(Note – this is a copy of a post I stuck on my shiny newish blog which, so far, consists solely of gibberings about Covid and vaccines! I need to expand my focus… Posting this here as it has an evolutionary flavour. Looking forward to arguing about Natural Selection for the tenth time!).
I have discussed Geert vanden Bossche’s debatable theories before. Briefly, he argues that mass vaccination in a pandemic ‘selects’ for mutants that escape the immunity conferred by the vaccine, and this threat is reason enough to just stop. He ignores selection for escape of what is loosely, but erroneously, termed ‘natural immunity’, and the enormous health and social costs attaching to the sledgehammering of this nut. Unfortunately for his theories, all variants so far have arisen in poorly vaccinated settings.
Now, Bret Weinstein – who claims to be an evolutionary biologist, yet – attempts, in his podcast and substack, ‘On Driving SARS-CoV-2 Extinct’, to rescue vanden Bossche from the dumpster and brush the banana skins from his shoulders.
Here’s an excerpt – ‘Rounding the earth’ is the work of one Mathew Crawford:
(I am aware that a properly-conducted review would include links to sources. In my defence, I can’t bear to! Do your research.)
Now, this is pretty desperate stuff. Rather than recognise the possibility that there are other causes for increase of a variant besides vaccine, it is enough that a vaccine has been used, on however small a number, within a few hundred miles of the epicentre!
Selection requires a differential in output. If one variant produces exactly the same number of secondary cases (on average) than another in the same environment – if they possess the same R value, in epidemiological terms – there is no opportunity for selection. It cannot increase relative to the other (by selection) without a differential it can affect: to get into more bodies it must have the greater R.
The role of vaccine effectiveness
Now, this selective advantage can only happen even in principle if the efficacy of the vaccine against infection (VE(i)) is greater than zero. Efficacy in ideal conditions represents the differential between a vaccinated and an unvaccinated group of the same size and composition, where no-one knows which group they are in. In real world use, the term ‘effectiveness’ is used instead of ‘efficacy’. In the real world, people know if they are vaccinated or not, affecting behaviour, and it also becomes more difficult to equalise groups with respect to other differentials such as age, comorbidity, socioeconomic factors and so on. Because of this – news though this will be to countless amateur internet data analysts – you cannot naively count cases in the two groups, and claim this accurately captures VE.
So, an accurately determined VE(i) gives the percentage differential in case count between treated and untreated groups of equivalent composition. 100% effectiveness means no cases in the vaccinated group, 0% means an identical (or a statistically insignificant differential in) case count. Intermediate values give the percentage reduction – eg 40% VE means 6 cases in the vaccinated for every 10 in unvaccinated: a 40% reduction. From this and the above, then, it is clear that VE 0 cannot generate vaccine escape – there is no possibility of getting into more bodies if the vaccine is completely ineffective; there is no selective pressure if it doesn’t work.
But the relationship is not simply dichotomous. The strength of selection in the vaccinated, minimal when VE is zero and maximal when 100%, must therefore vary continuously between those extremes. The phrase “does not stop you catching it or passing it on”, regurgitated monotonously online and whenever anyone sticks a microphone in front of a sceptic, means only that VE(i) is less than 100% – whereas the intent of most regurgitators is to suggest VE(i) is therefore zero, and there are exactly as many cases in a vaccinated as an unvaccinated group.
It is true that VE(i) is steadily going down, due to waning, antigenic drift and the generalised immune escape of variants. Many even claim (based on shoddy VE-hacking by those amateur analysts referenced above) that VE(i) is negative for omicron.That being so would mean that omicron, at least, is not the variant vanden Bossche is looking for.
For how can it select for immune escape if it confers no immunity?
We can extend this argument backwards. Each variant going forwards has successively diminished VE(i) – and, as the ‘does not stop’-ers continually remind us, immunity wanes anyway. Therefore, Vanden Bosschian Selection must have been getting steadily weaker as a force, if it ever existed. But because Crawford has managed to locate a handful of vaccinees in the vicinity of each step, he gives them the same assumed selective force as ‘wild-type’. I’d bet a pound to a peanut that Crawford and Weinstein have been pushing the implicit-0% “does not stop” narrative throughout 2021 (God forbid anyone should have a reason outside themselves to get jabbed!). And yet, a classic have-cake-eat-cake scenario, they also argue as if selective power were maximal throughout the series. No waning, no antigenic drift.
