The United States keeps data on COVID-19, but much of the tracking we should be most interested in now is what health care providers and patients report voluntarily. Vaccine breakthroughs and side effects rely on reports from providers and patients, so both are likely underestimates. The CDC decided not to collect data on all COVID-19 breakthrough infections, concentrating only on those that require hospitalization or those that are fatal.
The announcement Tuesday that the CDC was once again recommending masks for people indoors regardless of vaccination status was puzzling. However, the messaging on COVID-19 vaccines has been a disaster for months, and this appeared to be more of a punish-the-whole-class approach to encourage the unvaccinated to acquiesce.
Data from other countries that have been dealing with the Delta variant longer may provide another explanation. NBC News reported the following after CDC Director Rachel Walensky’s comments:
Federal health officials still believe fully vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission. Still, some vaccinated people could be carrying higher levels of the virus than previously understood and potentially transmit it to others.
Looking at Israel and the United Kingdom, the percentage of transmission that fully vaccinated individuals represent may not be so small. Israel used the Pfizer mRNA vaccine primarily, and the UK has used AstraZeneca, which uses similar construction to Johnson & Johnson in the United States. The Swiss Policy Institute (SPI) has been looking at data from both countries, and it appears the vaccine’s ability to prevent infection wanes rather quickly. The Pfizer vaccine’s ability to prevent mild infection has dropped from 95% to 40%.
Of more significant concern, on Tuesday, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing severe illness has fallen to 80% from 96%. Data released by the Israeli Health Ministry last week indicate that time since vaccination is a crucial measure, with a caveat:
Data released by the Health Ministry last week suggested that people vaccinated in January have just 16% protection against infection now, while in those vaccinated in April, the effectiveness was at 75%.
Doctors note that figures may not only reflect time that has passed since vaccination, but also a bias according to which those who vaccinated early were often people with health conditions and who are more prone to infection, such as the elderly.
UK researchers studied the Delta variant and found that both Pfizer and AstraZeneca had slightly lower efficacy in preventing symptomatic illness from COVID-19. Pfizer declined from 93.7% to 88%, and AstraZeneca fell from 74.5% to 67%. They did not look specifically at the date of vaccination as was analyzed in Israel. From these two data sets, as well as information from countries where vaccination rates are low, the Swiss Policy Institute concludes (emphasis the author’s):
Thus, the false promise of very high protection against “symptomatic infection”, found during official vaccine trials, was simply based on very high short-term serum antibody levels mimicking mucosal immunity. Conceivably, the pharmaceutical companies may even have known that this was just a (very lucrative) “flash in the pan” and not a lasting protective effect.
In contrast, protection against severe disease is achieved by lower serum antibody levels in combination with immunological memory (B cells) and cellular immunity (T cells). However, the Delta variant has already achieved partial immune evasion (as did Beta and Gamma, but not Alpha), and future coronavirus variants will likely achieve almost complete [vaccine] immune evasion.
Based on other data from Israel — which tracked recovered patients and did not require them to get vaccinated for a green passport — and recent studies, those who experienced COVID-19 appear to have the mucosal immunity vaccinated individuals do not, according to the SPI. While the researchers note that we seem to have decoupled COVID-19 infections from deaths, they note (emphasis the author’s):
In contrast, vaccination cannot achieve “sterile immunity” against infection and infectiousness. Thus, the whole idea of “vaccination certificates” has become obsolete – at least from a medical and epidemiological perspective – and should be rejected: the claim that it’s just “the unvaccinated” that are driving outbreaks – a claim made by many authorities – is simply false.
For instance, just this week [a] “fully vaccinated” Australian managed to pre-symptomatically infect about 60 people at a party in the United States. Many similar stories have already been reported in Europe and Israel : fully vaccinated people can easily transmit the virus even to large groups. Hence, imposing “vaccination certificates” or “green passes” may only serve a political purpose .
What the current vaccines seem to provide is therapeutic, not immunologic. Countries with high vaccination rates are not experiencing the same level of COVID-19 deaths that nations such as India or Russia are. However, Israel reports that fully vaccinated individuals are responsible for about 20% of transmission. An earlier study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center estimated only about 20% of symptomatic people transmitted COVID-19 because spread is dependent on viral load, which peaks a few days after infection.
Any push to vaccinate children, low-risk young adults, and the recovered should end with this data. It appears it would be far better for large portions of the younger population to be exposed to COVID-19 and develop mucosal immunity, as seen in recovered patients. As researchers asserted early in the pandemic:
We are currently faced with the question of how the CoV-2 severity may change in the years ahead. Our analysis of immunological and epidemiological data on endemic human coronaviruses (HCoVs) shows that infection-blocking immunity wanes rapidly, but disease-reducing immunity is long-lived. Our model, incorporating these components of immunity, recapitulates both the current severity of CoV-2 and the benign nature of HCoVs, suggesting that once the endemic phase is reached and primary exposure is in childhood, CoV-2 may be no more virulent than the common cold.
Our health experts encouraged broad-based vaccine compliance rather than focusing on at-risk populations. They made promises that the vaccines are not bearing out. Rather than admit a mistake, they will push a false narrative for political purposes and put more restrictions on you and your children. When will they be forced just to admit that COVID-19 will be traveling with us for the foreseeable future?