BREAKING NEWS while vaccines fail against variants Delta and OMICRON; NATURAL immunity (COVID-recovered) is holding STRONG! OMICRON presents an immune re-challenge, not breaching of natural IMMUNITY
by Paul Alexander
12 studies below keep us contemporary with the science, show us that the pandemic is over, OMICRON is a mild cold, and the vaccines continue to fail disastrously; we are creating super spreaders!
Good news is that natural immunity appears to be holding for OMICRON as an immune rechallenge and bad news is the vaccines have failed miserably
Paul Elias Alexander, PhD
OMICRON and an immune rechallenge. What do we know?
These studies now briefly presented are worth mentioning as it keeps us contemporary with the science, and they give us as clear a path forward in the era of OMICRON that really is the off-ramp to exit this pandemic (see It is time to end the pandemic state of emergency: Omicron tells us that the pandemic is near over and fast moving to endemicity). The hope is that the governments and public health officials are as contemporary with the science as we are (you all and I); so far they have shown themselves to be not in step with the data and science, and to be highly illogical, inept, irrational, hysterical, nonsensical, corrupted, absurd, and just flat wrong on everything COVID. A depth of academic sloppiness and laziness that is staggering in that they refuse to abreast themselves with the updated science. A level of cognitive dissonance that is breath taking. So needless to say I am very very worried!
What is the update? What does the evidence show as to OMICRON? Well, we have good and bad news that swirl around catastrophic failures of the vaccines and potency of natural immunity. These several studies show us where we stand now:
1) Buchan et al. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.30.21268565v1:
Researchers used a test-negative design to assess vaccine effectiveness against OMICRON or DELTA variants (regardless of symptoms or severity) during November 22 and December 19, 2021. They included persons who had received at least 2 COVID-19 vaccine doses (with at least 1 mRNA vaccine dose for the primary series) and applied multivariable logistic regression modelling analysis to “estimate the effectiveness of two or three doses by time since the latest dose.” They included 3,442 Omicron-positive cases, 9,201 Delta-positive cases, and 471,545 test-negative controls. Following 2 doses, “vaccine effectiveness against Delta infection declined steadily over time but recovered to 93% (95%CI, 92-94%) ≥7 days after receiving an mRNA vaccine for the third dose. In contrast, receipt of 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines was not protective against Omicron. Vaccine effectiveness against Omicron was 37% (95%CI, 19-50%) ≥7 days after receiving an mRNA vaccine for the third dose.”
What does this mean? It means that 2 doses does not confer protection against OMICRON, and is rather low even after receipt of the third booster dose (37% (95%CI, 19-50%) ≥7 days after receiving an mRNA vaccine for the third dose). This was significantly less than what was seen for Delta that is being displaced. This is a catastrophic mess, a hot mess for the vaccine developers, CDC, and NIH.
2) Altarawneh et al. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.05.2226878:
Researchers built on the clear evidence that natural SARS-CoV-2 infection (natural immunity) confers strong protection against reinfection with the Alpha (B.1.1.7), Beta (B.1.351), and Delta (B.1.617.2) variants. Given the over 30 spike mutations for OMICRON with at least 15 on the receptor-binding domain (RBD), and thus the elevated risk of viral immune escape, they sough to assess (test-negative case-control design) effectiveness of prior infection (PES) in preventing reinfection with OMICRON (as well as other SARS-CoV-2 variants in Qatar).
What did they find? Well, they found that PES against symptomatic reinfection was estimated at “90.2% (95% CI: 60.2-97.6) for Alpha, 84.8% (95% CI: 74.5-91.0) for Beta, 92.0% (95% CI: 87.9-94.7) for Delta, and 56.0% (95% CI: 50.6-60.9) for Omicron.” They also found that just 1 Alpha, 2 Beta, 0 Delta, and 2 Omicron reinfections moved on to severe COVID-19. The fantastic news was that not one progressed to severe/critical or fatal COVID-19. “PES against hospitalization or death due to reinfection was estimated at 69.4% (95% CI: −143.6-96.2) for Alpha, 88.0% (95% CI: 50.7-97.1) for Beta, 100% (95% CI: 43.3-99.8) for Delta, and 87.8% (95% CI: 47.5-97.1) for Omicron.” In terms of natural immunity holding against OMICRON, all this to say that protection conferred by prior infection in preventing symptomatic reinfection with Alpha, Beta, or Delta was found to be very robust and roughly at around 90%. The reinfection with OMICRON was lower but researchers (and I) conclude it is still very robust and formidable at roughly 60%. Good news for natural immunity and it is clear that along with infectiousness, OMICRON is presenting what some immunologists characterize as an ‘immune rechallenge”. Protection conferred against hospitalization or death at reinfection appears to be quite robust, again, fabulous news! An optimal research design should include groups who are COVID-recovered versus those with vaccinal immunity to assess the risk of reinfection across the various variants.
3) Hladish et al. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.01.06.22268849v1
What did Hladish find? They reported on a simulation model used to assess and project the COVID-19 epidemic in Florida. Researchers found that “the omicron variant wave in Florida is likely to cause many more infections than occurred during the delta variant wave” and with a fair amount of under-reporting relative to Delta. They estimate an OMICRON peak in early January 2022 and that the “number of reported COVID-19 deaths due to omicron may be 1/3 of the total caused by the delta wave.” This is welcomed news.
