to say the new records expose 'the overblown scare campaign we've witnessed'




Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Denial of Natural Immunity in Vaccine Mandates Unprecedented

COVID-19 injection mandates raise glaring questions, with a key one revolving around natural immunity. Your immune system is designed to work in response to exposure to an infectious agent. Your adaptive immune system, specifically, generates antibodies that are used to fight pathogens that your body has previously encountered.

If you’ve had COVID-19, the research is strong that you’re well protected against reinfection. New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even show that prior COVID-19 infection, i.e., natural immunity, is more protective than COVID-19 injections.

However, people with natural immunity continue to be discriminated against and are still expected to get double- or triple-jabbed in order to comply with vaccine mandates — an unprecedented move in history.

‘Unprecedented’ Denial of Natural Immunity

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a vaccine mandate at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The mandate affects 10.4 million health care workers employed at 76,000 medical facilities, making no exceptions for those who have natural immunity to COVID-19 due to prior infection.

Speaking with The Epoch Times, Dr. Scott Atlas, a former White House COVID-19 Task Force adviser, called the SCOTUS ruling “another denial of scientific fact,” adding:

“Our continued denial of superior protection in recovered individuals, with or without vaccination, compared to vaccinated individuals who’ve never had the infection … the denial of that is simply unprecedented in modern history. Proven fact and decades of fundamental immunology are somehow denied. If we are a society where the leaders repeatedly deny the fact, I’m very concerned about the future of such a society.”

While upholding the vaccine mandate for medical facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments, SCOTUS blocked a White House mandate that would have required private companies with 100 or more employees to ensure staff have gotten a COVID-19 injection or were tested regularly for COVID-19 — or face steep fines.

The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was supposed to be in charge of enforcing the rule, which would have affected more than 80 million U.S. workers. Of their decision, the court noted:

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly. Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”

Despite the private business vaccine mandate being struck down, the White House urged states and businesses to voluntarily enact sweeping vaccine mandates, again ignoring the fact that many people are already naturally immune.

World No. 1 tennis player Novak Djokovic is a prime example — despite previously having COVID-19, and therefore having acquired natural immunity, he was barred from playing at the Australian Open because he didn’t get the COVID-19 injection.

Natural COVID-19 Immunity Superior to Shot-Derived Immunity

Data from New York and California health officials, published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show that people who had previously had COVID-19 were far better protected against COVID-19 infection with the Delta variant than people who had been jabbed. The report states:

“By the week beginning October 3, compared with COVID-19 cases rates among unvaccinated persons without a previous COVID-19 diagnosis, case rates among vaccinated persons without a previous COVID-19 diagnosis were 6.2-fold (California) and 4.5-fold (New York) lower; rates were substantially lower among both groups with previous COVID-19 diagnoses, including 29.0-fold (California) and 14.7-fold lower (New York) among unvaccinated persons with a previous diagnosis, and 32.5-fold (California) and 19.8-fold lower (New York) among vaccinated persons with a previous diagnosis of COVID-19.

During the same period, compared with hospitalization rates among unvaccinated persons without a previous COVID-19 diagnosis, hospitalization rates in California followed a similar pattern. 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.

Importantly, infection-derived protection was higher after the Delta variant became predominant, a time when vaccine-induced immunity for many persons declined because of immune evasion and immunologic waning.”

In another study, researchers reviewed studies published in PubMed and found that the risk of reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 decreased by 80.5% to 100% among people who had previously had COVID-19. Additional research cited in their review found:

Among 9,119 people who had previously had COVID-19, only 0.7% became reinfected.

At the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, the incidence rate of COVID-19 among those who had not previously been infected was 4.3 per 100 people; the COVID-19 incidence rate among those who had previously been infected was zero per 100 people.

The frequency of hospitalization due to a repeated COVID-19 infection was five per14,840 people, or .03%, according to an Austrian study; the frequency of death due to a repeated infection was one per 14,840 people, or .01%.

