Immunologist: ‘Sydney’s sleep walking into a catastrophic disaster in January’

And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong,
(War is over if you want it)
For the rich and the poor ones,
The road is so long.

– John Lennon

“The problem on Christmas Day is you walk in to your family’s household, and grandma and grandpa are there, your parents are there, your aunt who has cancer is there, the kids are there… virtually everybody can catch Omicron, we risk turning Christmas day into a simultaneous super spreader event all across Sydney in thousands of households. That’s the problem.” – Dr Dan Suan on YouTube on 20 Dec 2021.

We post this warning from a doctor who works with Covid patients in Sydney about a possible super spreader event when people gather together at Xmas and end of year events in 2021. Dr Suan highlights Sydney but his warning could apply anywhere in Australia. We caution that there are some assumptions made in the video about Omicron where sufficient information is not yet available to test the doctor’s prognosis thoroughly.

Personally I am happy to forgo Christmas … at the very least I think it should be an outdoor event where possible. On Saturday 18 Dec 2021 I tried to get a booster from my local medical centre but they were understaffed and put me off till 12 January 2022 (and perhaps even are running short of vaccine?). There are many questions unanswered. How much are local medical centres being paid to administer the vaccines? What is the data that Health Ministers rely upon when they predict future cases? Why do we have individual doctors coming out, but the profession remains quiet? – Ian Curr, 20 Dec 2021.

Sydney’s sleepwalking into a catastrophic disaster in January, if we don’t do something about it right now. I’m a clinical immunologist. That’s what I do. I’m also an immuno-pathologist. And I work at one of Sydney’s biggest hospitals, and I did a PhD in the immune system response to vaccination. We’ve all had a difficult pandemic. From my chair, I’ve been involved in public health, I’ve looked after COVID patients and run a COVID board, I’ve helped to try and study why some people get severe COVID. And, of course, as an immunologist, we’ve been involved in the vaccine rollout, and dealing with side effects and problems with the vaccine.

My point is that I have a very interesting perspective, I can see the pandemic, from the public health population level, all the way down to the molecular level. And it’s very important.

I’m going to tell you three things about Omicron, then I’m going to tell you a story about Christmas. And then we’re going to decide together, what we want to be ending that story to look back. Our first problem with Omicron is that it is much more contagious than delta, or anything else we’ve seen before the mutation in the virus means that it is able to stay in the air much longer. And the consequence of that is that one person can infect many more people.

 If you’re in a room with another person, and they have Omicron … They’re breathing talking, there is Omicron in the air. That’s the take home message.

The second problem with Omicron is that it can infect virtually everyone. So when we’re thinking about the problem, the question from a population perspective is who’s at risk of catching Omicron? The answer to their question to me is almost everybody in here. The only people that are really, really protected from Omicron infection are people who have a normal immune system and have been tripled vaccinated. That group of people are quite protected from infection from Omicron. Everybody else does not. So if you’re immuno-compromised and you’ve got three doses I don’t think you fall into a well-protected category.

If you’ve only had two doses, I don’t think you fall into a well-protected category. We’ve seen a omicron breakthrough. There’s infection in vaccinated patients we have seen. And, of course, the kids under 12 are completely unvaccinated.

So my point here is that even though we’ve hit 95%, double-vax, right, which protects us against Delta, virtually the entire Sydney population is at risk of catching Omicron. That’s a problem.

The third problem is the one we’ve been debating for days, which is severity. It’s very important in science, to be honest, when we don’t know. The Omicron outbreak is so early, we’re not 100% certain what the impact of Omicron is on disease severity.

Our best estimate at the moment is that the vaccines drops from giving you about 90% protection from severely severe disease, hospitalization and death, down to about 70%. Now, that seemed like a lot, until you run the numbers.

So I’ll just give you a hypothetical there were 2,400 cases of COVID today.

Let’s just round that to 2000. Now, if nobody was vaccinated, 2000 people infected, we would expect 10% or 200 people to come down with Omicron. Okay. If you’re fully vaccinated, if the entire population has the vaccine, that number comes down from 200 to 20. Because you could have a 90% reduction in severe disease and that’s one section. If the vaccines lose efficacy, they dropped from 90 to 70%. Then that number goes up to 60, from 20 to 60 people. So out of 2000 people, we now have an estimate of say 60 people needing to come to home. Now that does not sound like a lot. But Minister Hazzard this week told us that Omicron is pretty so quickly. Right? And so many people are at risk of catching that we may end up with 25,000 cases a day by January, by mid January. (What data does the Minister base that on?)

So if 2,000 people give you 60 admissions; 25,000 people will give you 750 admissions. Go back to Delta. When we had the Delta wave the the peak hospital admission in that outbreak was 1200 people in NSW and now I’m talking about 750 people a day, in two days, that’s 1500, and so forth and so forth, you can start to see the problem, even if Omicron is slightly less severe, right, which there’s no good evidence for. And even if vaccination does what we needed to do, which is to reduce the severity, the loss of that efficacy caused by the variant is still going to cause a massive problem.

Omicron may be slightly less severe. But if the outbreak is huge, and you put those two things together, the big problem wins, we will still have a huge number of people needing to be hospitalized, and it will overwhelm the hospital system. This time, it won’t just be Westmead and Liverpool (hospitals), it will be all hospitals across Sydney.

