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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Pfizer Vaccine almost completely ineffective against the Omicron variant.

Data released today from South Africa shows that the Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine is only 30% effective at best in stopping infection by the Omicron COVID variant which is spreading twice as fast as the Delta variant which was already twice as infective as the earlier COVID strains.

The good news is that the Pfizer vaccine appears to be very effective in preventing serious disease even among the high risk groups.


The bad news is that in South Africa nearly all of the people developing COVID Omicron have had both the two shots of the vaccine but have also previously recovered from COVID in some earlier variant or the original strain.


That means that the 30% level of protection against catching the Omicron variant is the high mark because people in the study not only had been fully vaccinated but had also recovered from another form of COVID and therefore had antibodies from that infection. People who have not previously had COVID before getting the Pfizer vaccine may and almost certainly WILL have a lower than 30% level of protection.


The study doesn’t look at those who got a Pfizer booster shot because that is too recently been given in SA and says nothing about Moderna’s Vaccine because it was not given in any great number to people in SA being an American based company (Cambridge, MA) while Pfizer is more international.


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Omicron in U.S. first case in fully vaccinated man but only very mild

The first case in the U.S. of the Omicron COVID variant has been reported
in San Francisco - patient Zero just returned from South Africa. (Confirmed at UCSF lab.)

He had mild symptoms and has already fully recovered but is self-isolated.

He had two Moderna vaccine shots but no booster.

Reports from South African hospitals is that 90+% of those
in hospital for COVID were unvaccinated. Most cases are in
younger people and are relatively mild, although some are 
severe enough to require an ER visit. 

The World Health Organization has reported that the Thermo Fisher Scientific
RT-PCR COVID test kits can detect the Omicron variant.

Some unidentified kits used in India are also reported to be effective.

Both of Abbott Labs' tests, the rapid (antigen) and more accurate PCR lab test, are effective because they do not rely on testing for the spike portion of the virus which is the segment that opens up cell walls and lets the virus into cells. The spike structure is the area most often involved in changes for the various variants.
 
So far all we know for certain about the Omicron variant of COVID is that mask-wearing and staying out of crowds is nearly perfect protection for this as well as every other airborne vaccine.

Getting vaccinated will almost certainly provide some protection against any COVID variant.
 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

COVID Omicron - copy of my medical alert newsletter

This is a copy of the medical newsletter I send to about thirty people and companies. Let me know if you want included in the regular mailing list. I only send these rarely, not as many as one each month.

Noon 11/27 update Please note my blog and newsletter posts were BEFORE the UK PM announced that Omicron can be passed between fully vaccinated people. That may or may not be important - no data on whether they actually get sick or are just carriers - it is normal for vaccinated people to test positive for COVID and they MIGHT be able to pass it along to others (hence the idea of everyone wearing masks) but they have no symptoms. Mask wearing not chin diapers or a layer of cloth, real N-95 masks, protects against ANY variant.

Friends, 

My little newsletter only goes out when I am aware of something not generally publicized yet.


The new variant - based on the absolute panic in various governments, WHO, and CDC, including ban on flights from South Africa and Southern Africa, there is something scientists suspect about the new Omicron variant which is not yet being disclosed in public.


It is possible there is no risk but the signs are very bad, including the fact that my contacts are not responding, saying they are busy.


Locally the hospitals are filling up for the first time in this pandemic.


Punxsutawney Hospital at least, has no vaccine mandate for critical workers - I know this because the person drawing my blood for the lab told me she hadn’t found time to get vaccinated for COVID despite working one floor above a vaccine clinic and despite having gotten the flu vaccine this year. The hospital refused to comment.


So I am cautioning everyone to consider wearing an N95 mask any time outside the house. 

Locally very few people are wearing masks.


We are always stocked up in the winter because we avoid the flu. But we will be getting perishables at Walmart before seven a.m. and Aldi during the early days for the vulnerable.



Note on flight bans - silly. There is already a requirement that any foreigner must be fully vaccinated or recently tested to enter the U.S. anyway. Unfortunately it isn't applied to U.S. citizens (as if they aren't infected??).

Flight bans are counterproductive because of that and because they discourage governments from reporting new variants they discover.