It is interesting to see how doggedly people have been pursuing the absolutist “does-not-stop” line, and they seem almost relieved that omicron and waning have come along to retrospectively justify the falsehood they have been pushing throughout 2021. “It’s going down” is a tacit admission that it was once up, no? But you’d have struggled to find a sceptic able to concede that in mid 2021. To concede it would kick one of the legs out from under their no-vax-‘cos-I’m-OK stance. Yet the graphs they gleefully point to now show clearly that, when they were vigorously arguing against there being any protective effect whatsoever, there quite clearly was.
Sure it wanes. But you don’t start off waned. Anyone commencing a course now will not have to worry about waning for a good while. Regarding waning as a justification for not getting jabbed is akin to regarding a motor vehicle’s Certificate of Roadworthiness as unnecessary, since it will expire next year. On the other hand, anyone who had the disease in early 2020 may have little protection left; renewal may be appropriate.
The role of frequency
Ignorance of diminishing VE is not even the main thing wrong with Crawford’s analysis. If we assume, for argument’s sake, that a variant can gain a copy specifically by infecting a vaccinated person, and these are rare, how is this supposed to translate into widespread transmission? The individuals in these trials were jabbed then went back to their communities, spread out; little pinpricks in the broader ground of unvaccinated individuals. Our variant gets an extra copy from infecting such a vaccinee, but it may have a long wait to find another. Remember that it only gets an advantage in vaccinees, in this example. The rest of the time, it wanders round the unvaccinated in direct competition for bodies with its ancestor, against whom it has no advantage. So this restrictive scenario isn’t going to work.
OK, you say, let’s give it an advantage in the rest of the population too. Perhaps it can evade innate immunity, or evade the immunity of the previously infected. Indeed it might, and does. But now, we have abandoned vaccination as a unique cause of selective advantage altogether. If we create a selective advantage outside of vaccinees, that could easily be a prime driver itself – especially if there are far more such individuals. It doesn’t speak well of Weinstein’s grasp of evolutionary biology that he failed to notice this effect of the rarity of the advantageous circumstance on the strength of selection.
This is what we see in practice. The variants thrown up so far do not differentially ‘prefer’ vaccinees. They are simply hyper-infectious, and evade innate, infection-acquired and vaccine-induced immunity with not much discrimination. Such discrimination as does exist appears to give greater advantage, if anything, to escape of infection-acquired immunity. This is the opposite of what is needed; people can’t argue that ‘natural immunity generates fewer cases’ at the same time as arguing ‘vaccines select more strongly’.
The role of mutation
Mutations do not necessarily arise where they find their advantage. They are a function of number of replications – the more infections there are, the more opportunity for mutation. Once arisen, mutations are metaphorically chucked against the wall to see if any stick. Outside of hosts that provide an advantage (in terms of additional bodies entered), they can only drift. Once they hit the right kind of host, they get a boost, and if there are a lot of such hosts, they get a lot of such boosts. This can be enough to drive out and replace the ancestral type, where ‘the right kind of host’ is common. But consider: if there were a way of reducing the number of replications, that would reduce the number of mutations. Do we have such a way? Well, yes. Vaccination. Sure it’s not perfect. Sure it wanes. But it will help limit the problem. If people who spent last year arguing against the protective effect had instead embraced it, we might be in a better position now Even 20% effectiveness against infection is protective – 8 cases per 10 unvaccinated, instead of 10. That’s two individuals not passing it on who otherwise would have. And because, unlike additive parameters like hospitalisation and death, the effect compounds, the benefit goes beyond one generation. With an R of 2, after 1 interval we have 16 instead of 20. After 2 we have 32 vs 40. After 3, 64 vs 80, and so on. And of course, the presence of other vaccinees in the population reduces that R anyway. Every little helps.
Thank goodness you have no political power or influence.
