Biblical and Constitutional Politics

Fitness for One and All

Update on Covid Deaths:

Part Two

(Continuing Covid and Vaccine Lies by the Right)

 

By Gary F. Zeolla


 

This multi-part article is continued from Update on Covid Deaths: Part One (Refuting Covid Lies by the Right and Fearmongering by the Left)

 

 

No Red Wave and Covid Misinformation

 

      As documented in Part One, far more Republicans than Democrats died from Covid. That population shift is one possible reason the predicted “red wave” did not materialize in the 2022 midterm elections. It possibly made a difference in close races across the country.

      I predicted such in my article One Million Covid Deaths in the USA, published back on April 4, 2022. Therefore, I was correct when I said Republicans have shot themselves in the foot with their misinformation about Covid and the vaccines.

      Though Republicans did take control of the House, it was not by near as much as predicted. And if you look at the most competitive races they lost, some were lost by slim margins, by less than couple of thousand votes (NYT. U.S. House). In the Senate, the most competitive race was in Nevada, where the Republican lost by less than 7,000 (NYT. U.S. Senate). Those margins are small enough that this population shift could have been the difference.

      There are other possible reasons the predicted red wave did not materialize. I cover them in my article Wrath of God Coming Down on the USA and Commonwealth of PA. But here, contributing to that loss of the red wave is one real world result of ongoing Covid misinformation by Republicans. But it gets even worst.

 

Covid Versus the Flu

 

      Conservative commentator Lisa Boothe (filling in for Dan Bongino on Veteran’s Day 2022), made a startling claim. She said, “Democrats changed election laws, using Covid as a cover, a virus that is no more deadly than the flu.” The first part of her claim aside, the last part is demonstrably false. And this far into the pandemic, it is inexcusable for such wild claims to be made.

      I say that as at the start of the pandemic, I too thought Covid would prove to be no more dangerous than the flu. But I changed my tune as the death numbers began coming in, and Covid was clearly proving to be much more deadly than the flu. But for some reason, many conservatives were unable to let go of that talking point, despite the overwhelming data to the contrary.

      Specifically, in my article Trump vs. Biden on Covid, I documented that 400,000 Americans died from Covid during the year Trump dealt with Covid. Then 458,000 Americans died from Covid during the first year of Biden’s presidency, for an average of 429,00 deaths per year. Meanwhile, “CDC estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses, 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020” (CDC. Disease).

      The average of 12,000 and 52,000 is 32,000 deaths per year from the flu. That means, Covid, in its yearly average during its first two years, killed 13.4 times as many Americans as the flu on average kills each year.

      It is true fewer Americans are now dying from Covid. That is due to two reasons. First, the vast majority of Americans now have natural and/ or vaccine immunity. Second, the virus itself has mutated into a less lethal form, Omicron and its subvariants. But it still remains more deadly than the flu.

      I previously cited the statistic of 358 Covid deaths per day on average as of October 17, 2022. But it was 400 a few weeks prior to that time. As I review this section on November 21, 2022, “Death counts have fallen by 13 percent nationally in the past two weeks, to about 300 per day” (NYT. Coronavirus). But with the holidays coming, it will probably go back up to 400. With that background, it is safe to say it will hover between 300-400 for the foreseeable future. Taking the average of 350 deaths per day, that is 127,750 deaths per year, or four times the average yearly deaths from the flu.

      The fact that 127,750 Americans could die from Covid over the next year is why I am writing this article and even expanded it to three parts. Though Americans want to be done with Covid, Covid is just not done with us. But for some reason, conservatives just cannot accept that fact. I also wanted to counter such ongoing misinformation as Covid being no more deadly than the flu.

 

Elephant in the Room

 

      A Facebook and real-life friend posted a meme of an elephant. On the elephant were the words, “Where are all of the unvaccinated Covid deaths?” Let me answer that question.

      As just documented, there will be an estimated 127,750  deaths from Covid in the next year. I documented previously that 80-90% of Covid deaths are among the unvaccinated. Taking the average of 85%, that means of that 127,750 deaths, 108,587 will be unvaccinated. But I need to multiply that number again by 85%, as that is the effective rate of the vaccines against death.

