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More Covid Right-Wing Deceptions and Left-Wing Miscues

(Natural vs. Vaccine Immunity Revisited, Counting Covid Deaths, Covid and Heart Issues)

By Gary F. Zeolla

 

This article is a follow-up to 2022 Updated Covid Booster Shot Benefits and Risks.

 

      I began to write this article at the beginning of this year (2023) but never got around to finishing it. But now, at the end of 2023, I think it is still relevant, as the same antivax arguments are still circulating on the Internet and via right-wing commentators, while the left and most authorities are still not acknowledging the importance of natural immunity.

 

 

Natural vs. Vaccine Immunity Revisited

 

      COVID-19 vaccination is more effective than natural immunity when it comes to keeping you out of the hospital, a major, real-world study has found.

      People of all age groups benefited significantly more when they got the jab than if they acquired immunity through a COVID infection, researchers report.

      Rates of hospitalization and death for any reason -- not just COVID -- were 37% lower for vaccinated folks than for people with natural immunity, researchers found….

      Vaccinated people also landed in an ER 24% less often than the previously infected, the results showed.

      The study relied on data drawn from the Indiana Network for Patient Care, one of the nation’s largest health information exchanges, researchers said.

      Vaccine recipients and people with prior COVID infections between the ages of 12 and 110 were matched and compared across the entire state of Indiana.

      Interestingly, COVID infections occurred more often in vaccine recipients (6.7%) than in people previously infected (2.9%), noted study co-author Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president for data and analytics at the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis….

      “Our work confirms that mRNA vaccines have kept people out of the ED [emergency department] and the hospital, as well as lowered the likelihood of death from any cause,” [Wanzhu] Tu [a research scientist with the Regenstrief Institute] said in the release. “And we saw this pattern in every age group” (Newsmax. COVID Vaccine More).

 

      A study in Indiana, which involved more than 520,000 people, compared vaccinated people with unvaccinated, previously infected people. The study found that all-cause mortality was 37% lower in the vaccinated group. Further reinforcing this finding, the researchers reported that the unvaccinated group had a 24 and 37% higher rate of all-cause emergency department visits and hospitalization compared to the vaccinated group, respectively, underscoring the benefits of vaccination (Health Feedback. CDC data shows).

 

      Results. We matched 267 847 pairs of individuals. Six months after the index date, the incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection was significantly higher in vaccine recipients (6.7%) than the previously infected (2.9%). All-cause mortality in the vaccinated, however, was 37% lower than that of the previously infected. The rates of all-cause ED visits and hospitalizations were 24% and 37% lower in the vaccinated than in the previously infected.

      Conclusions. The significantly lower rates of all-cause ED visits, hospitalizations, and mortality in the vaccinated highlight the real-world benefits of vaccination. The data raise questions about the wisdom of reliance on natural immunity when safe and effective vaccines are available….

      The study data showed that vaccination provided superior protection against all-cause ED visits, hospitalizations, and all-cause mortality compared with the levels of protection conferred by previous SARS-CoV-2 infections. Previous studies have shown that mRNA vaccines are highly effective in preventing COVID-19‒related hospitalizations and mortality.3,24,25 However, to our knowledge, no studies have directly compared the real-world protective effects of recent (i.e., 6 months) natural and vaccine-induced immunity against all-cause mortality and hospitalization in a statewide population. The study showed that while people of all age groups benefited from vaccination, reduction in mortality was especially impressive in older adults aged 60 years or older.

      Interestingly, at least in the study population and at time of this analysis, natural immunity appears more effective in preventing new infections, a finding that is also reported in an earlier observational study. Still, the significant reductions in all-cause health events (i.e., 24% reduction in ED visits, 37% reduction in hospitalization, and 37% reduction in mortality) in the vaccinated group are quite notable, especially considering the higher infection rate in the vaccine recipients during the same period. For states with large populations, a difference of such magnitudes could translate to hundreds or even thousands of lives saved (AJPH. SARS-CoV-2 Infection).

 

      This is an important study, as are the specifics of its results. Covid antivaxxers will cite studies like this one and say the vaccinated are more likely to get infected with Covid than the unvaccinated. But that is deceptive, as it is not vaccinated vs. unvaccinated. It is those with vaccine immunity versus those with natural immunity.

      And it might be true the former is more likely to get infected than the latter. But they fail to give the other half—that the vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized or to die from Covid than those with natural immunity.

      This takes us back to my earlier discussion about being flabbergasted that the right simply cannot seem to fathom the difference between getting infected and having little or no symptoms versus getting infected and having severe symptoms that puts people into the hospital or even into the morgue (see under “Background/ Testing Positive vs. Severe Illness” at Update on Covid Deaths: Refuting Covid Lies by the Right and Fearmongering by the Left: Part One).