So that’s the problem. It’s a problem of pure math. Those three facts have a vast impact on the story I’m about to tell you, we have six days until Christmas morning. If we continue to behave like we have been in the last two weeks, you can see how steep the Omicron case curve. So you can expect if we keep our behavior the same, that curve to continue to climb. 2,400 cases today really means that there are several 1000 more people already infected, they just haven’t tested positive.

So if we don’t change our behavior, we could get to Christmas morning with 8,000 or 10,000 or more Omicron positive people in the community, if possible. On Christmas day most of us plan to get together with family and friends. The people who are passing Omicron to each other at the moment, are probably younger, healthier people … but being more social. And they’re probably not symptomatic. A lot of them will be asymptomatic.

The problem on Christmas Day is you walk in to your family’s household, and grandma and grandpa, there are your parents, your aunt who has cancer, there are the kids that … virtually everybody can catch Omicron, we risk turning Christmas day into a simultaneous super spreader event all across Sydney in thousands of households. That’s the problem. That’s the problem.

If everybody catches overcrowding on Christmas Day, then there will be a hospital-based disaster by early January, because all the infections happen at the same time. And we know what happens when a huge number of people attempt to try to get a hospital but at the same time, they can’t get the care that they need. And the death toll starts to climb far higher than it should be. If there’s a big Omicron outbreak, your health care workers will also be infected.

In the UK 10% of hospital staff are down. Right. And so we were attempting to deal with this potential ouotbreak in January it will most likely be with the context that a lot of staff are at home isolated because of other problems. Kids appear to be more affected by Omicron in the original description in South Africa 10% of the children 10% of the admissions to hospital for children, including kids under five.

Now, the honest truth is that it’s too early for us to know what proportion or what number of kids we might expect how many who have Omicron to come to hospital. But we know it’s going to be higher than the other areas. And we know that all the kids in the 12 island we’re going to have a huge outbreak. But you make a decision not to do anything. In that scenario, we can expect a huge outbreak, hospital based disaster in January. And the most likely outcome is the government will be forced to go back to lockdown. The UK is already struggling.

The hospitals are full … 10% of the staff are down … they’e running out of ambulances. Denmark has a problem. It’s starting to see European countries increase restrictions. America with its very low vaccination rate is about to have an Omicron catastrophe. I’ll tell you the same thing I told you in March 2020, there is no crystal ball. There’s only a direct relationship between our actions of the community and the outcome of Sydney in NSW

Recommendations:

  1. Anytime you’re indoor, you should be wearing a mask. This is an extremely contagious able very to reconsider your events for the upcoming week.
  2. The first thing you have any symptoms you must get tested. You must get tested and isolate.
  3. If you test positive, unfortunately the government has removed contact tracing. So you now have to do your own contact tracing, you are New South Wales Health contact tracing. You’ve got a ring everybody that you were in contact with, and tell them to go and get tested.
  4. If you do your booster, for goodness sake, go and get it done right now.
  5. You need to talk to your family about Christmas. You need to think about who’s coming, are there elderly people coming, or their vulnerable people coming. You need to talk about how to make your Christmas COVID safe. Can you move it outdoor? That’s much safer? Can you find a way for all of you to be tested before you meet? Either via PCR test, or a rapid antigen test? Or both? If you’re high risk.

You need to really think through how to use technology and how to use the things that we know work. Right. Masking, distancing, to protect your family at Christmas.

And final point, I asked myself how we could possibly do any more. We’ve been through so much. Everyone has sacrificed so much. We’ve worked so hard. And what I’m telling you is that we’re at risk of throwing it all away now. Because the Omicron is so contagious, and can escape attacks.

Dr Dan Suan
MBBS FRACP FRCPA PhD Clinical Immunologist

Notes of YouTube by Ian Curr. Please address any errors or important omissions in the comments down below.

Reference

13 thoughts on “Immunologist: ‘Sydney’s sleep walking into a catastrophic disaster in January’

  1. Thanks Ray for the information about how Japan is dealing with the pandemic. Japan has been able to roll out about 200 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine across the country.

    That, social distancing and mask wearing has no doubt assisted the Japanese people in fighting the disease. However Japan is a very different society to Australia with more social controls over behaviour and greater experience of different corona virus infections (eg so called Asian Flu). Also Japan has the highest proportion of elderly citizens of any country in the world. The people can probably still remember the 1957 flu epidemic. The main causes of death were acute pneumonia and cardiac insufficiency. Vaccination of the general population was not carried out on a wide scale. So, despite the severity of the illness being not very great in the population as a whole, the death-rates among infants and the aged were very high.

    As you know various Australian governments and private enterprise companies have been remiss in dealing with the effects of Covid-19 on the elderly and the people that care for them. Shame on them.

    However the Japanese government has at least one similarity with various Australian governments, they give priority to the ‘economy’ over public health, hence the let-it-rip strategy over Christmas in Australia. Consumerism is seen as the saviour, not Christ who is a front for making money; at least it is in the capitalists eyes.

    Australia failed from the outset by not building proper quarantine facilities. They could have done so in areas where people could walk outside and participate in activities instead of being holed up on the 40th floor of a hotel watching TV all day. These quarantine facilities could be used later for student accomodation or for workers who can’t obtain affordable housing. But no, the government wanted to serve the hotel chains paying them or forcing the people of suspected of having the virus to pay. What a hopeless bunch we have in Canberra.