      That brings us to 92,300 deaths that could be prevented if everyone was vaccinated against Covid, which is to say 92,300 unvaccinated Covid deaths. That is an elephant-sized number of needless deaths.

      Compare those 92,300 deaths to the following, “Last year [2021], more than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses — the highest tally in U.S. history” (AP. U.S. overdose). Republicans have declared that to be a crisis and blame Biden and his open border policy for it. But it is strange they do not consider the almost as great 92,300 Americans dying needlessly from Covid to be a crisis. That is probably because they would have to blame themselves and their Covid lies for those needless deaths.

      Note also, if previous trends hold, of those 92,300 needless deaths, about 60,000 will be Republicans, while just 30,000 will be Democrats. That ongoing population shift will again benefits Democrats in the next and future elections. Republicans really have shot themselves in the foot with all of their Covid misinformation.

      Again, it is to try to counter that ongoing misinformation that I expanded this article to three parts, in hopes of saving at least some of those 92,300 lives.

 

Blood Clots Due to Covid; Not the Vaccines

 

      A common claim of Covid antivaxxers is the vaccines cause blood clots and other cardiovascular problems. However, that is actually true of Covid itself, not of the vaccines.

      Take, for instance, meteorologist Al Roker, 68. He was hospitalized for blood clots in his legs on November 18, 2022. Covid antivaxxers immediately jumped on that, claiming it was due to him being vaccinated. But they seemed to forget he had Covid at the end of September. That infection, not the vaccines, was the most likely cause of his blood clots.

 

      An increased risk of blood clots persists for close to a year after a COVID-19 infection, a large study shows.

      The health records of 48 million unvaccinated adults in the United Kingdom suggest that the pandemic’s first wave in 2020 may have led to an additional 10,500 cases of heart attack, stroke and other blood clot complications such as deep vein thrombosis, in England and Wales alone.

      The risk of blood clots continues for at least 49 weeks after infection, the study found….

      The risk of clots in veins was 33 times greater in the week after COVID diagnosis, dropping to eight times greater after four weeks. Conditions caused by these clots include deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.

      By 26 to 49 weeks after a COVID diagnosis, the risk dropped to 1.3 times more likely for clots in arteries and 1.8 times more likely for clots in veins, the study showed.

      While people who were not hospitalized had a lower risk, it was not zero, the study found.….

      Researchers are now studying newer data to understand how vaccination and the impact of new COVID variants may affect blood clotting risks (Newsmax. Increased Blood Clot).

 

      Note that this study was in regard to Covid cases in early 2020. That was long before the vaccines were even available, yet the increased risk of blood clots was found to be occurring. That is important as Covid antivaxxers claim there has been a surge in blood clots, which they attribute to the Covid vaccines. But it is in fact Covid itself, not the vaccines, causing the increase in blood clots. Therefore, the favorite way of Covid antivaxxers of referring to the Covid vaccines as “clot shots” is simply wrong.

      Note also the risk of blood clots is greatest in the first few weeks after infection. Roker developed his clots about six weeks after infection. There is also still a risk even if the person only had mild symptoms, as was the case with Roker. That is all further evidence his clots were due to Covid and not the vaccines.

 

Long Covid

 

      Long Covid is another Covid risk the right never talks about. But it also includes the risk of blood clots, among other problems.

 

      There’s a second aspect of long COVID that gets less emphasis, but I am equally worried about, which is not only are there these potentially protracted symptoms, and some people a nuisance and some people disabling, but epidemiologic evidence, and it’s imperfect, but epidemiologic evidence says that a year after a case of COVID, the possibility that you will have things like a heart attack or a stroke or develop diabetes or have cognitive decline is higher if you’ve had COVID than if you haven’t. And I don’t think we’re very secure in that data yet. We’re going to have to see how that plays out over time. But if that’s real, you’re talking about literally tens of millions of people at heightened risk of some of the major killers and disablers that we have in our society (Commonwealth Fund. Who Gets).