Nonsense. All the management and workers in our Vietnam factory got shot up with Moderna, Pfizer, and AZ, . A third of the management staff (4/12) have already caught COVID even with 2 boosters.
We know the Sinovac shots are trash. so the workers prolly gave Covid to the management. But the management couldn’t block Covid with their Moderna, Pfizer and AZ armour.
So the shots neither protect against infection or transmission.
IANS, those shots are worthless.
natural immunity cant be beat.
Well, I have plenty of anecdotal examples of doubly and triply vaccinated friends catching Covid. In all cases, the result was no or mild symptoms, except for one friend who still has smell and taste impairment after three months. The risk of severe or fatal symptoms rises dramatically in the unvaccinated, as hospital admissions confirm.
I know one woman in my community who has caught Covid three times (she has three school age kids). You’d think natural immunity would prevent further infection if it “can’t be beat”.
Ummm, cherry-picked anecdotes, the best!
I find you rdelusions entertaining — my favorite is your claim that flu shots were never called vaccines until this pandemic rolled along, viz:
But history says otherwise.
Reality not your strong suit, I guess.
pedantic much? You sound like Flint.
Nobody gives a shit about the technical definition of a vaccine. People only want to know if they are protected or not. The polio vaccine does not confer absolute protection but a 99.99999998 percent survival rate is virtual protection and the best one can ask for.
Not so with COVID shots. And what’s more the risks (of getting the COVID jab to only get 50-60% protection even after a gazillion boosts) are astronomically higher that ‘real’ vaccines.
Only timid, foolish, and lazy people would think getting the COVID jab is a good idea! And it looks like there are a lot of timid, foolish and lazy people.
I am proof-positive that taking responsibility for your own health pays big dividends. But it takes work. People are just too lazy to care for themselves and they gladly waive their rights and responsibilities so they just need to get the quick jab.
All I can say is that I will be saying alot of ‘I told you so!’s these coming years. Already I got a lot of staff that are asking for sick leave like every other week. “gotta go to the clinic”. And its gonna keep on happening.
The COVID jabs are bad news! Period.
Ummm, cherry-picked anecdotes, the best!
I find you rdelusions entertaining — my favorite is your claim that flu shots were never called vaccines until this pandemic rolled along, viz:
But history says otherwise.
Reality not your strong suit, I guess.
The key take away is that she got it three times and she is still standing without the fucking jab. Kudos to her.
Now if she would have been juicing daily she wouldnt have gotten COVID even once. Its a fact. Juicing prevents colds and flu easily.
But you have to do the work! You have to go to the market and get those dark green veggies. You have to buy powdered wheat grass. You have to have a blender. You have to cut them all up. You have to invest in vitamins and supplements.
You have to do the work! But its worth it! Then you wont have to have god only knows what kind of shit running through your veins that do diddly to prevent COVID.
Oh, by the way. Beside the veggie juice I make, I also do grapefruit-lemon juice. Peel them, boil the peels slowly for two hours, pour the juice into bottles, crush the leftover peels and put them and the leftover fruit in a blender, mix them up, then put them back into the fruit peel juice base.
Now we are kicking COVID ass.
Nature works a whole lot better that scien(tism). God gave you all you need to protect yourself. Oh, but I forgot many of you on this board are atheists. no wonder you love the jab. Investing in your beliefs or lack thereof. Hey, more power to you.
I like the way you play — ignore all the data, declare yourself the winner, and challenge anyone to try not to be dismissed or ignored. Heads you win, tails we lose.
Meanwhile, the way vaccines are tested is to take some very large group of people, give half of them the vaccine and half a placebo, wait a while, and see how many cases occurred in each group. If more cases in the control group, the vaccine probably did some good. If LOTS AND LOTS more people in the control group got sick, the vaccine is highly effective.
But wait! Turns out the COVID virus mutates like crazy. This is partially due to the nature of the virus, and partially due to the unfortunately large number of victims serving as mutation labs. The most recent Omicron variant has four major mutations (of a great many) that are of interest. Three of them aid the virus particles in hiding from even a vaccinated immune system, by modifying the spikes the virus uses to invade cells to render the virus invisible or inaccessible to antibodies. And the fourth mutation, it turns out, makes the Omicron variants much less dangerous than the prior Delta variant.