    Please don’t reference Jimmy Dore (you provide a YouTube link to one of his shows) as an authority on Covid 19 or any health matters. Jimmy Dore is a stand up comedian, not an expert on health. His claims about Ivermectin as a cure for Covid-19 can be placed in the Trump-far-right nonsense category. Please save us from the far right nonsense.

    in solidarity,
    Ian

    1. Ray Bergmann says:

      I agree that Australia failed from the outset by not building proper quarantine facilities – or hospitals for that matter with adequate air-cycling – where people could walk outside and participate in activities instead of being holed up on the 40th floor of a hotel watching TV all day. Howard Springs is better for air circulation, but no improvement on the freedom to walk around and participate in activities.

      For countries where Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine are unavailable or grossly maligned due to their competion with more expensive pharmaceutical products, the I-MASK+ Prevention & Early Outpatient Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 recommends taking BLACK CUMMIN SEED (Nigella Sativa) as a natural Ivermectin / Hydroxychloroquine alternative. It’s easily available at Indian / Pakistani / Afghani Convenience stores. Take ½ teaspoon of Black Cummin Seed in honey twice a day (grinding the seeds with the teeth), or take 1 capsule daily of Black Cummin Seed oil from the healthshop or go online to get Blackseed, zinc and vitamin C with Manuka honey together in a capsule. The active ingredient of Blackseed oil is TQ, The most anti-inflammatory honey is Yemeni Sidr Honey and after that N.Z. Manuka Honey. Unfortunately the tablets don’t include Quercetin which is essential to take with the zinc. Healthshops presently have quercetin powder which you take half-teaspoon of quercetin powder twice a day together with a zinc capsule or tablet, Or you can use unsweetened pineapple juice instead of the Quercetin – it’s the bromelain in pineapple juice that acts the same as Quercetin to chelate zinc ions and act as zinc ionophore. That’s why quercetin and pineapple juice effect antiviral activity against many RNA viruses . Quercetin is a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, which has unique biological properties that has been shown to increase mental/physical performance and reduce infection risk. Increasing the intracellular Zn(2+) concentration with zinc-ionophores like pyrithione (PT) can efficiently impair the replication of a variety of RNA viruses, including poliovirus and influenza virus. For some viruses this effect has been attributed to interference with viral polyprotein processing. The B cell compartment also strongly benefits from a balanced zinc ionophore homeostasis, as zinc is required for B cell maturation and function and there is evidence that SARS-CoV2 can directly infect T cells as well as B cells and impair their cell specific function. Quercetin or bromelain enable the zinc to enter the body cells to keep viruses from entering them. Nature provides everything we need to cope with this mass-psychosis pandemic. These natural remedies are equally effective for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

      1. “People forget what human beings can do when we’re unencumbered by divisiveness and hate and we stand up to a moment in time” – the words of Brilliant about the mammoth global effort to end smallpox [SBS – Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer].

        Hello Ray,

        Problem is, we are not dealing with ‘Nature’ – Covid 19 virus is an infectious agent transmitted from persons to persons living in industrial society, far from the natural world. Humanity has not experienced this particular corona virus attack on our immune system, even though this one is the seventh coronavirus able to infect humans; so it is not a matter of boosting our immunity (whatever that means, how do you test what that is?); we need to warn our bodies by the use of vaccines and protect them using appropriate quarantine facilities and ventilation systems.

        In Australia, no one agency or institution can claim to have risen to meet that challenge.

        Mass-psychosis involves the spread of illness symptoms through a population where there is no infectious agent responsible for contagion.

        This definition could describe the pandemic were it not for:

        – a tiny organism called the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
        – the death toll from the virus in the U.S. is already greater than the 750,000 people who died in the mid-19th Century Civil War
        – The NY Times said on 6 Jan 2022 that “
        about one in four U.S. hospitals recently reported that their I.C.U. beds were nearly full.”
        – The clinical expression of the disease ranges from completely asymptomatic forms up to dramatic pictures such as the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) often associated with multi-organ failure.

        Those people are on ventilators because they can’t breathe, that does not fit the definition of Mass-psychosis or hysteria.

        Ian Curr
        7 Jan 2022

      2. Ray Bergmann says:

        Let’s take one day i.e. 1st May as an example when
        Covid-19 took lives of 6406 in the world
        and on the same day,
        26,283 people died of Cancer
        24,641 people died of Heart Disease
        4,300 people died of Diabetes
        Suicide took 28 times more lives than the virus did.
        Mosquitoes kill 2,740 people every day,
        Humans kill 1,300 fellow humans every day,
        Snakes kill 137 people every day and
        Sharks kill 2 people a year.
        *What you need to do?*
        Vit C, Vit D, Zinc and Quercetin ameliorate inflammatory and oxidative stress so as to support your immune system. Do not live in fear.

        1. Hello Ray,

          Thanks for the statistics comparing the number of deaths caused by various ailments including Covid-19. These stats have been floating around social media for some time. The general claim implied by your comment, that all the things listed kill more people per day than Covid-19 has so far appears to be correct.

          FACT CHECK
          The WHO estimates that up to 137,800 people die each year from snake bites, about 378 a day, or double the number given in your comment.
          I think your claim that ‘Humans kill 1,300 fellow humans every day‘ is probably an underestimate if you include deaths from the ‘war on terror’.
          No medical authority in the world prescribe Vit C, Vit D, Zinc and Quercetin as a solution to Covid-19.