 

      It is not yet known if the vaccinated are at lower risk of long Covid and such clotting problems if they contract Covid than the unvaccinated. But given the reduced risk of serious illness with vaccination, I feel safe in predicting that will prove to be the case. And early evidence supports that prediction.

 

      Scientists are also looking at whether vaccines could be part of the answer. A Yale University team is studying the possibility that vaccination might reduce long COVID symptoms. And two other studies offer early evidence that being vaccinated before getting COVID-19 could help prevent the lingering illness or at least reduce its severity (WTAE. Can you).

 

Other False Claims

 

      Among the COVID-specific misconceptions were claims that the vaccines might cause infertility, of which there is no evidence, or that they might change a person’s DNA, which is false. Other concerns were that the vaccines frequently cause allergic reactions, which are actually rare, and that the vaccines were riskier than getting COVID, which is false. Some worried the vaccines were responsible for thousands of deaths. There is no evidence of this….

      The study found less support for COVID vaccination of children among Black and Hispanic respondents, evangelical Christians, Republicans and women, as well as the parents of children 12 to 17.

      Vaccines protect against hospitalization in children for more than 20 weeks and can reduce the risk of infection, the researchers pointed out (Newsmax. COVID Vaccine Myths).

 

      Note the mention of “less support for COVID vaccination” among Republicans and evangelical Christians. The latter would be harder to quantify, as defining who is really a Christian is harder than just checking voting registration roles for political party affiliation. But I would bet a similar higher rate of death would be found among evangelical Christians as among Republicans as compared to the general population. That would be for the same sad reason—the spreading of Covid and vaccine misinformation, but for this group, in evangelical churches.

 

Continued Seriousness of Covid

 

      Though Covid is much less of an issue today as it was a year ago, as already indicated, hundreds of Americans a day are still dying from Covid. That number is far down from the peak of the pandemic, but it is still significant. Yet the right would have us believe Covid is no longer an issue and thus there is no reason to get vaccinated or boosted. But that is far from the truth.

 

      Disease experts predict that Covid will remain among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. for the foreseeable future….

      After President Joe Biden said the coronavirus pandemic was “over” in an interview Sunday, many people were left wondering how to reconcile his comment with the fact that the U.S. is still averaging about 500 Covid deaths every day [as of 9/19/22].

      But disease experts said debating whether the pandemic is over overshadows a more important concern: the reality that Covid will remain a leading cause of death in the U.S. indefinitely….

      Covid was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020, after heart disease and cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The same was true last year [2021], provisional CDC data shows. Since April, Covid deaths have stayed relatively flat, at a weekly average of around 300 to 500 per day. If the trend continues, the U.S. could expect 113,000 to 188,000 deaths a year from Covid, putting it on par with Alzheimer’s, chronic lower respiratory diseases and stroke…

      Experts said Covid is likely to remain among the U.S.’s 10 leading causes of death for the foreseeable future, regardless of new vaccines, boosters or treatments that might become available (NBC News. Covid will be).

 

      Note the prediction of “113,000 to 188,000 deaths a year from Covid.” That is along lines of my prediction of 127,750 deaths. If anything, my prediction is a bit low, as that average is 150,500. That would make Covid still 4.7 times as deadly as the flu. And of those, 108,736 would be needless deaths that could be prevented by being vaccinated. It would also mean Covid is more deadly the opioid epidemic. Again, why are Republicans talking about needless deaths from the opioid epidemic but not needless deaths from Covid?

 

      Emergency rooms are clogged with people who are waiting for inpatient beds or other care and it’s causing a crisis, according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

      ACEP is one of more than 30 medical, patient advocacy and public health and safety groups who have sent a letter to the White House asking for a summit to work on immediate and long-term solutions.

      The problem is urgent as U.S. emergency rooms deal with a “tripledemic” — the respiratory disease threat of influenza, COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). (Newsmax. ER Docs).

