Immunity

Vaccinated Hospitalised for Non-Covid Reasons at FIVE Times the Rate of the Unvaccinated, U.K. Government Data Show

Over the past 15 months we’ve had a barrage of statistics presented to us shouting about how great the vaccines are at preventing hospitalisation from (or with) Covid. However, these statistics have been light on detail on how they were calculated and we’ve not seen much sight at all of the raw data that the statistics were based upon.

Until now. In April, a paper was published by the UKHSA (currently in pre-print, which means that it hasn’t yet undergone the usual peer-review process) on its statistical analysis of a selection of hospitalisation data by vaccination status. The intent of this paper was to support its statements that the vaccines prevent hospitalisation. However, the paper also includes the raw data upon which the UKHSA statistics were derived, and these data tell a very different story to that presented by the UKHSA. The data show:

  • Far higher accident and emergency admission rates for reasons other than Covid in the vaccinated than in the unvaccinated.
  • Much higher rates of hospitalisation due to non-Covid acute respiratory illness in the vaccinated.
  • Even higher A&E admissions and hospitalisations in the double-vaccinated (not boosted).
  • Even where the data suggest that the vaccines offer some protection (the risk of admission to intensive care resulting from Covid infection) the results look like they might be an artefact created by the assumptions used by the UKHSA.

Covid Vaccines Impair Immune Response to Infection, U.S. Government Study Shows

A pre-print study (not yet peer-reviewed) by U.S. Government researchers shows vaccinated people produce a less comprehensive immune system response following SARS-CoV-2 infection than unvaccinated people.

The researchers examined data from the Moderna Covid vaccine trial and found that, compared to unvaccinated controls, vaccinated participants produced far fewer N-antibodies. These are antibodies against the nucleocapsid protein inside the virus particle, in contrast to S-antibodies against the spike protein that the vaccines target. N-antibodies were detected in 40% (21 of 52) of infected vaccine recipients versus 93% (605 of 648) of placebo recipients. This means those infected after being vaccinated produced N-antibodies at less than half the rate of the unvaccinated.

The researchers found that N-seroconversion (producing N-antibodies following infection) was more likely for infections with higher viral loads. So they checked to see if the difference was due to the vaccinated having milder infections with lower viral loads owing to the vaccine. They found that it wasn’t: for the same viral load the unvaccinated were around 14 times (13.67, 95% confidence interval 5.17-36.16) more likely to have detectable N-antibodies following infection than the vaccinated. Look at the contrasting curves below: the yellow unvaccinated curve is much higher than the blue vaccinated curve, showing that for any given viral load (x-axis) the probability of detecting N-antibodies following infection (y-axis) is much lower for vaccinated than unvaccinated.

Do Your Genes Determine How Sick You Get From COVID-19?

We’re publishing today a piece by John Collis, a recently retired nurse practitioner, in which he uses the work of Professor Daniel M. Davis to explore the role of genes in the immune system and asks whether genetic diversity between individuals and groups might explain why some people are worse affected by Covid than others. Here’s the introduction:

Why are different people affected differently by a SARS-CoV-2 infection? Through this article, based on The Compatibility Gene by Professor Daniel M. Davis, I hope to be able to provide some insight. While this is a very complex subject, with the understanding of the different components and their interactions having developed over the past 60 years or so, I will set it out as clearly as I can. To simplify matters I do not discuss here the role of cytokines or other chemical signalling between cells.

The immune system is built around the body’s ability to distinguish between components that belong there (self) and those that don’t (non-self). Pathogens such as bacteria, protozoa and parasites have very different DNA and are relatively easy to identify as non-self. Viruses are different: how does the immune system distinguish between a healthy ‘self’ cell and an infected ‘self’ cell?

The part of the immune system that is responsible for this are T-cells. T-cell production is controlled by the Thymus gland located in the chest, between the lungs. Significantly, this gland is large in children, starts to shrink post puberty and is very small in older adults. Could this explain why children are less susceptible to the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection? Could the changes in the thymus gland explain the effects being seen in teenagers and young adults? Are some of these adverse events immune system mediated?  

Worth reading in full.

Why Are Sweden and India Not Seeing a Covid Surge?

Why are some countries surging this autumn but others aren’t, at least not yet? Much of Europe is now seeing sharp rises in reported infections. In some it appears to be a delayed Delta surge, but in others like France, Netherlands, Norway and Finland it comes after an earlier summer Delta ripple that looked like it had gone away. Yet India, which had (quite literally) the mother of Delta surges, has not seen any new rise despite only 29% of its population being double-vaccinated, and despite the festivals of Diwali and Durga Puja, widely warned about as a transmission risk, taking place in the autumn.

Sweden, meanwhile, has somehow so far managed to avoid Delta surges altogether, after being hit relatively hard in spring 2020 and winter 2020-21. The country famously imposed only light restrictions (no stay-at-home orders, school or business closures or mask mandates at any point). Similarly, few restrictions were imposed in India in 2021, and there is also doubt about how far Indian citizens have followed any restrictions that were brought in; in any case, high population antibody rates were subsequently reported. Are India and Sweden benefitting from a more robust immunity owing to greater exposure prior to this autumn? What happens this winter will help to clarify this question.