      Here, if you want to avoid the former, then natural immunity is best. But if you want to avoid the latter, then vaccine immunity is best. That the Covid antivaxxers do not explain.

 

      The immunity generated from an infection was found to be “at least as high, if not higher” than that provided by two doses of an mRNA vaccine….

      Infection-acquired immunity cut the risk of hospitalization and death from a Covid reinfection by 88% for at least 10 months, the study found….

      While Murray and Wachter agreed that vaccination remains the safest route, having a past Covid infection should at least be considered in policymaking decisions going forward, such as vaccination requirements, they said. …

      At the very least, he added, officials should accept that evidence of recent infection is equivalent to vaccination.

      Notably, the immunity acquired from infection did appear to wane more slowly than the immunity from two doses of an mRNA vaccine.

      However, Murray said a booster dose would return protection to a higher level. …

      “If you are thinking about getting a booster, it’s a perfectly reasonable call to look at this and say I’ll wait six or eight months before getting my booster,” Wachter said. “That’s a reasonable conclusion from looking at the study” (NBC News. Immunity acquired).

 

      Here is where the left and most authorities got it wrong. Although the previous study showed vaccine immunity is better at preventing hospitalization and death than natural immunity, natural immunity should not be discounted. It is protective, and its protection appears to last longer than that of vaccine immunity. As such, at the very least, having been infected with Covid should have been counted as the same as having been vaccinated when it came to vaccine mandates.

      To be clear, there never should have been vaccine mandates at all. But if you were going to have them, proof of a prior infection should have counted the same as having been vaccinated. But natural immunity was completely ignored when it came to those mandates, leading to many needlessly losing their jobs or being kicked out of college or the military.

      However, even natural immunity wanes, just slower than vaccine immunity, and natural immunity is most effective against the same variant the person was infected with. Whenever the virus mutates to a new variant, both natural and vaccine immunity loses its effectiveness. That is why updated booster shots are needed for both. They restore the level of immunity to where it was soon after infection or original vaccination, at least against severe illness (see 2022 Updated Covid Booster Shot Benefits and Risks).

      The same would then go for the person who gets infected after a prior infection or after vaccination. In both cases, that new infection should “count” the same as a booster shot. In that case, an actual booster shot would not be needed for about another year or until a new booster shot is available against newly circulating variants that developed after the infection. However, the left and most authorities will not make that distinction and say you still needed boosted even after such an infection in as little as three months later.

 

Dying From Versus With Covid Revisited

 

      I want to revisit an issue that has been a matter of debate since the start of the pandemic. It is the question of the accuracy of the Covid death counts. Specifically, many conservatives claim that among the reported 1.1 million Covid deaths, many only died with Covid but not from or of Covid.

      I expressed concerns in this regard myself at the beginning of the pandemic. However, I came to realize that the concern was unfounded.

      First, let me to put to rest the claim of many conservatives that if someone were to die from say a motorcycle accident, but then was tested postmortem and was found to have Covid, that would be listed as a Covid death. Similarly, someone hospitalized after an accident but who tested positive would be listed as a Covid hospitalization, even though they mainly needed trauma care.

      The claim was hospitals and morgues would get greater reimbursements for Covid hospitalizations and deaths versus accident-caused hospitalizations and deaths, so they would so falsify the hospitalization admissions forms and death certificates.

      Such claims are in a word nonsense. To falsify hospitalization admissions forms and death certificates is a felony. And the person who so falsifies an official document would not only risk jail time but also forfeiture of his or her medical license.

      Meanwhile, there are thousands of hospitals and coroners nationwide. For such misclassifications to have had any appreciable effect on the Covid death counts, you would need a massive conspiracy among all of those independent hospitals and coroners to falsify a great number of documents, all at risk of imprisonment and loss of licensure. Only the most tinfoil-hat-wearer among us could believe such a massive conspiracy is occurring.

 

      “The suggestion that doctors — in the midst of a public health crisis — are overcounting covid-19 patients or lying to line their pockets is a malicious, outrageous and completely misguided charge,” Dr. Susan R. Bailey, American Medical Association president, said in a news release.

      Hospitals are paid for covid treatment the same as for any other care, though generally, the more serious the problem, the more hospitals are paid. So, treating a ventilator patient — with covid-19 or any other illness — would mean higher payment to a hospital than treating one who didn’t require a ventilator, reflecting the extra cost.

      There is one financial difference. Medicare, the government health program for the elderly and disabled, pays 20% on top of its ordinary reimbursement for covid patients — a result of the CARES Act, the federal stimulus bill that passed in the spring [of 2020].

      That additional payment applies only to Medicare patients.

      Experts say there is simply no evidence that physicians or hospitals are labeling patients as having covid-19 simply to collect that additional payment….

