Path Out of Covid Nightmare

WSJ posted an interview with Dr. Makary at a post The Perpetual Covid Crisis.  Some comments in italics wtih my bolds.

The lockdown lobby persists despite the vaccine rollout.

https://au.tv.yahoo.com/embed/wall-street-journal/wsj-opinion-path-covid-nightmare-204330227.html

Link goes to video of interview.  Closed Captions provide text.

Vaccination rates in Texas and other states have been increasing while hospitalizations are plunging. About one in five adults in Texas has received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Most are seniors and people with health conditions who are at highest risk of severe illness. Hospitalizations in Texas have fallen more than 60% since a mid-January peak.

Politicians created a box canyon with lockdowns last spring that were originally intended to “flatten the curve.” But then every time governors loosened restrictions and cases ticked up, Democrats would demand lockdowns. Not that lockdowns (or mask mandates) much helped California or New York, which experienced bigger surges this winter than Florida did with neither.

Background from Previous Post  Immunity by Easter?

Could it be that doors and societies will open and life be reborn as early as Easter 2021?  That depends upon lockdown politicians and scientists who advise them.  One such is Dr. Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, chief medical adviser to Sesame Care, and author of “The Price We Pay.”.  His article at Wall Street Journal is We’ll Have Herd Immunity by April.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Covid cases have dropped 77% in six weeks. Experts should level with the public about the good news.

Amid the dire Covid warnings, one crucial fact has been largely ignored: Cases are down 77% over the past six weeks. If a medication slashed cases by 77%, we’d call it a miracle pill. Why is the number of cases plummeting much faster than experts predicted?

In large part because natural immunity from prior infection is far more common than can be measured by testing.

Testing has been capturing only from 10% to 25% of infections, depending on when during the pandemic someone got the virus. Applying a time-weighted case capture average of 1 in 6.5 to the cumulative 28 million confirmed cases would mean about 55% of Americans have natural immunity.

Now add people getting vaccinated. As of this week, 15% of Americans have received the vaccine, and the figure is rising fast. Former Food and Drug Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates 250 million doses will have been delivered to some 150 million people by the end of March.

There is reason to think the country is racing toward an extremely low level of infection. As more people have been infected, most of whom have mild or no symptoms, there are fewer Americans left to be infected. At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life.

Antibody studies almost certainly underestimate natural immunity. Antibody testing doesn’t capture antigen-specific T-cells, which develop “memory” once they are activated by the virus. Survivors of the 1918 Spanish flu were found in 2008—90 years later—to have memory cells still able to produce neutralizing antibodies.

Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute found that the percentage of people mounting a T-cell response after mild or asymptomatic Covid-19 infection consistently exceeded the percentage with detectable antibodies. T-cell immunity was even present in people who were exposed to infected family members but never developed symptoms. A group of U.K. scientists in September pointed out that the medical community may be under-appreciating the prevalence of immunity from activated T-cells.

Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. would also suggest much broader immunity than recognized. About 1 in 600 Americans has died of Covid-19, which translates to a population fatality rate of about 0.15%. The Covid-19 infection fatality rate is about 0.23%. These numbers indicate that roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population has had the infection.

In my own conversations with medical experts, I have noticed that they too often dismiss natural immunity, arguing that we don’t have data. The data certainly doesn’t fit the classic randomized-controlled-trial model of the old-guard medical establishment. There’s no control group. But the observational data is compelling.

I have argued for months that we could save more American lives if those with prior Covid-19 infection forgo vaccines until all vulnerable seniors get their first dose. Several studies demonstrate that natural immunity should protect those who had Covid-19 until more vaccines are available. Half my friends in the medical community told me: Good idea. The other half said there isn’t enough data on natural immunity, despite the fact that reinfections have occurred in less than 1% of people—and when they do occur, the cases are mild.

But the consistent and rapid decline in daily cases since Jan. 8 can be explained only by natural immunity. Behavior didn’t suddenly improve over the holidays; Americans traveled more over Christmas than they had since March. Vaccines also don’t explain the steep decline in January. Vaccination rates were low and they take weeks to kick in.

My prediction that Covid-19 will be mostly gone by April is based on laboratory data, mathematical data, published literature and conversations with experts. But it’s also based on direct observation of how hard testing has been to get, especially for the poor. If you live in a wealthy community where worried people are vigilant about getting tested, you might think that most infections are captured by testing. But if you have seen the many barriers to testing for low-income Americans, you might think that very few infections have been captured at testing centers. Keep in mind that most infections are asymptomatic, which still triggers natural immunity.