The U.K. meanwhile is experiencing a strangely drawn-out Delta epidemic. Beginning in June, it has now been simmering away at around about the same level for five months, neither exploding as the models predicted, nor dropping off again back to low levels, as earlier waves have done.

Decline in Flu Immunity Due to Clampdown on Socialising Has Led to ‘Worst Colds Ever’

Some Brits say they are suffering from their “worst cold ever” as scientists warn that the decline in flu immunity during continued lockdowns could lead to a difficult winter. The Independent has the story.

For Rebecca London, 24, from Bournemouth, a usual cold would mean “a runny nose, sneezing, a bit of a sore throat and feeling a bit rundown”.

“Nothing like this,” she told the BBC, saying she could barely sleep during her illness, which numerous lateral flow tests confirmed was not Covid.

Others have spoken of being “floored” by their colds, some of which lasted for more than a month.

Dr. Philippa Kaye, a GP in London, told the broadcaster: “We’ve actually been seeing a rise in the number of coughs and colds and viral infections.

“We are mixing in a way that we haven’t been mixing over the past 18 months.

“During those first lockdowns, we saw numbers of other [non-Covid] infections fall. We think that that was primarily due to the restrictions on meeting up.”

In more positive news, the World Health Organisation’s latest influenza update suggested that global cases were “at lower levels” than predicted for this time of year, despite fears of mass outbreaks.

However, with winter approaching, the situation could get worse, as Professor Anthony Harnden, the Deputy Chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, has warned. He said that low flu immunity “could be potentially a bigger problem this winter than Covid”.

Worth reading in full.

We Should Have Trusted Our Immune Systems

There follows a guest post by retired dentist and Daily Sceptic contributor Dr. Mark Shaw, who says that just as dentists are taught to intervene as little as possible and trust the human body, public health experts should heed the same lesson.

As well as dentistry, sport has played a big, happy part of my life. Athletics, cross country and squash mainly but also many other competitive sports. So I was relieved to find that, following a long spell on the NHS waiting list, I wouldn’t need a hip replacement after all. I’d used the waiting time to do as much research on hip physio as possible and found that my mobility was improving steadily and significantly. My experience and knowledge of sports injuries through intense training and competing for my country had definitely helped.

When I sat down with the consultant for the assessment of my hip I described the progress made and how keen I was to avoid, or at least put off, an operation. The consultant orthopaedic surgeon seemed happy with my attitude and said that nothing would improve on my original hip and that, no matter how bad the hip looked on the X-ray, as long as I could function and manage the pain, I should avoid surgical treatment and continue with my physio and general health measures. Happy days!

This experience reminded me of my own profession (including its history) and the training involved and how medical science has responded to Covid.

In the early years of training we were taught about the ‘old’ treatments and how advances in technology had changed the way we removed decay and designed restorative work (fillings, crowns and bridges etc.). After qualifying and through the years this theme continued. Restorative work involves working out how little, if any, healthy tooth tissue you can get away with removing. All our technology and materials still can’t beat the real thing.

Prevention of the causes of gum disease and tooth decay through education is therefore the most important aspect of dentistry in my opinion. Appropriately frequent monitoring (check-ups) – and treatment as a last resort.

New Zealand Hospitals Flooded with Children Due to Immune Systems Weakened by Lockdown, Doctors Say

New Zealand and Australia are currently seeing a large number of children in hospital with respiratory illness, which doctors are blaming on the lockdowns for keeping them away from bugs. The Guardian has the story.

Wellington has 46 children currently hospitalised for respiratory illnesses including respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. A number are infants, and many are on oxygen. Other hospitals are also experiencing a rise in cases that are straining their resources – with some delaying surgeries or converting playrooms into clinical space.

RSV is a common respiratory illness. In adults, it generally only produces very mild symptoms – but it can make young children extremely ill, or even be fatal. The size and seriousness of New Zealand’s outbreak is likely being fed by what some paediatric doctors have called an “immunity debt” – where people don’t develop immunity to other viruses suppressed by Covid lockdowns, causing cases to explode down the line. …

The “immunity debt” phenomenon occurs because measures like lockdowns, hand-washing, social distancing and masks are not only effective at controlling COVID-19. They also suppress the spread of other illnesses that transmit in a similar way, including the flu, common cold, and lesser-known respiratory illnesses like RSA. In New Zealand, lockdowns last winter led to a 99.9% reduction in flu cases and a 98% reduction in RSV  and near-eliminated the spike of excess deaths New Zealand usually experiences during winter.

Keeping children away from bugs means they don’t develop immunity and results in an “immunity debt” that must be paid sooner or later, a group of doctors explains.