          The problem with viral diseases like Covid is that they have the potentional to kill many more people, that is why so much medical research and attention has been devoted to the disease. The sharp rise in the number of cases and deaths as a result of the current outbreak across Australia is evidence of this.

          A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic

          See Charlie Chaplin in in the movie “Monsieur Verdoux”
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8NBHNG9Dsw

          Ian Curr
          11 Jan 2022

    2. Ray Bergmann says:

      I have a friend, who is a part-time lab researcher at Herston and at a couple of Brisbane university research labs, who sent me an interesting study by Rhia Kundu, et.al., published 10 January 2022 at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27674-x

      The researchers assessed a small cohort of 52 COVID-19 household contacts to capture immune responses at the earliest timepoints after SARS-CoV-2 exposure. Using a dual cytokine FLISpot assay on peripheral blood mononuclear cells, they enumerated the frequency of T cells specific for spike, nucleocapsid, membrane, envelope and ORF1 SARS-CoV-2 epitopes that cross-react with human endemic coronaviruses.

      Half of the household contacts in this cohort had T cell cross reactivity to Covid-19 without previous exposure – and more importantly they never tested positive. It’s a small study but it is interesting to how half of the cohort was exposed to Covid-19 but never tested positive. Secondly, that the specific immunity to spike alone did not determine whether they tested positive or negative to Covid.

      The emergence of novel variants with potential to escape naturally acquired or vaccine-induced humoral immunity, along with the recent elucidation of immune-mediated antigenic drift in huCoVs brings the long-term utility of spike-only based vaccines into question. They demonstrated the importance of non-spike targets, in particular ORF1 and nucleocapsid, for T cell-mediated protection in the absence of neutralising antibodies, consistent with the wide spectrum of antigen-specific T cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 infection and cross-reactive T cells in pre-pandemic cohorts.

      In light of this, inclusion of these targets alongside the major antibody target of S-protein could be critical in maintaining the benefit of vaccination in the case of vaccine-strain mismatch, as could occur with the emergence of novel variants.

      This study complements the small but growing body of evidence that T cells may protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection and supports the potential utility of second-generation vaccines targeting core proteins rather than the spike-only based vaccines.

  2. Ray Bergmann says:

    Yes, it’s a typo, and it should have been: “Hopefully the data is correct about Omicron being less virulent” – “less virulent” meaning “less severe or harmful in its effects.” The data I was presenting was the sobering numbers in the U.S. and territories as this troubled year draws to a close, which mirrors numbers you presented from NSW and other Australian states and which are equally sobering. Yes, the current vaccines still offer a little protection from infection for the vaccinated contact/receiver, and with Omicron the unvaccinated probably don’t infect others meaningfully more than the vaccinated.

    True that it’s not the fault of the young, healthy and vaccinated that the Omicron variant is spreading, and neither was it the fault of the aged and the unvaccinated that the Delta variiant spread! But it’s not the virus that is responsible for its own spread either! The virus isn’t a living being with responsibilities, and we don’t even know oif the virome is a conscious entity in human understanding of the word “conscious”, so blaming it as a responsible entity will not result in its ending up in court on charges.

    The legal responsibility lies with those who still rule under the aegis of a declared pandemic, in spite of the infection fatality rate proving to be a little over 0.2% and an average age of death from Covid above the age of 80. The fact that vaccinations do not prevent infection or transmission further reduces the force of the argument for state government and medical authorities to mantle the political power unleashed in a pandemic-proportion medical emergency!

    It is essential to find a way to break the mass formation psychosis, where a population enters a hypnotic-type trance that makes them willing to sacrifice anything, including their lives, their freedom, and even those of their children!

    John Stuart Mill’s in the introduction to his essay On Liberty (1859), warns against the potentially despotic power the people may exercise in a modern democracy. This tyranny of the majority operates “chiefly through public authorities”. But it can also operate through society collectively acting upon the “separate individuals who compose it”. “Society can and does execute its own mandates” and when it does so in areas “where it ought not to meddle it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression”. An example of this is shown by some unions who support mandating vaccines for hesitant individuals not willing to join the collective will of paticipating in experimental genetic treatments.

    The rational and autonomous individual, Mill maintained, needs protection against “the tyranny of prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose… its own ideas and practises as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them” to fetter and prevent any “development not in harmony with its ways”. One could call this the tyranny of the medical-socialist state.

    To guard against this evolving modern despotism, Mill proposed one very simple principle to govern the dealings of government and society with the individual “in the way of compulsion and control”. That simple principle is that the only end for which a government can legitimately interfere “with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self- protection”.

    This, then, is the harm principle to manipulate for collectivist ends that John Harris and Theodore Dalrymple debate in ‘Is there a moral duty to get vaccinated’ published in the U.K. Telegraph on 22-Dec-2021: John Harris makes the moral case for mandatory vaccination in the public interest. Jean Jacques Rousseau for example thought that securing the ‘General Will’ might require the recalcitrant to be “forced to be free”. (See ‘Misreading Mill: On Liberty and Vaccination’ by Luke Perry posted at dailysceptic.org on 28-Dec-2021)

    John Stuart Mill however recognises that the reasonable individual’s own good, either physical or moral, is “not a sufficient warrant for intervention”. The individual “cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so” or because “to do so would be wise, or even right”.