Many experts, along with politicians and journalists, are afraid to talk about herd immunity. The term has political overtones because some suggested the U.S. simply let Covid rip to achieve herd immunity. That was a reckless idea. But herd immunity is the inevitable result of viral spread and vaccination. When the chain of virus transmission has been broken in multiple places, it’s harder for it to spread—and that includes the new strains.

Herd immunity has been well-documented in the Brazilian city of Manaus, where researchers in the Lancet reported the prevalence of prior Covid-19 infection to be 76%, resulting in a significant slowing of the infection. Doctors are watching a new strain that threatens to evade prior immunity. But countries where new variants have emerged, such as the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, are also seeing significant declines in daily new cases. The risk of new variants mutating around the prior vaccinated or natural immunity should be a reminder that Covid-19 will persist for decades after the pandemic is over. It should also instill a sense of urgency to develop, authorize and administer a vaccine targeted to new variants.

Some medical experts privately agreed with my prediction that there may be very little Covid-19 by April but suggested that I not to talk publicly about herd immunity because people might become complacent and fail to take precautions or might decline the vaccine. But scientists shouldn’t try to manipulate the public by hiding the truth. As we encourage everyone to get a vaccine, we also need to reopen schools and society to limit the damage of closures and prolonged isolation. Contingency planning for an open economy by April can deliver hope to those in despair and to those who have made large personal sacrifices.

Don’t Fence Me In!

 

 

5 comments

  1. Hifast · March 7

    Reblogged this on HiFast News Feed.

    Like

  2. tom0mason · March 8

    “Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our lifetime.”
    ― Dr. Jacob Bronowski, Science & Human Values

    Like

    • Ron Clutz · March 8

      Indeed tomO. Jordan Peterson discussed the deadening effect of social conformity in his book Maps of Meaning, e.g.

      “It is reason’s belief in its own omniscience—manifest in procedure and image, if not in word—that “unconsciously” underlies totalitarianism in its many destructive guises. . . It is not that easy to understand why the act of presuming omniscience is reasonably construed as precisely opposite to the act of creative exploration (as the adversary is opposite to the hero). What “knowing everything” means, however—at least in practice—is that the unknown no longer exists, and that further exploration has therefore been rendered superfluous (even treacherous).”

      “Group membership, social being, represents a necessary advance over childish dependence, but the spirit of the group requires its pound of flesh. Absolute identification with the group means rejection of individual difference: means rejection of “deviation,” even “weakness,” from the group viewpoint; means repression of individuality, sacrifice of the mythic fool; means abandonment of the simple and insufficient “younger brother.” The group, of course, merely feels that it is doing its duty by insisting upon such sacrifice; it believes, with sufficient justification, that it is merely protecting its structure.”

      “Denial of unique individuality turns the wise traditions of the past into the blind ruts of the present. Application of the letter of the law when the spirit of the law is necessary makes a mockery of culture. Following in the footsteps of others seems safe, and requires no thought—but it is useless to follow a well-trodden trail when the terrain itself has changed. The individual who fails to modify his habits and presumptions as a consequence of change is deluding himself—is denying the world—is trying to replace reality itself with his own feeble wish. By pretending things are other than they are, he undermines his own stability, destabilizes his future, and transforms the past from shelter to prison.”

      https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2019/02/24/cosmic-evil-petersons-pearls-4/

      Like

      • tom0mason · March 9

        Yes indeed Ron,
        Peterson is very good, it’s just that I have been rereading the book and looking at the 1974 video ‘The Ascent of Man’ by Dr. Jacob Bronowski. I truly believe all academics should view and read this great man’s works. Scientist, philospher, and all round genius of a man, who understood so much about the human condition.
        One of his most powerful quotes he says while he stands in the pond at Auschwitz –

        “It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

        Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known; we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end, the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: “I beseech you in the bowels of Christ: Think it possible you may be mistaken.”

        I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died here [at Auschwitz], to stand here as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.”

        ― Jacob Bronowski (The Ascent Of Man 1974 video)

        Like

      • Ron Clutz · March 9

        Thanks for that. Powerful.

        Liked by 1 person

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