4) Keeton et al. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.12.26.21268380v1
These researchers assessed the ability of T cells to react with OMICRON spike in the participants who were vaccinated with Ad26.CoV2.S or BNT162b2, and in unvaccinated convalescent COVID-19 patients (n = 70). Researchers found that “70-80% of the CD4 and CD8 T cell response to spike was maintained across study groups. Moreover, the magnitude of OMICRON cross-reactive T cells was similar to that of the Beta and Delta variants, despite OMICRON harboring considerably more mutations. Additionally, in OMICRON-infected hospitalized patients (n = 19), there were comparable T cell responses to ancestral spike, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins to those found in patients hospitalized in previous waves dominated by the ancestral, Beta or Delta variants (n = 49). These results demonstrate that despite Omicron’s extensive mutations and reduced susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies, the majority of T cell response, induced by vaccination or natural infection, cross-recognizes the variant.” They concluded that well-preserved T cell immunity to OMICRON is likely to contribute to protection from severe COVID-19, and this is great news for natural immunity and it holding.
5) Dowell et al. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34937928/
These researchers compared antibody and cellular immunity in children (aged 3-11 years) and adults. They found that antibody responses against spike protein “were high in children and seroconversion boosted responses against seasonal Beta-coronaviruses through cross-recognition of the S2 domain. Neutralization of viral variants was comparable between children and adults. Spike-specific T cell responses were more than twice as high in children and were also detected in many seronegative children, indicating pre-existing cross-reactive responses to seasonal coronaviruses. Importantly, children retained antibody and cellular responses 6 months after infection, whereas relative waning occurred in adults. Spike-specific responses were also broadly stable beyond 12 months. Therefore, children generate robust, cross-reactive and sustained immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 with focused specificity for the spike protein. These findings provide insight into the relative clinical protection that occurs in most children and might help to guide the design of pediatric vaccination regimens.”
6) Severity of SARS-CoV-2 Reinfections as Compared with Primary Infections, Abu-Raddad, 2021
Abu-Raddad et al. has recently published on the severity of SARS-CoV-2 reinfections as compared with primary infections. They reported that in earlier studies, they assessed the efficacy of previous natural infection “as protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 as being 85% or greater. Accordingly, for a person who has already had a primary infection, the risk of having a severe reinfection is only approximately 1% of the risk of a previously uninfected person having a severe primary infection…Reinfections had 90% lower odds of resulting in hospitalization or death than primary infections. Four reinfections were severe enough to lead to acute care hospitalization. None led to hospitalization in an ICU, and none ended in death. Reinfections were rare and were generally mild, perhaps because of the primed immune system after primary infection.”
7) Wilhelm et al. reported on reduced neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant by vaccine sera and monoclonal antibodies. “in vitro findings using authentic SARS-CoV-2 variants indicate that in contrast to the currently circulating Delta variant, the neutralization efficacy of vaccine-elicited sera against Omicron was severely reduced highlighting T-cell mediated immunity as essential barrier to prevent severe COVID-19.”
8) CDC reported on the details for 43 cases of COVID-19 attributed to the Omicron variant. They found that “34 (79%) occurred in persons who completed the primary series of an FDA-authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine ≥14 days before symptom onset or receipt of a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result.”
9) Dejnirattisai et al. presented live neutralization titres against SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant, and examined it relative to neutralization against the Victoria, Beta and Delta variants. They reported a significant drop in “neutralization titres in recipients of both AZD1222 and BNT16b2 primary courses, with evidence of some recipients failing to neutralize at all.”
10) Cele et al. assessed whether Omicron variant escapes antibody neutralization “elicited by the Pfizer BNT162b2 mRNA vaccine in people who were vaccinated only or vaccinated and previously infected.” They reported that Omicron variant “still required the ACE2 receptor to infect but had extensive escape of Pfizer elicited neutralization.”
11) Holm Hansen et al.’s Denmark study looked at vaccine effectiveness against SARS-CoV-2 infection with the Omicron or Delta variants following a two-dose or booster BNT162b2 or mRNA-1273 vaccination series. A key finding was reported as “VE against Omicron was 55.2% initially following primary BNT162b2 vaccination, but waned quickly thereafter. Although estimated with less precision, VE against Omicron after primary mRNA-1273 vaccination similarly indicated a rapid decline in protection. By comparison, both vaccines showed higher, longer-lasting protection against Delta.”
In other words, the vaccine that has failed against Delta is even far worse for Omicron. The table and figure below paint a devastating picture. See where the green dot is (Omicron variant) in the vertical lines (blue is Delta) and the 2 edges of the bars (upper and lower lips) 91 days out for Omicron (3 months). Both Pfizer and Moderna show negative efficacy for Omicron at 31 days (both are below the ‘line of no effect’ or ‘0’). The comparative table is even more devastating for it shows how much less vaccine effectiveness there is for Omicron. For example, at 1-30 days, Pfizer showed 55.2% effectiveness for Omicron versus 86.7% for Delta, and for the same period, Moderna showed 36.7% effectiveness for Omicron versus 88.2% for Delta.
12) UK reporting showed that boosters protect against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by Omicron for about 10 weeks; the UK Health Security Agency reported protection against symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the variant dropped from 70% to 45% following a Pfizer booster for those initially vaccinated with the shot developed by Pfizer with BioNTech. Specifically reporting by the UK Health Security Agency showed “Among those who received an AstraZeneca primary course, vaccine effectiveness was around 60% 2 to 4 weeks after either a Pfizer or Moderna booster, then dropped to 35% with a Pfizer booster and 45% with a Moderna booster by 10 weeks after the booster. Among those who received a Pfizer primary course, vaccine effectiveness was around 70% after a Pfizer booster, dropping to 45% after 10-plus weeks and stayed around 70 to 75% after a Moderna booster up to 9 weeks after booster.”