Failure to vaccinate people in other countries such as third world countries means a large pool of people passing COVID around and therefore producing new variants such as Omicron. The only good news about that is since they are unvaccinated the new variants are not developed trying to avoid the vaccines which is why many are not getting any notice. Note that Omicron is the 15th character in the Greek alphabet so there have been a lot of variants of concern, the only ones which get named. The CDC skipped Nu and Xi, Nu because it would be confused with NEW, and Xi to avoid any Chinese connection (Premier for life is Xi Jinping.)


I am reading and getting bulletins from the WHO, Nature (the world's top science journal), The Lancet, and the NEJM. I will send another newsletter only if there is a major development.



Best to all of you,

John


If you appreciate these notes you can show your support by posting reviews for my Amazon books. I can share most of them for free if you don't have Amazon Prime which makes them free anyway.

--
John McCormick

Children's book
"Life After a Pandemic" 

Google Scholar citations

Member, Union of Concerned Scientists
No LONGER Member, AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) I dropped membership when extreme censorship was imposed on all discussions.
A 39-year member, National Press Club (Washington)


Visitor's guide to Groundhog Day (best as an ebook)

"Preparing for Climate Change: Coastal flooding will cost the U.S. billions of dollars within two decades."

paperback second edition

eBOOK "Blockchain Made Simple" Blockchain is poised to revolutionize business and government data management. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HCY7QPZ

Everywhere I Turn There's A Wet Nose
  the love for and science of dogs.

Emergency management preparedness
Senior contributor, Newsblaze.com
http://puppybyday.blogspot.com/
"Sheep in the Rafters book.http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SLMJHUI
"Sheep in the Rafters 2nd. ed. paperback https://www.amazon.com/dp/1521253676

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Moderna vaccine much more effective than the other two used in the US

Numbers below show effectiveness against hospitalization.

If this blog is useful please leave a message and 
tell others about this.

Moderna 93% initially and still  92% after 120 days 
from second vaccination. 
Pfizer only 91% at first dropping to 77% after 120 days
J&J single shot VE is 71% at first and drops to 68% at 120 days

VE = vaccine effectiveness



VE for the Moderna vaccine was 93% at 14–120 days (median = 66 days) after receipt of the second vaccine dose and 92% at >120 days (median = 141 days) (p = 1.000). VE for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 91% at 14–120 days (median = 69 days) after receipt of the second vaccine dose but declined significantly to 77% at >120 days (median = 143 days) (p<0.001).

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7038e1.htm


Monday, September 13, 2021

Have COVID? Be dog's best friend by avoiding close contact - dogs can catch COVID from their people and vice versa.

Pet owning people with COVID who are at home would probably wish to have the comfort of patting and even hugging man's best friend, but this is a bad idea for several reasons.

First you can easily infect a pet dog leading to symptoms which will not only concern a responsible pet owner but will also cause extra work in caring for the sick animal.

Second, a zoonotic disease (one which can pass between humans and various animals) is extremely dangerous because it provides yet another and especially novel environment which can easily help develop a more dangerous mutation or, to use the recently popular term "variant."

But COVID has been a major boost for shelter adoptions as people who were in lockdown reached out for comfort and companionship to pets. In fact (see link below) some shelters were actually emptied of adoptive dogs which is wonderful if the people don't just dump their new pets back in shelters when the pandemic ends and they are not forced to stay home.

Some, perhaps many will continue to stay home and even work from home as they have experienced the wonderful freedom from dress codes (most punishing for women) and especially from that dreaded daily commute. I know of no one who ever looked forward to spending hours each week sitting in traffic jams.

A pre-print paper cites case studies of pets which developed respiratory symptoms after being in close contact with COVID patients.

In dogs the symptoms of infection include "sneezing, cough, hyaline rhinorrhea (Spanish term which could be translated as watery, perhaps profuse nasal discharge, diarrhea, vomiting, adynamia (weakness), and lack of appetite."

In the study 290 domestic animals were tested, 87.6% cats and 12.4% were dogs. Lab results showed a low but definite infection rate in both dogs and cats.

The report includes a list of the variations found in dogs and humans involved in the study which was conducted in northwestern Columbia.