      And what about medical examiners? Are they part of a concerted effort to overcount deaths to reap financial rewards?

      “Medical examiners and coroners in the U.S. are not organized enough to have a conspiracy. There are 2,300 jurisdictions,” said Dr. Sally Aiken, president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. “That’s not happening.” …

      And the claim that some states are counting people who die in car accidents, but also test positive for covid-19, as covid deaths is just plain unfounded, experts said.

      “I can’t imagine a scenario where a medical examiner would test someone for covid who died in a motor vehicle accident or a homicide,” said Engel, at the epidemiologists council. “I think that’s been greatly exaggerated on the internet” (AP. How covid death).

 

      Yet, even now, such claims are still being made. A guest on Newsmax on Saturday, January 21, 2023, repeated the claim that people dying in car accidents but who tested positive for Covid are being counted as Covid deaths. Sadly, the host did not challenge him on that claim but let it stand.

      However, a more common version of this idea is that people who are very sick but then contract Covid and die are counted as Covid deaths. But in reality, it was their preexisting condition that killed them, not Covid. I expressed such a concern in my article Nursing Home Deaths, published April 4, 2020. I now need to correct what I said in that article.

      Yes, it is true that many who died in the pandemic were not well when they first contracted Covid. But that does not mean Covid did not contribute to their deaths. It is just that it was not the sole cause.

      For instance, back on July 28, 1999, when I was 38 years old and much healthier than I am now, I was in a serious bicycle accident. But given my relatively younger age and better health, I recovered rather quickly from that accident, despite its seriousness.

      However, someone I know was in a serious car accident a few years ago. She was about 65 at the time and not at all healthy. She was obese and, as a result of her obesity, was diabetic and had heart problems. She did not die immediately from the accident, but she never recovered from it, and died a few weeks later.

      The question is, did she die from the accident? Or did she die from her obesity, diabetes, and preexisting heart problems? The answer would be both. If she had been younger and healthier, as I was when I had my accident, she probably could have recovered from her accident as I did from mine. But as it was, her body was just not able to heal itself given its preexisting state.

      I would bet her death certificate listed the accident, but it probably also listed her obesity, diabetes, and heart disease as contributing factors. On the other hand, if she had not been in that accident, she probably would have lived for several more years, even in her poor health state.

      Let’s substitute Covid for a bicycle accident or car accident. In both cases, the results would probably have been the same. Back then, being younger and healthier, I probably would have recovered rather quickly from a Covid infection, while that car accident victim probably would not have. In her case, her death certificate would have listed Covid as a cause, but it would also have listed her preexisting conditions.

      In other words, just because people have preexisting conditions that contribute to them being susceptible to serious problems from a Covid infection does not mean Covid is not a contributor to their deaths. And if Covid causes them to die years earlier than they would have otherwise, that is a tragedy and should be regarded as a Covid death. That holds true even if they would have died within a few months or even weeks anyways. Covid still shortened their lives. As such, their deaths should be counted as Covid deaths.

      At the end of my article 12,000 not 200,000,  I state that my supposition of the accuracy of the Covid death counts would be proven correct or incorrect based on the excess death count for 2020. If it ended up being 400,000, in line with the estimated Covid deaths that would occur that year, then I would be proven wrong. Well, that is in fact what the excess death count showed. And I, and all other Covid deniers, were proven incorrect. I am man enough to admit I was wrong on that one point. But sadly, other conservatives have clung to this false claim, despite the evidence to the contrary.

 

      An additional approach to determining the pandemic’s scope has emerged, and many experts increasingly point to this measure as a useful indicator.

      It relies on a concept known as “excess deaths,” which involves comparing the total number of deaths from all causes in a given period with the same period in previous years.

      A CDC study estimated that almost 300,000 more people died in the U.S. this year [2020] from late January through Oct. 3 than in previous years. Some of those excess deaths were no doubt covid cases, while others may have been people who avoided medical care because of the pandemic and then died from another cause.

      These excess deaths are “the best evidence” that undercounting [note: not overcounting] is ongoing, said Dr. Jeremy Faust, an ER doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “The timing of the excess deaths exactly parallels the covid deaths, so when covid deaths spike, all causes of deaths spike. They are hugging each other like parallel train tracks on a graph.”

      Faust believes the majority of the excess deaths should be attributed in some way to covid-19 (AP. How covid death).

 

      However, long before the final excess death counts for 2020 became available, I realized my error and recognized the seriousness of Covid for those in high-risk groups. That came about when I did the calculations for my article Revised Coronavirus Numbers, posted on May 30, 2020.

      In that article, I predicted one million Americans would die from Covid over the course of three years of the pandemic. That ghastly number caused me to begin to take Covid seriously. And here we are, three years into it, and sadly, I underestimated the number, as we just passed 1.1 million Covid deaths.