The first three mutations enable the virus to be probably the fastest-spreading virus ever — AND seriously reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine in fighting it off. There have been several occasions lately (like the gridiron dinner) where everyone attending was fully vaccinated, and over 70 of them got infected. But we know this because these people tested positive (same at several other events), NOT because they were symptomatic. Clearly, the vaccines are nowhere near as effective now as they were against earlier variants, in terms of contracting the illness. There are solid statistics suggesting the vaccine is minimizing symptoms, so it remains worth getting but is by no means a substitute for wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands frequently, avoiding indoor crowds, improving ventilation, etc.
By implication, these mutations suggest a very large number of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases, visible only to antibody tests. Hospitalizations and deaths are going down, but it’s not clear that actual cases are.
How one’s religious faith affects either the vaccine or the virus isn’t clear. How religious faith affects one’s grasp of reality is much clearer.
Nobody in my family has been sick (with upper respiratory infections) since the panic-demic. My 17 yo recently had a cold for 72 hours. After the “Eastern European Treatment” and zinc + Vit D, he recovered overnight. My wife deals with covid-19 positive patients regularly. She has not had one positive test ever…
Ever since our BioFire Diagnostic Machines have been “upgraded” in April 2020, we have had a few influenza positive tests vs 20 000 to 30 00 0 every year.
A miracle of modern science.. evolution at its best…
Please stop embarrassing yourself!!!
Up to 15% of SEASONAL UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS called THE FLU, even among ignorant people like yourself, are caused by the so-called corona viruses. ASK the RNA JOKE. He should know… He will pretend that it is meaningless… I’m sure… lol
I like you but you are very naive…
1. Keep in mind the sterilizing vaccines are not a good business model for greedy Pharma.
2. What do you do if you want your company to cure the disease or virus? Do you? Would you?
3. You make them take the treatment for as long as it is possible, no?
4. Greed never sleeps…
Don’t be a moron!!! She probably had a positive PCR test which is extremely reliable; 97% false positive..
Naah. You are wrong, is all. There are plenty of coronaviruses in circulation — always have been. Plenty of them cause URTIs too. None of them cause THE FLU, which means an infection caused by an inFLUenza virus. See, it’s even in the name!
What a silly thing to say. They aren’t even in the same phylum.
You mean positive predictive value, I guess.
I had not realized the tests were that good. Thank you for motivating me to do my own research.
About as useful as advice gets from you.🥴
The family live in the village but I’m not going to call on them with a checklist of questions. I’ll be sure to ask next time I bump into them. 🙄
But wait, but wait! J-Mac, those are just cherry-picked anecdotes (insert sarcasm), don’t you know?. LOL!
That’s what happens when skeptical (not) people let their political biases cloud their judgement. They are certain YOUR anecodotes are cherry-picked and meaningless BUT not theirs!
We need to rename this site “The Skeptical (to a point) Zone”
Hmmm…..No SHIT sherlock!! that’s the friggin’ point, isn’t it? The mRNA shots cant get a handle on Corona virus mutations just like flu shots cant deal with mutating influeza viruses.
But wait! Was it a shock to the WHO, the CDC, the FJB admin? No, no, and NO.
THATS the power of fascist government/corporate collusion – to coerce public acceptance of questionable drugs and simultaneously suppress the use of effective therapies (Tess Lawrie’s analysis puts paid to the claim that Ivermectin was not an effective prophylactic or early-treatment therapy).
Nope. We have covered this previously.
That was a lame reply then…and still lame to bring it up again now.
It appears you are head-over-heals for a skeptical chick that ridicules people running after horse de-wormer while professing at the same time to NOT be doing that.
She cited an Egyptian study that was plagued with issues as if only Egyptian could get caught in such chicanery. So Ivermectin is guilty as charged because….Egyptians.
She did talk about that invitro studies of Ivermectin showed promising results but that a few invivo studies showed no effect at all. However, that was the extent of her ‘analysis’.
