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Has Covid vaccine efficacy turned negative?
Data from highly vaccinated countries suggests strongly that the answer is yes; vaccinated people are at higher risk of infection from Omicron.
Denmark has fewer than 6 million people - 1/60th as many as the United States.
Nearly its all adults are vaccinated, mostly with the Pfizer mRNA vaccine that is the world’s supposed gold standard. Half have received third “booster” doses.
On Wednesday Denmark reported 28,000 Covid infections - equal to about 1.7 million in the United States.
The figures are similar in the United Kingdom, and all over Western Europe. Many countries are at 90 percent adult Covid vaccination levels, with boosters soaring. And they are all now in the midst of an epidemic of Covid contagion that dwarfs any that has come before.
The vaccines sure seem to have failed.
That’s wrong, though.
The reality is worse.
The data from several countries now show clearly that infection rates are higher in vaccinated people.
Iceland has a 91 percent vaccination rate (and an over 50 percent booster rate) in its population over 12. This is its chart of cases per-capita by vaccination status. Not absolute, per-capita. Dark blue is fully vaccinated, light blue is unvaccinated, black is boosted.
Look at what has happened to the dark blue line since Dec. 21, since Omicron became dominant.
We already know vaccine protection against earlier variants of Sars-Cov-2 falls sharply within months of the second dose, as the vaccine-generated antibodies fade.
But the new data go a step further, showing that previously vaccinated people are actually more likely to contract Omicron.
The government of Ontario has reported exactly the same pattern. So have Danish researchers, in a paper two weeks ago, when they found protection against Omicron turned negative three months after the second dose.
The vaccine fanatics have said that boosters are the answer against Omicron, that people who receive a third dose will regain protection.
This is - at best - a highly optimistic view.
Remember the happy vaccine valley?
During the 2021 mass vaccination campaigns, Covid infections (whether Delta or the original strain) fell close to zero in the four months after the second dose, as antibodies peaked.
The happy vaccine valley no longer exists. Boosters begin to fail essentially immediately against Omicron, despite the massive (and potentially dangerous) increase in anti-spike-protein antibodies they produce.
Here’s the most recent report on vaccine protection from the United Kingdom, from last week.
The black boxes represent protection against the Delta variant (which is overstated because of the healthy vaccine user bias, but put that fact aside). As you can see, peak protection against Delta starts around 90 percent two weeks after the second dose. It remains at 60 percent six months out. A third dose pushes it back to 90 percent, and it barely budges for the first 10 weeks.
But what’s true for Delta is NOT true for Omicron.
Even at their absolute peak, two doses of mRNA vaccines offer only 60 percent protection against Omicron. Within four months protection has fallen almost to zero. A booster returns protection to 70 percent, but two months later it has fallen to about 50 percent.
That’s a decline to 50 percent protection from Omicron (at most, because the unseen confounders will tend to overstate vaccine efficacy) within 10 weeks of a third dose. We have every reason to expect it too will plunge to zero within a few more weeks.
What then? A fourth dose? A fifth a few weeks after that? How much mRNA do the public health authorities intend to cram in us?
And what about the real terror, antibody-dependent enhancement?
Are the vaccines only driving infection with Omicron, or are they increasing the risk of serious illness too?
We don’t really know yet, in part because Omicron is milder across the board. In addition, the wave of cases has hit so fast that it will take time for serious illness to catch up. Finally, the problem of incidental hospitalizations (with, not from Covid) is worse and will further muddy the data.
That said, hospitalizations of vaccinated people with Omicron are rising very fast, and the gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated people is shrinking. The Danish government reported on Jan. 3 that only 24 percent of the people hospitalized with Omicron during late November and December were unvaccinated - while 76 percent were vaccinated, including 18 percent who were boosted. During the same period, unvaccinated people made up 45 percent of those hospitalized with earlier variants - yet more proof the vaccines simply do not work as well against Omicron as earlier variants.
(By the way, I have to rely on data from other countries because the United States figures are untrustworthy; American hospitals are in the habit of reporting every Covid patient for whom they do not have complete two- or three-dose data as unvaccinated.)
Why are we encouraging people to get “vaccinated” or “boosted” with a “vaccine” that within a few weeks probably increases their risk of becoming infected with the newly dominant variant of Sars-Cov-2?
We were lucky with Omicron; it is apparently quite mild.
But we are now in a world where Sars-Cov-2 cannot be contained and where it will continue to mutate in both humans and animals in ways we cannot predict (some scientists believe that Omicron underwent most of its mutations in mice before before jumping back to humans).
Nor do we yet know whether and how vaccines will interfere with the development of immunity after Sars-Cov-2 infection and recovery; will they prevent our immune systems from developing antibodies to other parts of the coronavirus, or interfere with B- and T-cell maturation?
All we really know is that the vaccines don’t prevent infection for very long and for many healthy people have side effects that are significantly worse than coronavirus infection. Both those facts were true before Omicron. Both are doubly true now.
Yet the drive to vaccinate - and boost - continues.