Thursday, 25 February 2021

Not sure why this is anybody else's problem.

From the BBC:

Local MP Liam Byrne spoke about the problem in the House of Commons this week. It is, he told MPs, "a story of two nations - rich and poor".

This is not unique to Birmingham. It is a pattern that is being repeated across the country. The people who are most at risk from the virus are the ones, it seems, who are least likely to come forward for vaccination.

Detailed data on uptake down to a community level is not being published by the government to the frustration of many - the figures for Birmingham were published by the council. But what information is available suggests the poorest and most ethnically diverse communities (there is a huge overlap between the two) are seeing the lowest levels of uptake.

The vaccines seem to be working - hooray
Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, the UK govermnent and the NHS between them are handling it all well - hooray
The vaccines are 'free' and well advertised - hooray
They are not compulsory - hooray
The corollary of 'not compulsory' is that some people, for whatever reasons, will refuse to have it. Fair enough. That's the price of freedom.


decnine said...

It's a problem because White Supremacy. And the BBC thinks you ought to be feeling Guilty. You don't need to know the details.

mombers said...

It's a problem because it will make things worse amongst these already disadvantaged communities. And hence make us all poorer. That said, I am against compulsory vaccination - it will just fuel the fire of the anti-vax movement. It should be compulsory for international travel and possibly for some jobs applicants (not grounds for dismissal for existing staff though). We fired our dentist after he started spouting anti-vax nonsense. A friend's son almost died of measles when he was 6 months old because someone didn't get vaccinated but still thought it was fair to mingle with people who didn't want to get measles (MMR is at 12 months only)

I managed to get a vaccine invite despite being in my early 40s and no serious underlying conditions. Pleased to say no side effects, but was hoping to pick up some Swedish (I got the Astrazeneca one)

Mark Wadsworth said...

D, I suspect so.

M, AZ is Anglo Swedish. Which one were you hoping for?

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, I agree that it is a shame that some people refuse to take it. But what if it were only Jehovah's Witlesses, or West Ham supporters or keen pot-holers who refused to take it. Would the BBC give a stuff? I know that I wouldn't.

Bayard said...

"It should be compulsory for international travel and possibly for some jobs applicants (not grounds for dismissal for existing staff though)."

What about if you had the disease as a child, but have no paperwork to prove it. Would you propose such people are pointlessly vaccinated?

mombers said...

@bayard what do you mean by pointlessly vaccinated? I almost certainly had covid in April but there's no evidence that you can't get it again. Entering another country is not a right, I'm all for retaining freedom domestically, subject to not impinging on others' freedom.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, I would, to be honest.

Mark Wadsworth said...

... I have also almost certainly had it, but will line up for my jab.

Bayard said...

"I almost certainly had covid in April but there's no evidence that you can't get it again."

If you can "get it again", what's the point of being vaccinated? If having the disease itself doesn't make you immune, having a mild form of it (vaccination) isn't going to. Vaccination isn't some magic juju that makes you immune, it's a way of making your body make the necessary antibodies it would make if you had had the disease and recovered from it without you actually suffering from the disease.

Anyway, I wasn't talking about COVID, which is a coronavirus. Coronaviruses, like the common cold, tend to mutate swiftly. That doesn't apply to all other infectious diseases, like measles for instance, or mumps. Would you have everyone who has had these diseases, but it is not on their medical records line up for a pointless vaccination?

Nessimmersion said...

As explained by a Microbiologist:

The doublethink in this case is off the scale. The vaccines have been clearly stated to not be ‘real’ vaccines. They don’t stop you catching it and they don’t stop you spreading it. All they claim to do is reduce the symptoms. Well, that’s not a bad thing in itself. The rabies vaccine claimed much the same – it won’t stop you getting rabies but it will give you time to get to a hospital for treatment.

So, the vaccine will not stop you spreading it, therefore the vaccinated pose just as much risk of spread as the unvaccinated. The difference is that the vaccinated might be spreading the virus without getting sick themselves. And yet we are to believe that the unvaccinated pose a risk to the vaccinated. This is the polar opposite to any form of biology, immunology, logic or reason – and people believe it.

Somehow, even though the vaccinated can still spread the virus, giving them a ‘vaccine passport’ makes them magically safe to be around. Twitter is full of propaganda on this.

‘Wouldn’t you feel safer if the person next to you in the theatre / your Uber driver was vaccinated?’ Well, do I have to ask them if they’ve had vaccinations against polio or tuberculosis or tetanus or measles or mumps or a host of other diseases that are far worse than Covid? No? So why this one? Also, if they’re vaccinated, they might have mild or no symptoms, suppressed by their vaccine, but still be exhaling live virus. So logically you should feel safer if they didn’t have this dodgy vaccine.

mombers said...

@MW maybe you can get the scientists that you trust on this matter to take a look at your concerns about climate science?

@others not too surprised but saddened that vaccine scepticism is coming up on this blog

Mark Wadsworth said...

N, proper large scale retrospective monitoring of vaccinees in Scotland and Israel show that the risk of catching it (and passing it on) is reduced by about 75%. Not brilliant but good enough. As you say, the ones who still get infected get milder cases, hospitalisations and deaths are reduced by 95% overall. It's all good.

M, there are pseudo scientists who make stuff up, I don't trust them at all because they are not even scientists, and there are real scientists, whom I trust, by and large.

Lola said...

Being an old git and 'vulnerable' I am 'offered' the 'flu jab each year. I take up the offer, having had 'flu a couple of times, and it really isn't at all funny. So that jab protects ME from 'flu. But I guess that once youi have got flu it is as transmissable as covid. And I don't have to have a 'flu passport'.