 

      The possibility of a tripledemic (or tridemic) is a serious issue. There is no vaccine for RSV, but there is for Covid and the flu. Getting vaccinated against both is the best way to ensure you are not one of the  ones waiting hours in the ER to be treated. But Covid antivax attitudes are filtering down to the flu shot and other vaccines, with fewer Americans getting vaccinated against it, leading to this tridemic and a rise in other preventable diseases.

 

      Skepticism toward Covid-19 vaccines could be fueling a “worrisome” rise in broader anti-vax sentiment, doctors have said.

      Professor Liam Smeeth, a physician and director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told CNBC he was concerned that vaccine hesitancy around Covid was “creeping into” sentiment toward other vaccines…

      “If they got the Covid vaccine and possibly even boosted and still ended up getting a breakthrough infection, their immediate response may be ‘what was the point if I ended up with an infection anyways? What’s the point of getting other vaccines?’” he said in an email.

      “When that has come up, I tell my patients that while they may still have got an infection, it could have been much worse if they [were unvaccinated] — and the data overwhelmingly says that your chance of hospitalization and death are significantly reduced when vaccinated and boosted.”

      Cherian said it was important to bear in mind that this was not unique to Covid vaccines: no vaccine is 100% effective. 

      “Just think of the annual influenza vaccine,” he said. “I myself a few years ago got the flu shot and still ended up getting the flu, but that has never (nor should it) deterred me from getting influenza shots every year” (CNBC. Covid vaccine skepticism, brackets in original).

 

    Another possible reason for the increase in flu and RSV cases will discussed in Part Three.

 

Updated Booster Shots and the New Omicron Subvariants

 

      Updated booster shots are now available that target more directly Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5. But the right is scaring people off of getting them by saying they have only been tested on mice, not humans. That was true initially. But that is the same as for the annual flu shot. Also, in both cases, it is not a new vaccine but just a tweaking of the previous ones.

 

      There is not yet real-world data on how these bivalent vaccines perform in humans. Infectious disease experts compared the process of creating the new boosters to that of the annual flu shot, which is updated each year and primarily tested on animals, not humans.

      “I’m not worried at all,” Dr. Chin-Hong said. “They’re not using any new ingredients. It’s like you’re still making brownies — you’re still using chocolate, sugar, flour. Maybe now you’re using more chocolate” (NYT. What to Know).

 

Readers’ comment after this New York Times article are instructive and will substitute for my comments.

 

      However, you will see “It was only tested on Mice!” Don’t let misinformation and fear prevent you from getting the protection you need. And even if you get a breakthrough infection you are likely to avoid death and hospitalization, so I sincerely hope a majority of folks will consider getting it.

 

      If you re-read the article, you will see that the difference between the original vaccine and the bivalent version is minimal and similar to the variant tweaking done for the annual flu shot. The basis mRNA vaccine was not only tested in humans for safety, it meanwhile has been shown to be safe and highly effective in billions of people. The mouse studies were more about trying to determine efficacy, not safety. Actual human efficacy will be demonstrated over the coming months.

 

      This past week [of 8/31/22] , there’s been about 420 Covid deaths per day. About 60 were vaccinated people, and 360 were not vaccinated. So you can choose for yourself.

 

I am not sure where the last commentator got his statistics from, as I looked for but could not find updated numbers. Given the death number, his numbers are probably from the summer of this year (2022). And what he gives is consistently with what I reported for earlier in the pandemic.

360 of 420 deaths being among the unvaccinated is 85%. I previously reported that for previous waves of Covid since the vaccines became readily available, the three major hospital networks here in southwestern PA (Excela, UPMC, and AHN), consistently reported that 80-90% of those in their hospitals and who died from Covid were not vaccinated. The same was true for hospital systems in other parts of the USA.

That would be for the summer of 2021 when we were still dealing with the original Wuhan Coronavirus, through the Delta wave of the fall of 2021, through the Omicron wave of the winter of 2021-22. Consequently, it makes sense that 85% of those now being hospitalized and dying from the Omicron subvariants would also be unvaccinated.