    To be sure, such reasons may be good for remonstrating, reasoning, persuading or entreating with the recalcitrant “but not for compelling him”. To justify compulsion “the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else”. In that part which merely concerns him or herself, the independence of a so-called “anti-vaxxer” absolute of right. (“anti-vaxxer” is an epthet that nowadays is often used to equate people skeptical of all vaccines with people skeptical of specific vaccines or even of people skeptical of experimental genetic manipulations for which the definition of “vaccine” was recently extended by demand of big-Pharma.)

    On this point Mill insists: “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” He continues: “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way… each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual”.

    Harris’s case for compulsory Covid vaccination (proposed also by some but not all in the union movement) rests on a highly questionable interpretation of the harm principle in relation to the pan-/plan-/scam-demic: namely, minimising societal distress by seeking to reduce avoidable death, hospitalisations and excessive pressure on the NHS. However, with an infection fatality rate of a little over 0.2% and an average age of death from Covid above the age of 80, the case seems hardly compelling, since the social risk does not deviate all that significantly from most winter flu seasons. The fact that vaccinations do not prevent infection or transmission further reduces the force of the argument.
    [‘Misreading Mill: On Liberty and Vaccination’, Perry L, ibid.]

    All individuals, when they step out into the world risk bringing unintentional harm – to themselves and others – whether driving a car, going for a walk, or meeting with friends. Everyday life involves all manner of potential hazards. The point is, though, that an individual’s engagement in the routines of daily life is in, the vast majority of instances, not “calculated to produce evil to someone else”.[ibid.]

    Thus, enlisting Mill on the side of compulsion because vaccine refusal might indirectly harm others, on the grounds it places undue pressure on the NHS, conceptually stretches and ultimately undermines Mill’s ‘simple principle’. Mill was a utilitarian and a moral consequentialist. He also lived in a laissez faire age. There was no NHS in Mill’s day. If there had been, he would quite possibly have argued that if a responsible adult refused the vaccination which the NHS offered to prevent an infectious disease, then the individual would either forego any right to NHS treatment or be required to pay the cost of his care. Actions, after all, have consequences.[ibid.] (R.Bergmann adds: On the other hand the principle of medical care for everyone would no longer apply, and that scenario might not appeal to many citizens thoughtful of their own and their children’s welfare!)

    As numerous libertarian commentators on Mill have pointed out, the distinction between self-regarding and other regarding actions is paramount. Simplifying the distinction, Karl Popper, whom Harris quotes, observed “my freedom to swing my arm stops at your nose”. The point, of course, is that it is my arm and I have a sovereign right over whether I choose to have it vaccinated or not. After all: “Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.” To conflate a purely self-regarding act with an other regarding one is not merely perverse but politically dangerous, as Mill would no doubt have recognised. [Perry L, ibid.]

    Richarda commented at Moon of Alabama blog:
    The vaccines make you less sick, hence the vaccinated are more likely to be asymptomatic. This wouldn’t be a problem if the vaccinated contributed to herd immunity, but I don’t see any logic that says that will happen. But If there were to be a space where there were only unvaccinated post-covid people, history suggests they would have herd immunity. Logically, an asymptomatic person cannot pass enough virus on to them to cause Covid-19 to develop in any of his contacts. It’s indeed changed times. Nevertheless I expect asymptomatic transmission to be rare, except among the vaccinated and they are many.

    1. Hello Ray,

      There is a factual problem with the statement by Karl Popper (whom Harris quotes) when applied to Covid 19: “my freedom to swing my arm stops at your nose’. The point, of course, is that it is my arm and I have a sovereign right over whether I choose to have it vaccinated or not. “

      Being vaccinated not only reduces our chance of being sick but also reduces other people’s chance of being sick with Covid. So to continue the analogy: his fist is going to hit other people’s noses.

      Intellectuals like Popper may well claim the right to refuse vaccination if it were only they who are affected but the decision to remain unvaccinated affects everyone else. It is similar to the imperative given to passengers on the city cat by the ferry conductor. “Think about the other passengers, make sure you wear your masks!”

      UK study on Transmission of Covid-19

      A friend found one of the only studies on this (not easy studies to do) from the UK on 173,00 people (index cases) and their close contacts. Too complex to tabulate but see the attached jpg file. Basically it’s all about the risk of transmission based on the vaccination status of the transmitting party (index case) and the receiver (close contact)!!

      In the images (above) results are shown for the original alpha virus variant (left graphs) and delta (right), upper graphs show probability of a close contact becoming positive over time post vaccination, with respect to index case vaccination status. Bottom graphs show the probability of contact positivity WRT contact vaccination status. Dashed line=unvaccinated. (Vaccines BNT162b2-Pfizer, ChAdOx1-astrazeneca).

      US Study in the Lancet

      US study of effectives of vaccination

      These two graphs are from a US study …. they show protection against post Pfizer symptomatic infection risk dropping off a bit over time … but not risk of hospitalization. That’s good.

      The idea of vaccines working better for more severe outcomes might be biologically predictable. Even after vaccination we have to become infected, and the virus begins replicating in our upper airways etc, before the vaccine-primed immune system begins to kill infected cells.