Given these findings, the researchers concluded that previous infection status should be documented and recovered patients counseled on their risk for reinfection. They stated:

“Given the evidence of immunity from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, however, policy makers should consider recovery from previous SARS-CoV-2 infection equal to immunity from vaccination for purposes related to entry to public events, businesses, and the workplace, or travel requirements.”

It’s Rare to Get Reinfected by SARS-CoV-2

In a letter to the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Roberto Bertollini of the Ministry of Public Health in Doha, Qatar, and colleagues estimated the efficacy of natural immunity against reinfection by comparing data in the national cohort.

They found that immunity acquired from previous infection was 92.3% effective against reinfection with the beta variant and 97.6% effective against reinfection with the alpha variant. Protection persisted even one year after the primary infection.

Researchers from Ireland also conducted a systematic review including 615,777 people who had recovered from COVID-19, with a maximum duration of follow-up of more than 10 months. “Reinfection was an uncommon event,” they noted, “… with no study reporting an increase in the risk of reinfection over time.” The absolute reinfection rate ranged from zero percent to 1.1%, while the median reinfection rate was just 0.27%.15,16,17

Another study revealed similarly reassuring results. It followed 43,044 SARS-CoV-2 antibody-positive people for up to 35 weeks, and only 0.7% were reinfected. When genome sequencing was applied to estimate population-level risk of reinfection, the risk was estimated at 0.1%.

Again, there was no indication of waning immunity over seven months of follow-up, with the researchers concluding, “Reinfection is rare. Natural infection appears to elicit strong protection against reinfection with an efficacy >90% for at least seven months.”

Another study from Israel also had researchers questioning “the need to vaccinate previously-infected individuals,” after their analysis showed similar risks of reinfection among those with vaccine-induced or natural immunity. Specifically, vaccination had an overall estimated efficacy of preventing reinfection of 92.8%, compared to 94.8% for natural immunity acquired via prior infection.

Evidence from Washington University School of Medicine also shows long-lasting immunity to COVID-19 exists in those who’ve recovered from the natural infection. At both seven months and 11 months after infection, most of the participants had bone marrow plasma cells (BMPCs) that secreted antibodies specific for the spike protein encoded by SARS-CoV-2.

The BMPCs were found in amounts similar to those found in people who had been vaccinated against tetanus or diphtheria, which are considered to provide long-lasting immunity. “Overall, our data provide strong evidence that SARS-CoV-2 infection in humans robustly establishes the two arms of humoral immune memory: long-lived BMPCs and memory B cells,” the researchers noted.

This is among the best available evidence of long-lasting immunity, because this immunological memory is a distinct part of the immune system that’s essential to long-term protection, beyond the initial immune response to the virus.

Getting the Shot May Be Worse After Prior Infection

If you’ve had COVID-19, getting injected may pose an even greater risk, to the extent that Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, Ph.D., a cardiac surgeon and patient advocate, has repeatedly warned the FDA that “clear and present danger” exists for those who have had COVID-19 and subsequently get the injection.

At issue are viral antigens that remain in your body after you are naturally infected. The immune response reactivated by the COVID-19 injection can trigger inflammation in tissues where the viral antigens are present. The inner lining of blood vessels, the lungs and the brain may be particularly at risk of such inflammation and damage.25 Writing in Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers also explained:

“Some people who have recovered from COVID-19 might not benefit from COVID-19 vaccination. In fact, one study found that previous COVID-19 was associated with increased adverse events following vaccination with the Comirnaty BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine (Pfizer–BioNTech). In addition, there are rare reports of serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination.”

As it stands, the U.S. CDC continues to push universal injections, despite past infection status, and natural immunity is not considered adequate to enter the growing number of venues requiring vaccine passports. This isn’t the case in Switzerland, where residents who have had COVID-19 in the past 12 months are considered to be equally as protected as those who’ve been injected.

The end-goal of vaccine passports, though, isn’t to simply track one shot. Your entire identity, including your medical history, finances, sexual orientation and much more, could soon be stored in a mobile app that’s increasingly required to partake in society. While some might call this convenience, others would call it oppression.