But still, it was hoped the new bivalent vaccines would be more effective against the various circulating Omicron subvariants. However, two early, small studies showed that might not be the case (CBS News. White House). The right jumped on those early studies, saying they showed it was not worth getting the updated shots. But those early studies showed they were still at least as effective as the original vaccines. And more recent and larger studies are showing they are in fact more effective than the original vaccines against the  new Omicron subvariants.

 

      Pfizer said people 55 and older who got the omicron-targeting booster had four-fold higher antibody levels than those given an extra dose of the original vaccine….

      With many Americans reluctant to roll up their sleeves again, perhaps the better question is how the new booster compares to going without another dose.

      A hint: A month after receiving the new booster, antibody levels in people 55 and older had jumped 13 times higher than before the extra dose. Younger adults saw a 9.5-fold jump, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said. It had been about 11 months since the study participants’ last vaccination.

      It’s too soon to know how much real-world protection the antibody boost translates into — and how long it will last. The results are preliminary, the study is still underway and infection-fighting antibodies naturally wane over time….

      About 26.3 million Americans have gotten an updated booster since they rolled out in early September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [as of November 4, 2022] (Newsmax. Pfizer).

 

      The following is also worth noting in this regard:

      A new subvariant of the novel-coronavirus called XBB dramatically announced itself earlier this week, in Singapore….

      The good news is that the new “bivalent” vaccine boosters from Pfizer and Moderna seem to work just fine against XBB, even though the original vaccines are less effective against XBB. They won’t prevent all infections and reinfections, but they should significantly reduce the chance of severe infection potentially leading to hospitalization or death. “Even with immune-evasive variants, vaccine protection against what matters most—severe disease—remains intact,” Adalja said….

      [Peter] Hotez [Hotez, an expert in vaccine development at Baylor College] calls these viral cousins the “Scrabble” subvariants, a nod to the classic word game and the jumble of scientific designations of closely related viruses….

      The bivalent boosters should work pretty well against forms of the virus that are closely related to BA.5, including the Scrabbles. “That is because one of the two components [in the boosters] induces an immune response to BA.5, and most of the new Scrabble variants look more BA.5 like than [the] original China lineage,” Hotez told The Daily Beast (Daily Beast. The Nightmare, brackets in original).

.

      Scientists first named BQ.1 in September.….

      … the freshly reformulated boosters from Moderna and Pfizer that were approved in September could help blunt a BQ.1 surge, Fauci noted. Those boosters had been available for Americans ages 12 and up, but are now available for children age 5 and older (Newsmax. New Omicron Variants).

 

Note that another reason these new variants are called the “Scrabble” variants is because they often have “X” or “Q” in their names. Players of that classic board game know that use of those letters bring higher points than other letters.

 

Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) said on Monday [11/14/22] its Omicron-tailored vaccines produced a better immune response against the BA.4/5 subvariants in a mid-to-late stage study, when given as a booster dose, compared with its original shot.

Data shows that both of Moderna’s Omicron-tailored shots, mRNA-1273.214 and mRNA-1273.222, produced a higher antibody response against BA.4/5 subvariants than its original shot in vaccinated and boosted adults, the company said.

Moderna, however, said levels of neutralizing antibody response dropped nearly 5-fold against the emerging subvariant BQ.1.1 when compared with BA.4/5, in an analysis of about 40 participants, although the virus neutralizing activity still remained “robust” (Reuters. Moderna's Omicron).

 

 NBC News Radio on November 15, 2022 reported that BA.4&5 now only constitute about one-third of Covid cases in the USA. That is the problem with trying to produce an undated vaccine for the newest variants. By the time it is available, the virus might have already mutated to a new form. But, as indicated in the final quote, the new Moderna shot still provides “robust” protection against the new BQ.1.1. There is also the following:

 

Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE said on Friday [11/18/22] their omicron-tailored shot produced higher virus-neutralizing antibodies in older adults against the emerging subvariant BQ.1.1 than its original vaccine.

