2021-03-23/4 General

Special double-issue today, and I spent all day yesterday doing my taxes.


Canada might be facing another vaccine drought.

First, the European Union said yesterday they would embargo all vaccines from leaving the EU. Note that the EU is mad at AstraZeneca Inc. — the EU says that AZ has been sending vax to the UK before sending vax to EU countries. The EU is not mad at Pfizer, it’s not mad at Moderna, it’s not mad at Canada. So in my opinion, it is highly likely that even if there is an embargo, we’ll still get our Pfizer and Moderna from Europe; there is also no reason for the USA to not follow through with their promise to loan Canada 1.5M doses of AZ.

But there might not be an embargo. A number of people inside the EU are pushing back, including the leader of Germany and the Prime Minister of Ireland. The UK has pointed out that some of the components in the Pfizer vaccine are made in the UK, and that the UK could retaliate if the EU interferes with AZ.

Today, India also said they would embargo vaccine from leaving the country. All the AZ vaccine that Canada has gotten to date has come from Serum Institute India. I suspect that this is embargo is more likely to go into effect.

Speaking of AZ — they have “updated their data” and are now using the slightly worse numbers that they should have. It looks like they tried to get away with something, got caught, got caught, got spanked, and are now pretending it was a mistake. :eyeroll:

Good news! There’s a preprint which finds that T-cells trained on the vaccines work just fine against the VOCs. (Most of the papers which have yelled about how the vaccines are not as effective against VOCs have looked at B-cells, not T-cells. B-cells are important, yeah, but they are not the only part of the immune system.

Outstanding news! A study came out where 37K health care workers were tested regularly, including after one dose of vax, including after a second dose of vax. They found that two weeks after their second shot, only 0.05% — one in ten THOUSAND — had COVID-19 without symptoms. That means asymptomatic transmission is going to be really, really rare. In that study, 1% of the health care workers got symptomatic COVID-19, and that means that of the people who get COVID-19, only 5% of those will be symptom-free (and hence dangerous).


There has been at least one troubling variant recently discovered in India. They don’t have names/numbers yet, it’s too early.


Scientists have found that people who have gotten a flu shot are slightly less likely to get COVID-19. Me, I suspect it’s because people who get a flu shot are slightly more likely to be responsible and to worry about their health – things that also make them more likely to follow anti-COVID measures.


I, like many people have been trying to figure out how much of a risk Long COVID is. Many places toss around 30% as the number of COVID patients who get Long COVID, but I worry that all those come from a study with some flaws: it was really small and it depended upon people replying to a survey.

Today there was a report which said that 70% of patients in the UK who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 still had symptoms after five months and 18% still could not work.

I also discovered this Nature paper today, which says 13.3% self-reported (on an app) symptoms longer than 28 days, and 4.5% for more than 8 weeks, and 2.3% for more than 12 weeks. However, it uses an app, so like the survey, there might be some self-selection.

Bottom line: Long COVD is bad, but I think we still don’t know how bad.