You can fight back against vaccine mandates and their related vaccine passports by not supporting establishments that require proof of a shot or a negative test, and avoiding all digital identities and vaccine ID passports offered as a means of increasing “access” or “convenience.”

Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

<a href=""></a> (EDUCATION WATCH)

<a href=""></a> (GREENIE WATCH)


<a href=""></a> (AUSTRALIAN POLITICS)

<a href=""></a> (TONGUE-TIED)


Monday, February 14, 2022

Hugely important study published in Nature finds that having Covid significantly increases the long-term risk of developing a wide range of cardiovascular diseases, including heart failure, stroke, myocarditis, arrythmia, blood clots in the lungs

Long-term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19


The cardiovascular complications of acute coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are well described, but the post-acute cardiovascular manifestations of COVID-19 have not yet been comprehensively characterized. Here we used national healthcare databases from the US Department of Veterans Affairs to build a cohort of 153,760 individuals with COVID-19, as well as two sets of control cohorts with 5,637,647 (contemporary controls) and 5,859,411 (historical controls) individuals, to estimate risks and 1-year burdens of a set of pre-specified incident cardiovascular outcomes. We show that, beyond the first 30 d after infection, individuals with COVID-19 are at increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease spanning several categories, including cerebrovascular disorders, dysrhythmias, ischemic and non-ischemic heart disease, pericarditis, myocarditis, heart failure and thromboembolic disease. These risks and burdens were evident even among individuals who were not hospitalized during the acute phase of the infection and increased in a graded fashion according to the care setting during the acute phase (non-hospitalized, hospitalized and admitted to intensive care). Our results provide evidence that the risk and 1-year burden of cardiovascular disease in survivors of acute COVID-19 are substantial. Care pathways of those surviving the acute episode of COVID-19 should include attention to cardiovascular health and disease.


Government action caused excess Covid deaths

Here is our detailed scientific study from the best all-cause mortality data by time, age, jurisdiction, gender... compared to state-population characteristics...:

The abstract of our landmark paper is:

We investigate why the USA, unlike Canada and Western European countries, has a sustained exceedingly large mortality in the “COVID-era” occurring from March 2020 to present (October 2021). All-cause mortality by time is the most reliable data for detecting true catastrophic events causing death, and for gauging the population-level impact of any surge in deaths from any cause. The behaviour of the USA all-cause mortality by time (week, year), by age group, by sex, and by state is contrary to pandemic behaviour caused by a new respiratory disease virus for which there is no prior natural immunity in the population. Its seasonal structure (summer maxima), age-group distribution (young residents), and large state-wise heterogeneity are unprecedented and are opposite to viral respiratory disease behaviour, pandemic or not. We conclude that a pandemic did not occur.

We infer that persistent chronic psychological stress induced by the long-lasting government-imposed societal and economic transformations during the COVID-era converted the existing societal (poverty), public-health (obesity) and hot-climate risk factors into deadly agents, largely acting together, with devastating population-level consequences against large pools of vulnerable and disadvantaged residents of the USA, far above preexisting pre-COVID-era mortality in those pools. We also find a large COVID-era USA pneumonia epidemic that is not mentioned in the media or significantly in the scientific literature, which was not adequately addressed. Many COVID-19-assigned deaths may be misdiagnosed bacterial pneumonia deaths. The massive vaccination campaign (380 M administered doses, 178 M fully vaccinated individuals, mainly January-August 2021 and March-August 2021, respectively) had no detectable mitigating effect, and may have contributed to making the younger population more vulnerable (35-64 years, summer-2021 mortality).


Britain's unethical Covid messaging must never be repeated

Dr Gary Sidley

Over the last two years – under the guise of a Covid-19 communications strategy – the British people have faced a psychologic bombardment from their own government.

Who can forget the constant images during the pandemic warning people to stay indoors to ‘save lives’, students being told that breaking the rules would be ‘killing their granny’, or the ‘Look him in the eyes’ campaign, which showed Covid patients in hospital wearing an oxygen mask, imploring people to never bend the rules and to keep a ‘safe distance’ from others. Even now, as the number of Covid cases continues to fall, we are surrounded by billboards showing black Covid particles hanging in the air like smoke, enveloping people going about their everyday lives.

