A Claim of Herd Immunity Reignites Debate Over U.K. Covid Policy

”’ ….Previous projections about herd immunity have proven wrong, Professor Spector said, and the assumptions about the preconditions for it keep getting revised. In 2020, scientists said a country could achieve herd immunity if roughly 60 percent of its population were immune. More recently, scientists have revised the estimate to 85 percent, or higher — and some argue that in the United States, at least, it may never be reached…..“We act like Europe is so much worse, but we’ve just accepted a high death toll and higher infection rates for longer,…”  


”…As the coronavirus replicates inside people, new mutations constantly arise. Most provide the virus with no new advantage. When worrisome mutations do emerge, the World Health Organization uses Greek letters to name the variants. The first “variant of concern,” Alpha, appeared in Britain in late 2020, soon followed by Beta in South Africa….Omicron first came to light in Botswana, where researchers at the Botswana Harvard H.I.V. Reference Laboratory in Gaborone sequenced the genes of coronaviruses from positive test samples. They found some samples sharing about 50 mutations not found in such a combination before. So far, six people have tested positive for Omicron in Botswana, according to an international database of variants…(Some earlier variants, such as Beta and Mu, had evolved a strong ability to evade immune defenses. But they never became a serious threat to the world because they proved to be poor at transmitting)…The researchers found more than 30 mutations on a protein, called spike, on the surface of the coronavirus. The spike protein is the chief target of antibodies that the immune system produces to fight a Covid-19 infection. So many mutations raised concerns that Omicron’s spike might be able to evade antibodies produced by either a previous infection or a vaccine….It turned out that spike-negative samples were surging across South Africa, suggesting that Omicron had a competitive advantage over Delta, which until now had been the dominant variant in the country….Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist at Rockefeller University in New York, said that Omicron’s distinctive mutations raise the possibility that it first evolved inside the body of someone with H.I.V., whose immune systems may have been too weak to quickly fight it off. “Your responses are just not as good….Instead of getting cleared away in a matter of days, the virus may have lingered in that person for months, spending the time gaining the ability to evade antibodies. “This virus has seen a lot of antibodies,” Dr. Hatziioannou said….Still, vaccines are expected to provide some protection against Omicron because they stimulate not only antibodies but immune cells that can attack infected cells, Dr. Hatziioannou said. Mutations to the spike protein do not blunt that immune-cell response….And booster shots could potentially broaden the range of antibodies people make, enabling them to fight against new variants like Omicron. “We will see, because these studies are only now ongoing,…Even if Omicron does prove more transmissible than other variants,…vaccines would most likely remain vital weapons against it, both by slowing down its spread and making it more likely that people who do get sick only have mild Covid-19 instead of needing to go to the hospital.

(J. Harris: Medical Magazine and websites will lag behind good newspapers and NPR with new Covid information. TV can be helpful but not complete enough. For $1.00 per week for the first year, you can subscribe to the New York Times digital editions. The Washington Post, DMN, LA, and Houston papers are not as good for COVID NEWS in my opinion. You never have to look at editorial unless you wish. NPR is free with contributions optional and is excellent but not as complete as the NYT which is, in my opinion, the absolute very best current source for  Covid information) .

Merck says its antiviral pill is less effective in a final analysis. BY REBECCA ROBBINS

”….The pharmaceutical company Merck said on Friday that in a final analysis of a clinical trial, its antiviral pill [molnupiravir]reduced the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk Covid patients by 30 percent, down from an earlier estimate of 50 percent….“The reduction in hospitalization is a little bit less, but there is still a big mortality benefit if you start early


Monoclonal antibody drugs, which are typically administered intravenously in the United States, have been found to reduce hospitalizations and deaths by at least 70 percent. Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, which was found in a clinical trial to cut the risk of hospitalization and death by 89 percent, could become available within weeks. Fluvoxamine, a common and inexpensive antidepressant, appears to be about as effective as molnupiravir.

FIND VACCINE PROVIDERS: http://www.vaccines.gov75670      (or your zip code)


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