Day 623 – Too late

On the day that the news broke that 2 Pfizer jabs had very limited effect on the Omicron variant, but that 3 seemed to be pretty good (see the lilac bars here):

… our local medicines body, SAHPRA authorised a 3rd jab 6 months after the second.

For anyone below the age of 50 (or who was below the age of 50 at the time of their first jab), that means waiting – with very limited protection – until March next year. But which time this fourth wave will be just one more unpleasant memory. For those who survive*.

As I’ve mentioned on here, the shouts of ‘vaccine apartheid’ ring hollow as far as SA is concerned, but the government isn’t doing a lot to correct this narrative. Why? Well, lest we forget, they were the ones who started ordering vaccine stocks too late:

and they are the ones who are comprehensively failing to get what they have got into people’s arms:

Now, About 80% of the population who are eligible to have a vaccine (have to wait until well into the new year to get the much-needed third shot. While we slow down our orders because we have so much in stock.

The advanced muppetry continues in the clown farm.


* Is it me? Am I the drama? I don’t think I’m the drama.

Day 618 – Infectiousness v Lethality

As we look at the latest figures from Gauteng, ground zero for SA’s Omicron-driven Fourth wave (again via @rid1tweets), we see this scary graph:

The hospital and death figures always lag a week or two behind, so really, all the we can say about Omicron at the moment is that it’s spreading like wildfire. Given that the conditions at the start of each of the three previous waves was pretty much the same, and that we should now have some protection from (some) previous infections and (a bit of) vaccination, we’d wouldn’t expect to see the black line rearing up like a pissed off Cape Cobra in the Overberg, rather it should be flatter, like a mole snake on the R27 West Coast Road.

It’s so steep because the virus is spreading very quickly, which suggests that it is very infectious. And that would fit with the (anecdotal) evidence I’m seeing in my friends and friends of friends in Cape Town. Every second person has suddenly got it: some not so bad, some bad, some vaccinated, some not (and some unknown), some previously infected, some not, some careful, most… you know. Mmm.

But it wasn’t here a week ago and now it’s everywhere.

Increased infectiousness = increased transmissibility.
And so the gradient of that black line is very bad news. Not least because of this:

Yep – a low percentage can still be a very big number if it’s a low percentage of a huge number.

Delta looked like a variant that you wanted to avoid because it has/had some nasty morbidity and mortality associated with it. Omicron looks like one to avoid because it has some really nasty transmissibility associated with it – and we don’t know about the morbidity or the mortality yet.

But either way, it’s not looking good.

Day 611 – Travel

Twitter: “But it’s ridiculous! People are tested before they can travel!”

And yet, at Schipol…

Link

South African Minister of Health: “Travel restrictions are unjustified”:

Also the South African Minister of Health: “We may restrict travel”:

Trump bans travel from parts of Africa this time last year. Joe Biden:

Image

Today, Joe Biden announces ban on travel from parts of Africa:

I know, I know. Cheap shots. Low hanging fruit etc etc.

Maybe it’s just people called Joe…

But also massive hypocrisy and many clear indications that – almost 2 years into this whole mess – we (and by we, I mean politicians) haven’t come up with any decent methods of dealing with it. It’s all a bit scary.

Look, the likelihood is that this variant will be all over the world already. Just because it was only detected now, doesn’t mean it wasn’t already widely circulating.

But yes, I do support the bans: for the moment, at least.
Anything which buys any healthcare system any extra time – and therefore information – has to be used when we are dealing with new, unknown variants.

And then the political aspect, whereby the government has to be seen to be doing something. When BJ didn’t close the flights from India back in May, he lost a lot of credibility (yes, yes, I know) regarding the way the government was dealing with Covid.

People used it as a tool to avoid following guidelines: “Why should I bother if Boris is just letting the virus in anyway?”. I’ve said countless times during this whole thing that being a President or Prime Minister is not a job I’d want during a pandemic. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. You are not going to please all of the people any of the time.

But then there’s an important caveat here: when the statistics, the information and the experts suggest that the limitations are not required, then they need to be lifted just as quickly as they were instituted. And that’s not an own goal; it’s not saying that they were wrong to put them into place in the first place: that’s acting on new information and data. Nothing wrong with that.
It must just happen as soon as some sort of all-clear is sounded, not 6 months down the line.