The consequences of this unprecedented state-sanctioned campaign have been visible everywhere: from the old lady in the street, paralysed with fear of contamination from another human, darting into the road to avoid someone walking the other way, to the neighbour donning a face covering and plastic gloves to wheel the dustbin to the end of her drive. These kinds of incidents are the product of an intensive messaging campaign, designed by the government’s behavioural scientists, to ‘nudge’ us into compliance with the Covid-19 restrictions and the subsequent vaccine rollout.

The deployment of behavioural science as a means of inducing people to adopt what the state deems to be the ‘right’ actions gained impetus with the advent of the ‘Behavioural Insight Team’ (BIT) in 2010. From humble beginnings as a seven-person unit working with the UK government, the BIT has rapidly expanded to become a ‘social purpose company’ operating in many countries across the world.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, several BIT members – along with other psychologists with ‘nudging’ expertise – have been an integral part of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviour (SPI-B), a Sage subgroup tasked with advising government about how to maximise the impact of its pandemic communications strategy. Behavioural science expertise is also deployed across many other areas of government.

Human beings spend 99 per cent of their time on automatic pilot, making moment-by-moment decisions without conscious reflection. Although this is cognitively efficient, it also leaves us vulnerable to behavioural-science ‘nudges’ which can shape our actions without us knowing. Behavioural scientists have a range of techniques at their disposal (as described in a Cabinet Office and Institute for Government ‘Mindspace’ report published in 2010) and many of them have been woven into the Covid-19 messaging campaign.

But three particular interventions during the pandemic raise major ethical concerns: fear inflation, equating compliance with virtue and the encouragement of peer pressure to conform. The use of these covert psychological strategies infringe the basic ethical principles of psychological practice.

It can be argued that a civilised society should not strategically frighten, shame and scapegoat its citizens as a way to increase compliance. This deliberate creation of distress resembles the tactics used by regimes to eliminate beliefs and behaviours that the state thinks is deviant.

And the collateral damage associated with these methods is considerable. It is likely that fear inflation may have significantly contributed to non-Covid excess deaths recorded during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the shaming and scapegoating of the those deemed to be non-compliers has inevitable created minority outgroups (the unvaccinated, for example) that others feel empowered to vilify and verbally abuse.

Second, behavioural scientists have routinely infringed a sacrosanct cornerstone of ethical practice: the need to obtain a recipient’s informed consent prior to the delivery of a medical or psychological intervention. Professor David Halpern (chief executive of the BIT and a Sage member), co-authored the 2010 ‘Mindspace’ document that explicitly recognised the significant ethical dilemmas associated with ‘nudges’ that act subconsciously on their targets. The report noted then that ‘Policymakers wishing to use these tools… need the approval of the public to do so’. No attempt has yet been made to obtain the public’s permission to use these psychological interventions.

Attempts by psychologists and behavioural scientists to justify the use of ‘nudges’ have, to date, been inadequate and disingenuous. The British Psychological Society (BPS) – the formal guardians of ethical psychological practice in the UK – when challenged about the morality of these covert psychological strategies, claimed that members involved in these practices were exempt from seeking consent as they had acted with ‘social responsibility’. Seemingly, the BPS believes that the government’s Covid-communications strategy was intended to influence some anonymous collective rather than the actions of as many individuals as possible.

The behavioural science tentacles extend far beyond the public health domain. For example, a recent document outlining a collaboration between Sky TV and the Behavioural Insights Team, titled The Power of TV: Nudging Viewers to De-carbonise, suggests that news, drama and documentary programmes could soon be underpinned by covert messages prompting us to adopt lifestyles that enable the realisation of the zero-carbon goal. No doubt the ‘nudgers’ would argue that they are enabling the British people to do the right thing, but who decides what is ‘right’? In democratic societies desirable goals, and subsequent policies are typically included in political parties’ election manifestoes and voted for (or rejected) via the ballot box, rather than being unilaterally determined by the state.