Antibody levels against the variant rose nearly 9 times in older adults, aged 55 and above, who received the omicron shot compared to a 2-fold increase in participants with the original shot, according to data posted on the online archive bioRxiv.

BQ.1.1 variant, which is closely related to the BA.5 omicron subvariant, was estimated to account for about 24.1% of the COVID-19 cases in United States, as of Nov. 12 [2022].

Pfizer and BioNtech said the bivalent shot also produced an immune response against newer omicron subvariants including BA.4.6, BA.2.75.2 and XBB.1 (Newsmax. Pfizer Omicron).

 

The BA.5 variant was responsible for about 30% of new cases in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but two new variants have been crowding out the once-dominant strain in recent weeks. The BQ.1.1. variant now accounts for 24% of cases, up from 2% in early October and the close cousin BQ.1 accounts for 20% of cases.

The original covid-19 vaccines have offered strong protection against severe disease and death no matter the variant.

That’s a good reason to stay up-to-date on boosters, Dr. Kathryn Stephenson of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said earlier this week, ahead of Pfizer’s data.

“Any kind of boost really reduces your chances of getting very sick from covid,” she said (AP. Pfizer booster).

 

      Therefore, even with the ever-changing virus, the updated shots potentially offer even better protection against the newer variants than the original shots.

 

Do You Need the Booster If You Had Covid or Are Fully Vaccinated?

 

      Do you need the new updated booster shot if you had Covid? The answer would depend on when you had Covid. If you had Covid recently, you probably do not need the booster, as you are already protected against the most recent Omicron variants.

      However, if you had Covid in 2020 or 2021, then you probably do need the new shot, as those infections were pre-Omicron. And if you were vaccinated back in 2021, then you also probably need the updated shots, as the original shots are not as effective against the Scrabble variants.

      That last point is important, as Fox News Channel reported on November 23, 2022 that a new study found over half (58%) of Covid deaths were among those who were vaccinated. But “vaccinated” just means the original two shots. It does not include being boosted, let alone with the new bivalent shot (Fox News. Vaccinated).

      Most of those who are just vaccinated were vaccinated in 2021. That immunity has worn down, and those shots were for the original Wuhan virus. As such, that study is as relevant as a study that would find those who received a flu shot in 2021 are still dying from the flu during the 2022-23 flu season. The reason there are annual flu shots is the flu virus mutates each flu season and immunity wanes , so a new flu shot is needed every year. It is the same with Covid

      In addition, according to the NYT Covid tracker, 68% of Americans are fully vaccinated. That of course means 32% are unvaccinated, or over a 2-1 ratio. Yet, with an almost even number of deaths between the two groups, the unvaccinated are still dying at about twice the rate as the vaccinated. Add in the new booster, and that ration will jump greatly in favor of being vaccinated.

      Finally, to be clear, I am primarily talking about those at high risk from Covid, which is to say, those over 65 and those under 65 with comorbidities like obesity and diabetes. For them, the benefit/ risk ratio is quite high for getting vaccinated. But it is much lower for those who are young and healthy. As always, talk to your doctor about your personal risk.

 

This multi-part article is continued at
Update on Covid Deaths (Refuting Covid Lies by the Right and Fearmongering by the Left): Part Three.

 

References:

      See Update on Covid Deaths (Refuting Covid Lies by the Right and Fearmongering by the Left): References.

Update on Covid Deaths: Part Two (Continuing Covid and Vaccine Lies by the Right). Copyright 2022 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).

The Biased J6 Select Committee
The Public Hearings Were Half a Trial; This Book Gives You the Other Half

    The public hearings in the summer and in October of 2022 about the tragic events of January 6, 2021 (J6) were the prosecution presenting its case against Donald J. Trump. But he was not afforded a defense. This book provides that defense. Do not miss how dangerous this precedent was. What if this were you? How would you like it if primetime hearings were held prosecuting you, aired on all major networks, but without you ever being able to present a defense on such a grand scale? But this book presents the other side, so the reader can make an informed decision about J6 and Trump’s role in it.

The above article was posted on this website December 1, 2022.

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