Yet surprisingly (not), she had nothing to say about Tess Lawrie’s meta analysis of hundreds of studies on Ivermectin.
Seems rather that it is YOU that is peddling nonsense. So get scrolling and come up with something better than a “skeptichick” LOL!
Interestingly enough Tess Lawrie did address the alleged faulty Egyptian study. She removed the study from the meta-analysis. The result was the overall effectiveness in reduction of death went from a 62% reduction to a 49% reduction in death; meaning the result minus the Egyptian study were still outstanding albeit not as outstanding as originally believed.
Furthermore, when looking at the results for prophylactic effect, the results actually increased the effectiveness of Ivermectin since the Egyptian study actually showed mediocre prophylactic efficacy.
So regardless whether the Egyptian study is fatally flawed or not, it does nothing to change the effectiveness of Ivermectin as an highly effective prophylactic or early treatment therapy.
That’s the beauty of big-data. Weighted averages of many different parameters produce highly accurate results. I know this well as one of our branded customers use it to analyze the cost sheets of their hundreds of suppliers and even if some suppliers inflate different costs, the algorithm filters these out and the customer is still able to gauge your ‘real’ costs quite accurately; more data, more accuracy.
Soooo….you can run but you can’t hide from Ivermectin.
Err, what makes you think that the Elgazzar study is the only flawed one? Although “alleged faulty” is a nice touch – I enjoyed that. They need to remove the Niaee study too. Did you check out the baseline characteristics in that (six arm!) study? Those are the only two studies that hit significance for mortality. Oops.
That’s right! Once you remove Elgazzar you are left with Chahla and with Shouman, which both show absolutely kick-ass 6- to 7- fold prophylactic effects! Of course, those two studies were open label, so there’s that…
Naah. All of the studies that show a significant effect are hopelessly flawed.
Cool story bro. Does not work if there is systematic error in your data (Niaee), or manufactured data (Elgazzar).
Garbage in, garbage out, I’m sorry to say.
You do you, kiddo. As I offered previously:
Had to go look up “File Drawer Effect”. Interesting. Had not heard of that one before. Thanks!
The real-world situation is even more complicated, because for many if not most findings, the results just so happen to be those preferred by whoever funds the study. When the results aren’t popular with the funding source, they are also filed away. For a few years, I was a researcher on some studies I thought were interesting, but lost interest when even the funding source didn’t really care what the results were, they only wanted to take credit for funding a study.
Stephen Jay Gould coined a phrase “statis is data” because when (mostly paleontological) studies found a life form didn’t change for millions of years, those studies were “filed” in the category of “evolution didn’t happen, negative results”. Which is one important reason why the actual process of evolution (fairly rapid, fairly local branching events embedded in a sea of stasis) took so long to be recognized.
A short while back, I combed the net to try to determine the risk of fomite transmission (getting infected solely by touching contaminated surfaces). And after reading dozens of studies, I learned a couple of things:
1) As far as anyone can find, fomite transmission simply does not happen; in the normal world. Sure, if an infected person sneezes on a tissue and you immediately stick it up your nose, you can get sick. But worldwide, there is not one single verified case of anyone contracting covid from a surface.
2) Early on, the CDC did a study of active virus particles on surfaces, and tested those surfaces at regular intervals to determine the maximum time any active virus can be detected, and the half life of particles under CDC conditions. Of course, they started with higher concentrations than you’ll find anywhere outside the lab, they kept their surfaces under ideal conditions for the virus (also not found outside the lab), and their key parameter was detection, not danger. Even so, on most surfaces the half life down to where no more danger was present was a couple hours at most.
3) The CDC carefully didn’t emphasize starting concentrations, ambient conditions, or half life. So the public was left with the impression that these surfaces remain deadly so long as a single infectious particle remains. The result was (and still is) common performances of hygiene theater, where theaters and taxis and many other businesses ostentatiously spray and wipe perfectly safe surfaces to reassure customers, also reinforcing customers’ convictions that those surfaces would otherwise be highly infectious!