In light of these escalating concerns about the government’s deployment of behavioural science, I – together with 54 other health professionals – have written an open letter to the Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee (a Commons select committee chaired by William Wragg MP) to formally request an independent inquiry into the government’s use of covert psychological strategies. Denying individuals rational choices, and an over-reliance upon subliminal influence, is both unethical and undemocratic. Transparency regarding how government departments use ‘nudge’ techniques is now long overdue.




Sunday, February 13, 2022

Big controlled study of Ivermectin as a preventive

The only thing holding up official acceptance of Ivermectin is that Trump recommended it

They Just Issued Mandatory Ivermectin Use, What Happened Next…
Another proof that will slap the left about their disbelief on Ivermectin’s potential.

Previously, Dr. Volnei José Morastoni, City Mayor of Itajaí, a southern city in Brazil in the state of Santa Catarina has announced a citywide use of Ivermectin against COVID-19.

NIH Website reported that Mayor Volnei has distributed Ivermectin kits totaling 1.5 million tablets to the residents of Itajaí.

A comprehensive study confirms that regular usage of ivermectin as a prophylactic agent was associated with significantly reduced COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death rates. The ivermectin non-users were two times more likely to die of COVID-19 than ivermectin users in the overall population analysis.

The summary of the study:

Materials and methods: We analyzed data from a prospective, observational study of the citywide COVID-19 prevention with ivermectin program, which was conducted between July 2020 and December 2020 in Itajaí, Brazil. Study design, institutional review board approval, and analysis of registry data occurred after completion of the program. The program consisted of inviting the entire population of Itajaí to a medical visit to enroll in the program and to compile baseline, personal, demographic, and medical information. In the absence of contraindications, ivermectin was offered as an optional treatment to be taken for two consecutive days every 15 days at a dose of 0.2 mg/kg/day. In cases where a participating citizen of Itajaí became ill with COVID-19, they were recommended not to use ivermectin or any other medication in early outpatient treatment. Clinical outcomes of infection, hospitalization, and death were automatically reported and entered into the registry in real-time. Study analysis consisted of comparing ivermectin users with non-users using cohorts of infected patients propensity scores matched by age, sex, and comorbidities. COVID-19 infection and mortality rates were analyzed with and without the use of propensity score matching (PSM).

Results: Of the 223,128 citizens of Itajaí considered for the study, a total of 159,561 subjects were included in the analysis: 113,845 (71.3% of the population above 18 years old) regular ivermectin users and 45,716 (23.3%) non-users. Of these, 4,311 ivermectin users were infected, among which 4,197 were from the city of Itajaí (3.7% infection rate), and 3,034 non-users (from Itajaí) were infected (6.6% infection rate), with a 44% reduction in COVID-19 infection rate (risk ratio [RR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.53-0.58; p < 0.0001). Using PSM, two cohorts of 3,034 subjects suffering from COVID-19 infection were compared. The regular use of ivermectin led to a 68% reduction in COVID-19 mortality (25 [0.8%] versus 79 [2.6%] among ivermectin non-users; RR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.20-0.49; p < 0.0001). When adjusted for residual variables, reduction in mortality rate was 70% (RR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.19-0.46; p < 0.0001). There was a 56% reduction in hospitalization rate (44 versus 99 hospitalizations among ivermectin users and non-users, respectively; RR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.31-0.63; p < 0.0001). After adjustment for residual variables, reduction in hospitalization rate was 67% (RR, 0.33; 95% CI, 023-0.66; p < 0.0001).

Of the 113,845 prophylaxed subjects from the city of Itajaí, 4,197 had a positive RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 (3.7% infection rate), while 3,034 of the 37,027 untreated subjects had positive RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 (6.6% infection rate), a 44% reduction in COVID-19 infection rate (risk ratio [RR], 0.56; 95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.53-0.58; p < 0.0001). An addition of 114 subjects who used ivermectin and were infected was originally from other cities but was registered as part of the program, in a total of 4,311 positive cases among ivermectin users. For the present analysis, the 4,311 positive cases among subjects that used ivermectin and 3,034 cases among subjects that did not use ivermectin were considered. After PSM, two cohorts of 3,034 subjects were created.