      Antibody/virus interaction stimulates signaling to produce natural killer cells and macrophages etc which migrate to the infected site to chew up infected cells, this takes time. In this period there must be a chance of transmission of virus irrespective of vaccination status. But even though the antibody response drops off over time (post natural infection and vaccination), the vaccine-trained memory B cells and T immune cells should over some days post infection produce more vaccine-trained antibodies, hence severe outcome vaccine protection doesn’t drop off so much.

      Put another way, vaccination simply allows your immune system to more rapidly begin removing infected cells but it’s difficult for any vaccine to protect totally against transmission.

      So the biggest problem is not really an innate one of the vaccines, which seem to work quite well, but the rapid mutability of coronavirus (like influenza) (i.e. Darwinian evolution favoring selection/survival of more infectious or, provocatively, ….vaccine-resistant??? covid virus variants).

      In these cases our alpha vaccine-induced antibodies would only partially recognise say the omicron virus spike protein (actually probably bind to the spike with lower avidity) … and don’t activate the immune system properly. Further, our bodies tend to stop producing some of the vaccine-induced antibodies over time.

      So these are things you cannot do much about except to give boosters and/or develop new vaccines specifically to omicron. (and encourage people to stop passing it on to each other!!).

      Unions on Covid vaccinations
      Regarding the statement: “Society can and does execute its own mandates” and when it does so in areas “where it ought not to meddle it practises (sic) a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression”. An example of this is shown by some unions who support mandating vaccines for hesitant individuals not willing to join the collective will of paticipating (sic) in experimental genetic treatments.

      Firstly the peak body of the Australian Union Movement, the ACTU, does not support compulsory vaccinations. It says: “Australian Unions are committed to achieving the highest possible rates of vaccination. We support the rollout of safe and effective vaccines and encourage all workers to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible.

      Australian Unions are not health authorities, so we follow the advice of the medical and scientific experts on health-related aspects of COVID-19 and vaccines for COVID-19.

      Mandatory vaccination programs already exist in most parts of Australia for a range of vaccines. They apply to workers who public health authorities have identified as being at risk of contracting and/or spreading a disease.” See https://www.australianunions.org.au/factsheet/vaccinations-your-questions-answered/

      I draw your attention to the following statement on the ACTU website: ” A policy on vaccinations is an example of when consultation is required. It is important to remember that if there is a Health and Safety Representative (HSR – who is a fellow worker elected by workers to represent them on health and safety matters), then the employer must consult with the relevant HSRs as well.

      As mentioned previously, at least two unions CFMEU (mining division) and MUA are currently fighting cases where workers were dismissed by employers who failed to properly consult workers. The former won that case at the Arthur mine in the Hunter Valley.

      in solidarity
      Ian

      1. Ray Bergmann says:

        Thanks Ian, I take your point that the ACTU,does not support compulsory vaccinations and that it’s the state government health ministries that set mandatory vaccination programs in most parts of Australia for a range of vaccines which apply to workers who public health authorities have identified as being at risk of contracting and/or spreading a disease.

        Compare this to Japan where it’s not only the union movement that does not support compulsory vaccinations, but the government Health Ministry also, providing a hotline to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to report any COVID-vaccine discrimination for being unvaccinated.

        In February 2021 In a Cabinet-approved statement, the Japanese government said that while companies should encourage employees to be vaccinated, the decision of whether to get the shots should be entirely up to each individual.

        The Cabinet-approved statement also said that “it is inappropriate to treat workers unfavorably due the fact that they have not been vaccinated,” such as through dismissals, salary cuts and transfers. The statement implied that steps such as making vaccination a condition of recruitment and asking job applicants about their inoculation status during interviews could be deemed inappropriate, too.

        The health ministry also says that COVID-19 vaccination is not a mandatory condition for health care workers, although it is encouraged so as to reduce their risk of infection and make sure the medical system continues to function. In some hospitals separate wards were set up for vaccinated staff wishing not to work alongside unvaccinated staff, in this way not suffering the staff shortages that have been seen in countries where unvaccinated medical and para-medical staff have been stood down.

        With no mandates of any kind the Japanese population is 80% vaccinated purely on the recommendation of the Health Ministry, which provides the I-MASK+ Prevention & Early Outpatient Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 with guidance on the timing and doses of each component medication, as well as the MATH+ Hospital Treatment Protocol for COVID-19, thus avoiding the many hospital deaths that were seen in English-speaking countries. In addition Traditional Chinese Medicine medicated aromatics were used in well-ventilated hospital corridors to protect the nursing staff. The Japanese fermented food natto has proved to be helpful in helping the immune system.

        In June 2021 the Japan Federation of Bar Associations released a report outlining the results of its two-day hotline in May catering to vaccine-related inquiries, such as from those feeling discriminated against at work or college for their refusal to get vaccinated.

        The hotline handled 208 cases in total, with callers ranging from medical students and health care professionals to staff at nursing homes and company employees. Many cited their fear of side-effects, pre-existing health conditions or tendency to develop allergic reactions as the reason for their vaccine reluctance.

        There were also nursing students who claimed to have been told they wouldn’t be allowed to take part in clinical practice, and therefore gain credits for the class unless they were vaccinated. Others cited their experience of feeling ostracized by colleagues who are generally hostile toward the unvaccinated, according to the report.