Surely in a free society the same rule should apply to the covid jab. I would be offered it and if I declined, fair enough. It's my choice. So - in a free society - why should I be required to have a covid passport?

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, if other countries say they won't let you in without a Covid passport, well, their country, their rules. Similarly, the NHS could reasonably demand that all its staff get the jab as well.

If I want to be an arse, I could bar people from entering my house without a Covid passport (but I wouldn't of course, not being an arse).

mombers said...

Domestic covid passports are a non starter - freedom does indeed involve accommodations for stoopid. But it's not a right to be able to enter a country, so we'd do well to require a vaccination to come here. See the description of variants - 'South African', 'Brazilian', etc. Liberties for vaccine sceptics can be retained for residents of a country who are returning - quarantine for 10 days as is now at own expense to protect others. New variants could still enter via infection of the vaccinated on planes but it's a trade off.

I certainly am evaluating my friendships based on vaccination policies. Before my kids had their MMRs I avoided some selfish families who hadn't vaccinated. A good friend of mine struggled with fertility for ages because he got gifted measles by someone not being honest.

Lola said...

MW. Exactly and of course. When in Rome...
But the conversation has been about having official and mandatory covid passports for pubs and restaurants etc.
But, as you say, that 'should' be the sole privilege of the individual publican and restauranteur

Bayard said...

M, (either of you), please could you explain to me how this vaccine makes it less likely that you will catch the disease than actually having the disease itself as a basis of your belief that you are not wasting the NHS's time and money by having the vaccine when you've already had the disease.

"@others not too surprised but saddened that vaccine scepticism is coming up on this blog"

If you will make claims that a vaccine is more effective at stopping you catching a disease than having the disease itself, what do you expect?

mombers said...

@B I'm not sure what you mean. Should we aim for mass infection to get herd immunity a la chickenpox? Or add bureaucracy to the vaccine program by saying those who have had it (a confirmed positive test) don't get a vaccine? A LOT of science has been applied to this and I despair at the prospect of this pandemic lasting longer because people are reading nonsense and making conclusions not based on science.
I would point out that every single person who had Edward Jenner's vaccine in 1796 has died

Dr Evil said...

It is a CORONA virus. These provoke only a transient antibody titre. It's the TC3 cells you really need. Corona viruses normally cause colds but now we have SARS-1 and SARS-2. We will end up having annual vaccinations just before the 'flu months and the covid months. Keep the vaccine makers going for ever.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, yes, on private premises, it's up to the owner/operator.

B, "wasting the NHS's time and money by having the vaccine when you've already had the disease"

Official guidance is to take the vaccine when it's offered to you, even if you've had Covid.

DrE, and people who survived SARS-1 are still immune nearly 20 years later. We shall see what happens this time, nobody knows.

Bayard said...

"making conclusions not based on science."

Does that include questioning whether a vaccine can prevent you from being reinfected when actually having the disease doesn't? I think that question is based on fairly basic biology.

"Official guidance is to take the vaccine when it's offered to you, even if you've had Covid."

Fair enough, it saves a hell of a lot of bureaucracy and head scratching in borderline cases. Luckily, you can turn it down if you think you don't need it, although not if the vaxxers have their way and there is a lot of official insistence on "passports". However, I sense that the vaxxers have got the bit between their teeth now and will be pressing for "passports" for other infectious diseases. Think of the cheeeldren!

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, try watching Dr John Campbell on YouTube, he tends to be pro-lockdown, pro-vacc etc (so discount for that), but he tries to be straight with all the numbers and stat's he reviews.

But he's pro-Vit D. And inadvertently hilariously funny... "My mother, who is even older than I am, has had the vaccine" and suchlike.

George Carty said...

Bayard @ 26 February 2021, 08:38,

The main reason why have little immunity to the "common cold" is that it's actually a set of symptoms which can be caused by over 100 different virus types: while 4 of those are coronaviruses, the most common causes of colds are rhinoviruses.

As for mutations -- coronaviruses are actually relatively slow mutators (by virus standards: they still mutate fast compared to cellular life). Flu mutates about twice as fast while measles mutates about a dozen times as fast.

The raw speed of mutation isn't actually the most important issue though. While measles is a fast-mutating virus (and also hellaciously infectious: R0 is about 1.8 for flu or about 3.6 for Covid-19, but more like 15 for measles) immunity is life-long, because our immune systems are programmed (by infection or vaccination) to look at a part of the virus's protein coat that is essential to its functioning. Any mutation will either have no effect on immunity, or will immediately render the virus non-functional.

Influenza A is the opposite extreme, not only can its protein coats change extensively without significantly affecting the virus's functioning, but it has two proteins (H and N) which it can mix and match: this is where terms like "H1N1", "H5N1" and "H3N2" come from. Virologists currently know of 18 Hs and 13 Ns.

If (for example) a new N14 evolved due to a mutation in an H1N1 virus (thus giving H1N14) then for most viruses that would be just one new strain, but for influenza A it could result in a whole swathe of new strains. If a pig already infected with H3N2 was then infected with H1N14, then H3N14 would appear in short order (and since we know of H5, H7, H9 and H10 also circulate among livestock, we'd get the H5N14, H714, H9N14 and H10N14 strains too). And while H1N14 may not be especially dangerous, perhaps H5N14 is very dangerous (and the interchangeable proteins mean that if any HxN14 appeared, H5N14 would appear in short order).

This ability by influenza A to evade immunity is the reason why there's a new flu vaccine every year, and is also why before 2020 epidemiologists were so focused on it as the most serious pandemic threat. Perhaps if the increased interest by politicians in vaccines gets us to a universal flu vaccine quicker, Covid-19 may end up saving more lives than it claims?

Mark Wadsworth said...

GC, thanks, that ties in with what Dr John C says.