Covid Vaccination Open to All over-18s in England

All English adults are now able to book a Covid vaccination as the number of over-18s who have been vaccinated nears 45 million (over 80%) – yet still we wait. Reuters has the story.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday pushed back the full re-opening of England from lockdown until July 19th because of a rise in cases, but also accelerated his vaccination plans, pledging to give every adult a first dose by the same date. 

“Offering all adults a jab less than 200 days after the programme launched is one of our country’s greatest collective achievements, saving over 14,000 lives so far,” he said, referring to Public Health England estimates of the impact of the vaccine roll-out.

Britain has given a first dose of a Covid vaccine to more than 42 million people, almost 80% of adults, while well over a half have received both shots.

Health authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each run their own vaccination campaigns. Wales and Northern Ireland have already made vaccines available to any adult, while Scotland is offering them to anyone over 30.

In Monday’s briefing, the Prime Minister said that current vaccination levels were not enough to justify unlocking the country and that two-thirds of the adult population must be fully vaccinated (a milestone that is expected to be reached by July 19th) if there is to be an effective “wall of immunity”. Even then, he warned that “a proportion of the elderly and vulnerable may still succumb [to the virus] even if they have had two jabs”.

The Reuters report is worth reading in full.

Vaccination Doesn’t Add Any Protection to that Gained from Previous Infection – Study

A new study (not yet peer-reviewed) of over 50,000 employees of the healthcare system in Cleveland, Ohio, has found that previous infection provides very robust protection against re-infection and, importantly, that there is no gain to being vaccinated as well.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul tweeted the study’s conclusion: that it means vaccines should be prioritised for the not-previously-infected at home and abroad, not wasted on the already immune.

The confirmation of the protection provided by natural infection is very welcome, as is the finding that vaccinating the previously infected is superfluous. Given the significantly higher risk of adverse events for those previously infected (up to three times higher according to the ZOE Lancet study) and the world shortage of vaccines, there would seem to be a moral imperative to cease vaccinating the previously infected.

The study’s finding is particularly robust because of the large sample size and because there were zero instances of re-infection among the previously infected (both vaccinated and unvaccinated). This was despite the study period beginning at the peak of Ohio’s winter wave, so the unvaccinated had plenty of exposure to the virus. Other studies have found the relative risk reduction offered by previous infection to be 80% against all re-infection and 90% against symptomatic re-infection, so the results in this study were even higher than usually observed.

However, the study’s findings for vaccine effectiveness in the not-previously-infected are much less reliable.

You Can Catch Covid Twice – But it’s Very Rare and Very Mild

Can you catch Covid twice? The challenge trials at Oxford University have now turned their attention to this question, deliberately exposing people who have had the disease before to the virus again to see how their immune systems respond.

Other studies have already looked into this question, though without the controversial deliberate exposure aspect. The most recent, published in the Lancet last week, tested around 3,000 U.S. Marine recruits aged 18-20 for Covid antibodies and then followed them over six weeks while they completed basic training together to see how many became infected. The living in close quarters would likely have ensured that all were exposed to the virus.

The study found that around 10% of seropositive (with-antibodies) participants (19 out of 189) tested PCR positive for the virus versus around 50% of seronegative participants (1,079 out of 2,247). This means that having antibodies from a previous infection gives about 80% protection from testing positive for the virus again. This finding closely matches that of a large Danish study published last month, that found those who had tested positive for the virus in the spring were about 80% less likely to test positive again in the autumn. And also a UK study of NHS workers from January that found being PCR positive for the virus at one point made workers around 80% less likely to test positive again at a later date.

The new study was being used last week to promote the idea of vaccinating young people who had previously been infected, on the grounds that protection via infection was not enough. Thus Sky News reported: “Young people who have already tested positive for coronavirus are not fully protected against reinfection.”

The study itself supported this use, stating its results suggest “COVID-19 vaccination might be necessary for control of the pandemic in previously infected young adults”. Professor Stuart Sealfon of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and senior author of the study, said:

As vaccine rollouts continue to gain momentum it is important to remember that, despite a prior COVID-19 infection, young people can catch the virus again and may still transmit it to others. Immunity is not guaranteed by past infection, and vaccinations that provide additional protection are still needed for those who have had COVID-19.

What such claims appear not to allow for is that questions are being asked about how the balance of risks stacks up for young people to be vaccinated even when they have not had Covid, let alone when they have and have 80% protection already. To this balance must be added that severe side-effects are considerably more common in those who have previously had Covid.

The 80% protection figure is also not the full story on immunity following infection. Noteworthy is that symptomatic infection was much less common among those who had antibodies. In fact, only three out of 19 (16%) seropositive PCR positives were symptomatic, versus 347 out of 1,079 (32%) seronegative PCR positives. The large proportion of PCR positive infections that are asymptomatic even among those without antibodies (68%) may be an indication of the high degree of pre-existing immunity among the young.

The infections among those with antibodies were also much less likely to be infectious, with average Ct of 27-28 versus around 24 for the seronegative infections (Ct or cycle threshold corresponds inversely to viral load, which corresponds to infectiousness). This translates to a viral load about ten times lower, which is considerably less infectious.