        In an incident that mirrored these complaints, the labor ministry’s regional bureau in Hyogo Prefecture was contacted earlier this year by a nurse with a one-year contract who was pressured to quit after declining to get immunized, and told that those without jabs would be subject to furlough after April.

        Taking on the case, the Hyogo labor bureau reminded the nurse’s hospital that under the labor contract law, midcontract termination of employment cannot be justified without a “compelling reason.” The bureau also cited a supplementary resolution to the revised preventative vaccination law that states that discrimination, bullying and workplace maltreatment against those not inoculated against COVID-19 is “unforgivable.”

        The hospital eventually gave in, acknowledging it “lacked understanding” about vaccine policies at work, and maintained the nurse’s employment by reassigning her to a useful position in the hospital where she would have less physical exposure to patients and staff in wards treating infectious diseases.

        Sho Kawasaki, a Tokyo-based corporate lawyer who primarily represents medical institutions explained that transferring unvaccinated employees to positions that involve less physical exposure to clients or patients could be the furthest they can go. “The basic understanding is that employers have the leeway to reshuffle personnel, so putting (those unvaccinated) in roles where interpersonal communication is less required, for example, would be one possible strategy,” Kawasaki said.

        This kind of job reassignment, the lawyer said, is likely to be seen as more acceptable when applied to high-risk workplaces where “the emergence of virus clusters can be fatal,” such as hospitals and nursing homes.

        Japan’s relaxed atmosphere during the Olympics may have contributed to the summer spike, with people spent more time in groups during weeks of blistering weather, even if they were not allowed to enter venues. On 13 August, the host city reported a record 5,773 new Covid-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant. Nationwide the total exceeded 25,000. But following the Olympics spike new infections plummeted and on 11 September 2021 Tokyo reported 49 cases, the lowest daily figure since late June 2020, while the nationwide count was 369 in a country of 270 million people.

        Experts said that that after a frustratingly slow start until the Olympics, with the Olympics spike the vaccination rollout transformed into an impressive public health campaign that met with little of the previous resistance.

        The government has said that vaccines had been given to everyone who wanted them by November, while the new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said booster shots would be offered from December, beginning with medical workers and older people.

        Another factor cited by experts is the widespread wearing of masks – a habit ingrained during pre-pandemic flu seasons. As other countries drop requirements for face coverings in indoor and other settings, most Japanese still shudder at the thought of venturing out maskless.

        Railways stations are again packed with commuters now that many companies are no longer allowing their employees to work from home. Travelling across prefectural lines for leisure is no longer seen as a significant risk.

        “The end of the emergency doesn’t mean we are 100% free,” Shigeru Omi, the government’s chief medical adviser, cautioned recently. “The government should send a clear message to the people that we can only relax gradually.”

        (Thanks to various Japan Times articles and to Justin McCurry’s article ‘Japan’s surprise Covid success story’ theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/13, as well as the Jimmy Dore 25-Dec-2021 vdeo “Japan’s COVID Rates PLUMMETING – But Why?” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S5YG7X52PE)

  3. NSW confirmed a record 5715 COVID infections on Thursday – almost as many recorded across the entire country on Wednesday. 1500 medical staff are off work, sick with Covid.

    The cases were diagnosed from more than 160,000 tests in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday and represent an increase of 1952 from Tuesday.

    The figure is just shy of the 5725 cases reported across Australia on Wednesday.

    One death was also reported in NSW on Thursday.

    The number of virus patients in NSW hospitals has climbed to 347, up 45. They include 45 in intensive care.

    There were also record COVID spikes in other states on Thursday, with Queensland’s infections spiking to 369, South Australia with 484, Tasmania reporting a pandemic-high of 26 and the ACT 85. – from https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/nsw/2021/12/23/nsw-masks-check-ins/?fbclid=IwAR3mVnyx-mWzvZiHpjPg3OGyZyQsyUgI_MU6eYCR6GZkUyDSyXGaDXQrGdo

    1. Ray Bergmann says:

      Thank you Dr Daan Suan for an informative video. One person can infect many more people and so the advice for people to keep socially distancing over Xmas and New Year is pertinent. Further advice could be to celebrate outdoors or under a hired marquee which will further reduce the infection rate, especially if we are lucky enough to have sunny weather at New Year.

      I think there is good evidence that Omicron is less virulent, while being more contagious.

      The WHO has announced that the Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic is being driven by “young, healthy, vaccinated” people who generally have a much healthier immune system than older people. Data coming out from across the world is showing that the young, healthy and vaccinated individuals are spreading Omicron. NSW is seeing an increase in cases predominantly among the vaccinated, including a cluster linked to a nightclub in Newcastle visited only by the vaccinated. See ‘Expert reveals who is spreading Omicron variant of Covid-19’ at Frank Chung’s article at news.com.au dated 14-Dec-2021)

      “Generally those first cases are in relatively young, relatively healthy and – in the context of Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand – in relatively highly vaccinated groups,” Dr Catherine Smallwood, a senior emergency officer at the World Health Organisation’s Europe office, told the UK’s Telegraph news outlet. (See Sarah Newcy’s article ‘Omicron wave driven by ‘young, healthy, vaccinated’ population’ published 13-Dec-2021)

      People who received two doses of the Pfizer shot, also produced significantly less interferon upon stimulation, and this can hamper the initial innate immune response against the virus. (See Immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants after heterologous and homologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/BNT162b2 vaccination’ by Barros-Martins J, Hammerschmidt S.I, et.al., nature.com)

      There are sobering numbers in the U.S. and territories too as this troubled year draws to a close:

      505,013,980 coronavirus shots injected in the U.S. and territories[1]
      983,756 reports of injury to VAERS
      20,622 reports of death
      34,615 reports of permanent disability
      3,365 reports of miscarriage
      following coronavirus vaccinations.