(It might be worth noting that ethical considerations prevent a direct test of fomite transmission — by handing a bunch of sequestered healthy people contaminated objects and see how many of them die.)
So when it comes to disinfection, solvents are no better than ivermectin or having a priest bless the place. But there are people who swear by all of these methods.
uh huh. Admit it. Your skeptichick link was bogus. Own it!
uh huh. Sure they are. Everything Ivermectin is bogus, huh?! ROTFL! that wont help you get the egg off your face!
Oooh, you had to dig deep into your rhetorical bag of tricks to come up ‘kiddo’ didnt you? Is that some sorta Harry Potter magic pointer that vaporizes the opposition?
As I offered previously, you are FoS. 😛
This sounds remarkably like Mark Finchem’s response to even the flagrantly partisan vote recount in Arizona. “You people hung up on facts are idiots, and I KNOW better!”
And so we are treated to another example of “None so blind as those who WILL not see”.
We are getting awfully close to Poe’s Law here.
Who are the blood guilty?
Well, I’m back from obsessing about the war, and stasis still rules.
Did anyone mention the case fatality rates in Australia and New Zealand? Or compare them to countries that surged before vaccines?
Are Australia and New Zealand involved in the war?
Wait, that’s it? Poe’s Law? You couldn’t muster a defense of DNA-Jock posting a skeptichick link supposedly dismantling Tess Lawrie’s meta-analysis of Ivermectin?
So then… the file drawer effect is the final, final stake you (pl) drive into the heart of Lawrie’s findings. Are you sure about that?
What would motivate scientists studying Ivermectin in several countries around the world to hold back data? For what gain? Financial gain couldn’t be one of them. Ivermectin is a clean deed, done dirt cheap. no money to be made.
More likely, your(pl) politics is getting the better of your(pl) science.
Does the CDC acknowledge the PCR test does not (effectively) differentiate between the “novel” Covid-19 and seasonal influenzas?
I hope you know that about 2 weeks ago a large convoy of arms/weapons was transferred to Russia from EU (Germany) via Poland despite the so-called official embargo against Russia???
NATO, US and UK do love Ukrainian people… as long as they continue to comply with their agenda… $
The articles I read about this said, future arms contracts between the EU and Russia are stopped, but existing contracts are still honored until they expire. The major items still to be delivered to Russia are two large French warships.
Aw, that’s cute. There are 219 authorized PCR tests; they all detect CoVid accurately. Not clear what you mean by “does not (effectively) differentiate”… if you mean that most of the tests will not tell you if you have influenza, then that is true. They’ll tell you whether you have COVID or not, irrespective of whether influenza is also present.
Some of the PCR diagnostics (BioFire’s RP2.1 comes to mind) will IN ADDITION tell you whether you have influenza or not.
I guess you read somewhere that the clinical presentations of flu and most COVID patients are almost impossible to distinguish, and somehow leapt to the non-sequitur that IVD’s weren’t capable of telling them apart. Given how these diagnostics work, and how they are developed and validated, that’s hilarious.
Anyone else wondering how things will turn out for North Korea where nobody has received COVID vaccination?
Fortunately, the entire population is in quarantine.
I’m afraid I’m overloaded at the moment with conspiracy theories. I blame aliens. They’re respectable again, you know.
As for covid, in the last six months I’ve gone from not knowing anyone who had it to not knowing anyone who hasn’t.
Get a life! Is it too much to ask about the real world?
BTW: How many people do you know tested positive for the flu within the last 2 years?
I would like to take a guess: ZERO or next to it?
What’s changed since covid?
You need to go back to school, buddy.. You should know some genetics by now… Shouldn’t you??? You design enzymes with 10% probability .. that’ s; pretty good… statistically…
BTW: Can you reverse the signs of aging? I can…
Hey Petrushka! Long time no! Saw you responding and thought I’d give a quick hello. Hope all is well!
Oh…and for the record, amazingly, I’ve not yet gotten SARS-Cov-2. Counting the minutes though…
…and yeah…apologies…I’m sure J-Mac will pick up on this and run with it. Meh…he’s not doing well with his actual arguments. I don’t see my admission as a “win” for his position. Just sayin’…