Baseline characteristics of the 7,345 subjects included before PSM and the baseline characteristics of the 6,068 subjects in the matched groups are shown in Table 1. Prior to PSM, ivermectin users had a higher percentage of subjects over 50 years old (p < 0.0001), higher prevalence of T2D (p = 0.0004), hypertension (p < 0.0001), and CVD (p = 0.03), and a higher percentage of Caucasians (p = 0.004), than non-users. After PSM, all baseline parameters were similar between groups

After employing PSM, of the 6,068 subjects (3,034 in each group), there were 44 hospitalizations among ivermectin users (1.6% hospitalization rate) and 99 hospitalizations (3.3% hospitalization rate) among ivermectin non-users, a 56% reduction in hospitalization rate (RR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.31-0.63). When adjustment for variables was employed, the reduction in hospitalization rate was 67% (RR, 0.33; 95% CI, 023-0.66; p < 0.0001).


Where do we stand with Omicron?

There has been a flood of new data in the past few weeks regarding Omicron’s impact throughout the world, and specifically on the influence of vaccination (with or without boosters) on symptomatic infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, including durability. It’s actually remarkable how much and how quickly we are learning about Omicron and our ability to reduce its toll, considering this virus strain was reported less than 2 months ago.

The New Data

Clearly, there’s a major problem with vaccine breakthrough Omicron infections. Recall that with a booster vs Delta, the vaccine effectiveness was restored to ~95% as Ravin Gupta and I recently reviewed all of the reported studies in Science

The problem with the booster with Omicron is that instead of getting vaccine effectiveness vs infections (symptomatic or all) up to 95%, it is about 50% from 4 new reports, summarized in this Table. To date, the best study comes from Qatar with over 400,000 people boosted with either Pfizer or mRNA

The Math

That level—about 50% effectiveness for the booster (vs Omicron)—would be associated with 10-fold more breakthrough infections than seen with a 95% effectiveness (Delta) So it’s no wonder there is the public perception that Omicron breakthroughs are omnipresent, that “vaccines aren’t working”. They aren’t working well, but it isn’t true that they’re not working to protect vs infections and transmission. It’s just much less. For context, remember that the FDA criteria for approving a Covid vaccine was set at a 50% reduction of symptomatic infections, so there’s unquestionably some efficacy here, just not nearly what we’ve been accustomed to seeing.

As I was quoted in the Washington Post coverage, “A booster is essential for preventing severe disease, hospitalization and deaths,” said Eric Topol, a molecular medicine professor at Scripps Research, referring to the findings. Public health officials need to communicate clearly that although the vaccines and booster shots are “not holding up against omicron infections, they are holding up the wall against severe disease … and that’s phenomenal.”

Now let’s turn to hospitalizations where the data are extraordinary, consistent, potent protection, and by all we have to go on, very durable. There are 3 reports: the UKHSA, the Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and the new CDC MMWR as summarized in this Table. It is exceptionally rare to see such consistency in triplicate—88, 89, and 90 for booster effectiveness vs Omicron. That is substantially improved compared with 2 shots (44-68%). And, importantly, it appears to be quite durable (83-90%) after 3 months, an attrition level fully in keeping with what we have seen over time with the Delta variant. As I previously wrote, We’re very lucky. Damn lucky.

This new CDC graph compares the effectiveness of vaccination with or without a booster against Delta and Omicron hospitalizations. The 3rd dose gets to near parity for the 2 strains even though Omicron is the most immune evasive variant we’ve seen., with far more extensive waning of protection that with Delta.