      And yet,
      All-cause mortality is higher in 2021 than in 2020.
      COVID-19 deaths are higher in 2021 than in 2020.
      New coronavirus cases in the U.S. just reached a record high.

      The data is the data and by every objective measure the coronavirus vaccine campaign has failed, if the intention was to reduce infections. Hopefully the data is correct about Omicron being more virulent, which should reduce pressure on ICR wards in the present situation where hospital and allied medical staff are reduced due to unvaccinated allied medical staff being stood down in the past few weeks, even after they had braved through so many more dangerous months of alpha, beta, gamma and delta variants. It would make sense for the government health departments to have reassigned the unvaccinated staff to wards where vital operations and outpatient care have been curtailed because of the pandemic, the lockdowns and the mandates.

      1. Ray Bergmann says:

        So far, SARS-CoV-2 variants have mutated into less dangerous versions, which is fortunate, but the risk of the COVID shots creating a “monster” still remains… The Omicron variant appears to have significant resistance against antibodies produced by the original COVID shots, which is why Omicron infection is being primarily reported in those who have received the injections. (See ‘COVID Shots May Also Cause More Hazardous Variants’ in ‘How the Endless Boosters Will Destroy Immune Function’
        by Dr Joseph Mercola at mercola.com/archive/2021/12/28/)

        A paper posted May 6, 2021 on the preprint server medRxiv reported that the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID jab “reprograms both adaptive and innate immune responses,” causing immune depletion. While they confirmed the jab “induced effective humoral and cellular immunity against several SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the shot “also modulated the production of inflammatory cytokines by innate immune cells upon stimulation with both specific (SARS-CoV-2) and nonspecific (viral, fungal and bacterial) stimuli.” [ibid. Mercola]

        In other words, we’re looking at a horrible tradeoff. You may get some protection against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, but you’re weakening your overall immune function, which opens the door wide to all sorts of other health problems, from bacterial, fungal and viral infections to cancer and autoimmunity. After the injection, innate immune cells had a markedly decreased response to toll-like receptors 4, 7 and 8 (TLR4, TLR7, TLR8) ligands, while cytokine responses induced by fungi were stronger. According to the authors, defects in TLR7 have previously been linked to an increased susceptibility to COVID-19 in young males. (See ibidem Dr Joseph Mercola at mercola.com/archive/2021/12/28/)

        People who received two doses of the Pfizer shot, also produced significantly less interferon upon stimulation, and this can hamper the initial innate immune response against the virus. (See Immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants after heterologous and homologous ChAdOx1 nCoV-19/BNT162b2 vaccination’ by Barros-Martins J, Hammerschmidt S.I, et.al., nature.com)

        Interferons are any of a group of heat-stable soluble basic antiviral glycoprotein cytokines of low molecular weight that are produced by cells exposed usually to the action of a virus, sometimes to the action of another intracellular parasite (such as a bacterium), or experimentally to the action of some chemicals. Cytokines are a broad and loose category of small proteins important in cell signaling. Cytokines are peptides and cannot cross the lipid bilayer of cells to enter the cytoplasm. Cytokines have been shown to be involved in autocrine, paracrine and endocrine signaling as immunomodulating agents.

        An antibody is a Y-shaped protein produced by B cells of the immune system in response to exposure to molecules capable of stimulating an immune response (antigens). The tip of each Y-shaped arm contains antigen binding sites (paratopes) that bind to a specific portion of the antigen’s surface (epitope). This binding helps to eliminate antigens from the body, either by direct neutralization or by “tagging” them for elimination by other arms of the immune system.

        An antigen is a molecule capable of stimulating an immune response. They may be proteins, polysaccharides, lipids or nucleic acids. Each antigen has distinct surface features that are recognized by the immune system.

      2. Hello Ray,

        Virulent means extremely severe or harmful in its effects. There is no evidence that “Hopefully the data is correct about Omicron being more virulent” is a true statement. Is it a typo? The statement is contradicted elsewhere in your comment.

        Also the statement: “The data is the data (sic) and by every objective measure the coronavirus vaccine campaign has failed, if the intention was to reduce infections.” is misleading.

        What studies are available suggest that the Covid vaccines are protective and reduce transmission to close contacts by one could say ~50% for the alpha variant to which the vaccines were designed to target.

        Pfizer is a bit better than astrazeneca.

        Protection drops off over time.

        Vaccines not as protective for delta and presumably less so for Omicron seeing it has evolved even further away from alpha.

        If the virus hadn’t evolved from alpha the world might be in a much better position.

        But current vaccines still offer a little protection from infection for the vaccinated contact/receiver. But with Omicron the unvaccinated probably don’t infect others meaningfully more than the vaccinated!!!

        Also I do not like the wording “the Omicron wave of the coronavirus pandemic is being driven by “young, healthy, vaccinated” people who generally have a much healthier immune system than older people.”

        You (and the WHO) may wish to re-phrase. The virus is the problem not the young.

        Ian

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