 

Heart-Related Deaths in 2020

 

      Jan. 27, 2023 – Cardiovascular-related deaths increased dramatically in 2020, marking the largest single-year increase since 2015 and surpassing the previous record from 2003, according to the 2023 Statistical Update from the American Heart Association….

      Overall, the number of people who died from cardiovascular disease increased during the first year of the pandemic, rising from 876,613 in 2019 to 928,741 in 2020. This topped the previous high of 910,000 in 2003….

      The largest increases in CVD-related deaths were among Asian, Black, and Hispanic people, who were most heavily affected during the first year of the pandemic.

      For the next several years, the Heart Association's Statistical Update will likely include more insights about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing disparities (WebMD. U.S. Heart-Related).

 

      “COVID-19 has both direct and indirect impacts on cardiovascular health. As we learned, the virus is associated with new clotting and inflammation. We also know that many people who had new or existing heart disease and stroke symptoms were reluctant to seek medical care,” Dr. Michelle Albert, the group's president and a professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, said in a news release announcing the annual publication compiled by the association and the National Institutes of Health.

      Heart disease again made up the largest share of these deaths in 2020, at 41.2%, followed by stroke at 17.3%.

      The report just adds to the evidence of the wide-reaching toll the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic took on Americans' health and longevity. Earlier findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tallied the rate of heart disease deaths worsening across every demographic group for 2020….

      Experts have long warned that common heart conditions, like coronary artery disease, were conclusively linked to raising a person's risk of severe COVID-19 illness and death.

      In turn, a COVID infection can also affect the cardiovascular system in a myriad of ways, ranging from damaging heart tissue to causing blood clots.

      Studies have also pointed to concerning links between the pandemic and worsening risk factors that can underlie heart problems.

      One study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute found blood pressure increased during the first year of the pandemic, after months of relatively unchanged readings (CBS News. Heart-related deaths).

 

      Note that 928,741 - 876,613 = 52,128. That is a 5.9% increase in heart related deaths during the first year of the pandemic. Do not miss that this is for 2020, before the vaccines were even available. As such, there is no way the vaccines caused this increase in heart disease. It was in fact Covid itself, not the vaccines.

      What this means is, the Covid antivaxxers have it wrong. When you hear of someone dying from a heart-related condition, rather than blaming the vaccines, you should be asking, “Did the person ever have Covid?” If so, then that is a far more likely cause than the vaccines.

      This is not to say there is not a heart-related risk with the vaccines. There is, but it is far less likely than experiencing a heart-related condition from having Covid.

 

An Anecdote and Covid Deniers

 

      I mentioned previously about a friend who had Covid twice. She now has heart problems. Though she had many health problems previously, she did not have heart problems. But now she does, but she never got vaccinated. As such, the vaccines did not cause her heart problems. Covid did.

      When I mentioned this anecdote on a news site forum, someone discounted it by saying just because she tested positive for Covid and even if she had the symptoms of Covid, that does not mean she had Covid. He claimed that the tests are unreliable, and that other viruses can cause those same symptoms.

      I didn’t mention it then, but I will here, she received the monoclonal antibody Covid treatment the second time, and recovered much quicker that time as a result.

      Therefore, she tested positive for Covid, she had the symptoms of Covid, and she responded positively to a treatment for Covid. If it walks like a duck, flies like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. But Covid deniers are so set in their denials of the seriousness of Covid that they invent a fictitious virus in place of the real Covid virus. Truly astounding.

 

The next article in this series is A Fraud and a Quack (Two Beloved Covid Antivax Doctors).

References:

    AHA Journals. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association.

    AJPH. SARS-CoV-2 Infection, Hospitalization, and Death in Vaccinated and Infected Individuals by Age Groups in Indiana, 2021‒2022.

    AP. How covid death counts become the stuff of conspiracy theories (via Trib Live).

    CBS News. Heart-related deaths rose sharply during first year of COVID-19 pandemic, report shows.

    Health Feedback. CDC data shows that COVID-19 is a major cause of excess deaths in the U.S., contrary to Exposť article ascribing deaths to COVID-19 vaccines.

    NBC News. Immunity acquired from a Covid infection is as protective as vaccination against severe illness and death, study finds.

    Newsmax. COVID Vaccine More Effective Than Infection at Preventing Hospitalization, Death.

    WebMD. U.S. Heart-Related Deaths Jumped During First Year of Pandemic.

 

 

More Covid Right-Wing Deceptions  and Left-wing Miscues (Natural vs. Vaccine Immunity Revisited, Counting Covid Deaths, Covid and Heart Issues). Copyright © 2023 by Gary F. Zeolla (www.Zeolla.org).


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The above article was posted on this website December 7, 2023.

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