20211202 General

Variants

I’m seeing a lot of news stories saying things along the lines of “don’t panic, Omicron might not be as 1) lethal, 2) immune-evasive, 3) contagious as you think!”

#1: For the stories about the severity of the disease, note that South Africa’s population is a LOT younger than most of the developed world and in addition to hospitalizations lagging cases, the data is also incomplete, so hospitalizations go UP retroactively, as this tweet discusses.

#2 and #3: It is true that the immune-evasiveness or contagiousness might be as bad as it looks, but Gentle Reader, those are linked. If one isn’t as bad as we think, the other will be worse than we think.

Should you be panicking right now? Nah. Case counts are low right now. Should you be worried about what’s going to happen in a month? ABSOLUTELY. It’s something with exponential growth, and right now we are on what looks like a flattish part of the curve. In a month, it will be very steep.


This preprint suggests that Omicron reinfects people more than other variants did.


This Twitter thread gives an update on Omicron. Spoiler: it doesn’t look good.


This article says that prior infection doesn’t give much protection against infection with Omicron.

Vaccines

Results from a big UK study called COV-BOOST just came out. They tested boosters of Novavax, Pfizer, Moderna, Janssen, AZ, CureVac, Valneva (a French vax), and meningococcal vaccine. For Novavax, Valneva, and Pfizer, they tested both full- and half-doses. Prior to the boost, people had either AZ/AZ or Pfizer/Pfizer.

  • They found worse side effects with:
    • AZ/AZ + mRNA booster
    • Pfizer/Pfizer + AZ booster
    • Pfizer/Pfizer + Janssen booster
  • For people who started with AZ/AZ:
    • Their antibody levels were lowest with half-Valneva boosters and highest for Moderna boosters.
    • Their cellular responses (which I think means T-cells) were lowest with AZ and highest with Moderna boosters. The improvements were “significant” for all the boosters except for AZ, half-Valneva, and full-Valneva.
    • All the boosters gave a higher immune response than the meningococcal vaccine.
    • They had more side effects with mRNA or Janssen boosters than from the shots.
  • For people who started with Pfizer/Pfizer:
    • Their antibody levels were lowest with half-Valneva boosters and highest for Moderna boosters.
    • Their cellular responses were lowest with half-Valneva boosters and highest for Moderna boosters.
    • All the boosters but Valneva a higher immune response than the meningococcal vaccine.
    • They had more side effects with Moderna, CureVac, AZ, and Janssen boosters than from the other shots.
  • People who got Moderna, Janssen, and CureVac reported fevers more often than people who got half- or full-dose Pfizer boosters.
  • The more mRNA, the more immune reaction. Pfizer/Pfizer+Moderna had the more immune reaction. I keep wanting diversity to win, but no. MRNA wins. I stand corrected: Pfizer/Pfizer+AZ is a bit better than Pfizer/Pfizer+Pfizer and just slightly better than Pfizer/Pfizer+Moderna for T cells.
  • There were 24 serious reactions (out of about 2878 people).

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