Back in 2020 the journal Nature reported that dogs can be trained to smell out (so to speak) COVID infected people. 

https://www.icpcovid.com/sites/default/files/2021-03/Ep%20117-11%20Can%20dogs%20smell%20COVID_%20Here%E2%80%99s%20what%20the%20science%20says.pdf

Ellis EG. Thanks to sheltering in place, animal shelters are empty. [Accessed June 21, 2020]. https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-pet-adoption-boom. Published April 10, 2020.

The mental health of people forced to stay at home and actively avoid contact with other people will be a major problem that psychologists are already trying to deal with.

Perhaps the freelance writer (such as me) have a big advantage because writers are generally people who isolate themselves to have time and psychological energy to spend 8-10 hours a day writing, a notoriously solitary profession.


The CDC says little about pets other than that COVID can be transmitted both ways between pet and the pet's human.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/covid-19/pets.html

They de-emphasize the risk but it is important to realize that new variants could be much more easily transmissible not just between humans but between humans and animals.

They do recommend isolating people with COVID both from other people in the household but also from any pets.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Worrying new MU µ COVID variant found in 48 states but mostly FL is being carefully watched.

A scary new COVID variant known as the Mu (Greek letter µ) has emerged from Columbia and has been found in nearly 50 people resident in the UK. The official designation by the WHO, which designated it a “variant of interest” August 30, is B.1.621

Not much is known yet, including whether it spreads easily, or even if the current vaccines are effective against it.

Although there are only about 900 cases reported, it is found in 40 countries and virtually every U.S. state according to the GISAID tracking information.

https://www.gisaid.org/hcov19-variants/ (be patient, slow loading)

Mainly in France, Spain, and, of course, Florida.

An early test in Italy found that the Pfizer vaccine antibodies ARE effective against µ.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.27247

HOWEVER, a study published in The Lancet shows otherwise because the spikes are different enough to evade current vaccines.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(21)00482-5/fulltext

µ causes high fevers and continuous coughs.








UK total distribution

Variant*Other names by which this variant may be known**LineageTotal confirmed (sequencing) and probable (genotyping) cases^New cases since last update (data up to 18 August)
AlphaVOC-20DEC-01B.1.1.7277,588-322
BetaVOC-20DEC-02B.1.3511,093+1
Delta†VOC-21APR-02B.1.617.2 AY.1 AY. 2535,387†+49,960
VOC-21FEB-02VOC-21FEB-02B.1.1.7 with E484K460
GammaVOC-21JAN-02P.1272+7
KappaVUI-21APR-01B.1.617.1494-1
VUI-21APR-03N/AB.1.617.3160
VUI-21FEB-01VUI-21FEB-01A.23.1 with E484K790
EtaVUI-21FEB-03B.1.525 (previously designated UK1188)497+2
VUI-21FEB-04VUI-21FEB-04B.1.1.318358+1
ZetaVUI-21JAN-01P.2600
ThetaVUI-21MAR-02P.3100
VUI-21MAY-01N/AAV.11850
VUI-21MAY-02N/AC.36.31530
LambdaVUI-21JUN-01C.3780
VUI-21JUL-01N/AB.1.62148+2

*Information pertaining to VUI-21MAR-01, B1.324.1 with E484K 

has been removed as this variant has been reclassified as provisionally extinct.

 

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The Lancet reports true breakthrough infection rates - CDC has no good data.

British studies show breakthrough infection rates are extremely low, details follow:

The CDC doesn’t record the number of breakthrough infections, ONLY the ones which require hospitalizations, therefore the British study is definitive.

More than one million people who had one or two vaccination shots 


The mortality rate reported in the UK for those who are hospitalized with COVID-19 (any strain but mostly Delta in the UK) is nearly one-third.


Breakthrough infections are those which occur in people who have had at least one vaccination shot.


The UK measured the infections by self-reporting and testing so they include ALL people who catch COVID-19 EVEN IF THEY HAVE NO SYMPTOMS.


The results are great news because only 0.5% of those who had one of the two shots in the multi-shot vaccines developed COVID.


For those who were fully vaccinated the numbers were half as many, only 0.2%.


The following is a link to the original Lanced paper, it is extremely detailed and even more difficult to understand.


Risk factors and disease profile of post-vaccination SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK users of the COVID Symptom Study app: a prospective, community-based, nested, case-control study - The Lancet Infectious Diseases