There really is an Omicron booster vaccination dichotomy—protection vs infections vs protection vs severe disease (hospitalizations and deaths)—that has led to much confusion. The booster’s effect is dual: it induces neutralizing antibodies at high levels and expands memory B and T cells as previously reviewed. The latter is what really accounts for protection vs severe disease, and that also would be expected to be quite durable. Which makes the case that the 3rd shot may be long-lasting for such benefit, at least against Omicron. Early in the pandemic we focused on symptomatic infections (there primary endpoint of the pivotal clinical trials) since they tracked so closely with severe disease outcomes. That relationship markedly changed with Omicron; they are now dissociated to a substantial degree.

The new Israeli data for a 4th dose (2nd booster) vs the initial booster during its Omicron wave shows a similar pattern of reduction of infections (very) short term, but we await data regarding hospitalizations and deaths, which are incubating.

The Patterns

It is quite clear in reviewing the patterns from some of countries hit hard by Omicron that vaccination and booster rates are playing a critical role in keeping severe disease in check. One example is Portugal, with 90% 2-shot vaccinated and over 40% boosted. New cases have gotten extremely high during its Omicron wave, but the impact for ICU admits or deaths, fortunately, has been small to date.

Similar patterns, perhaps less pronounced with respect to the case vs ICU/deaths dissociation, are evident in Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, all going through Omicron waves.

However, this is a very different look from the United States, where hospitalizations have soared to a new record, ICU admits are close to their pre-vaccination phase peak, and deaths are again on a steep rise (nearly 4,000 reported yesterday, one of the highest for the US pandemic). These severe disease outcomes are likely a function of very low vaccination rates (63%) and booster rate (24%) compared with the European countries cited. It is also noteworthy that the United States was into its second Delta surge at the time when Omicron emerged in December, so these increases are superimposed. Further, in comparison to South Africa and some other countries, there are different demographics, such as age, and co-existing conditions, such as obesity or diabetes.

There’s been a lot written about Omicron’s sharp case descent, which was seen in Gauteng and throughout South Africa. But it isn’t so clearcut in other countries yet, especially normalized for reduced testing. It actually is somewhat wobbly, stuttering in the United Kingdom, one of the first countries outside of South Africa to begin its descent. So Omicron’s future trajectory isn’t clear, and we cannot rule out 2nd surges of Omicron at this point in places around the world. That occurrence may be influenced, at least in part, by the immunity wall built prior to and during the Omicron wave (from prior Covid, vaccinations and boosters), and only time will tell.

The Exit?

So where do we go from here? Is Omicron, by infecting “up to half the world’s population” going to serve as our exit ramp from pandemic to a contained, endemic state?

That isn’t clear and it would be foolish to predict that, even though that occurred this week Omicron’s going to help in building an immunity wall, but whether that will be sufficient is indeterminate. We’re so far from containing the virus at this point, enabling further accelerate evolution to a new variant that could potentially have a higher level of immune evasion (not so lucky as with Omicron), more fully evading our current vaccines, or even the Omicron-specific vaccine expected later this year.

That is why it’s so essential to push on the pan-coronavirus vaccine, oral and nasal vaccines that build mucous immunity and help block transmission, and get mass production of Paxlovid along with other safe and effective anti-Covid pills that are very likely variant-proof, not relying on our immune system.

As the Washington Post editorial board wrote today, and which I’m in total agreement":

“Ultimately, in chasing variants, we are always going to be behind the curve. Along with the immediate battle with omicron, renewed effort must be made to develop next-generation vaccines that will provide broader and longer protection and dampen transmission. Ideally, scientists will develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that encompasses all of these characteristics, capable of protecting against many — or all — known variants. That day cannot come soon enough.”

Now is not the time to rely on sharp descents and that somehow “it’s over". If that happens, and we quickly get to containment and low levels of circulating virus that are no more threatening than annual flu, terrific. It seems quite unlikely with so much of the world’s population, especially in low and middle income countries, have yet to be vaccinated. If there's one thing we learned about predicting the path of SARS-CoV-2, it’s that it’s unpredictable. So we shouldn’t plan on a rosy picture. There’s too much we can do right now to seize control in case the most optimistic scenarios don’t play out. (See the original for graphics)