“There are some scientists who have absolutely loved being media stars for the first time and they don’t want to stop. We don’t hear as much from the paediatricians, disease physicians, academic virologists and the immunologists who really know about these things.” (says Professor Allyson Pollock.)
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said many prominent Covid voices have never written papers on infectious diseases. “It’s like me deciding, ‘I did a course on health and economics a year ago: maybe I should set up a group advising the chancellor on how to manage the tax system.’”
The UK is suffering a wave of excess deaths not fully explained by the coronavirus, according to official statistics.
There were 12,050 deaths registered in England and Wales in the seven days to November 12, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows. That was 1,719 more than the five-year average for 2015-19, or a 16.6 per cent increase.
Professor Sunetra Gupta of Oxford University explains herd immunity, highlighting critical details about both the concept and its relevance to the COVID-19 pandemic that are often overlooked in public discussion.
The development of immunity through natural infection is a common feature of many pathogens, and we now know that COVID-19 does not have any tricks up its sleeve to prevent this from happening. If it did, it would have posed a serious problem for the development of a vaccine.
That being said, COVID-19 belongs to a family of viruses that do not typically confer lifelong immunity against infection. Most of us have never heard of the other four ‘seasonal’ coronaviruses that are currently circulating in our communities. And yet, surveys indicate that at least 3% of the population is infected by any one of these corona cousins during the winter months each year. These viruses can – and do – cause deaths in high-risk groups or require them to receive ICU care or ventilator support. Hence, it is not necessarily true that they are intrinsically milder than the novel COVID-19 virus. And like the COVID-19 virus, the other coronas are much less virulent in the healthy elderly and younger people than influenza.
One important reason why these corona cousins do not kill large numbers of people is that, even though we lose immunity and can be reinfected, there is always a sufficient proportion of immune people within the population to keep the risk of infection low for those who might die upon contracting it. Also, all of the coronaviruses in circulation — including COVID-19 — have some features in common, which means that getting one coronavirus will probably offer some protection against the others. This is becoming increasingly clear from work in many labs, including my lab in Oxford. It is against the background of acquired immunity to COVID-19 itself, as well as its close relations, that the new virus has to operate.
It is misleading to speak of “reaching” herd immunity. Herd immunity is a continuous variable that increases as people become immune and decreases as they lose immunity or die. There is a threshold of herd immunity at which the rate of new infections begins to decrease. We do not yet have a clear idea of what this threshold is for COVID-19 as the transmission landscape includes people who are susceptible to it, people who have built up immunity to it, and people who have immunity to other coronaviruses.
Unfortunately, we do not have a good way of telling how many people have been exposed to the new virus, nor how many people were resistant to begin with. We can test for antibodies but, as with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 antibody levels decline after recovery, and some people do not make them at all. Thus, antibody levels will not answer this question. More and more evidence is accumulating that other arms of immunity, like T cells, play an important role.
Indications of the herd immunity threshold having been reached in a given location are visible in the time signatures of epidemics where death and infection curves tend to either “bend” in the absence of intervention or to stay down when interventions are relaxed (in comparison with other locations where the opposite happened). Unfortunately, we do not know how far (or close) we are to that threshold in most parts of the world. This means that we need to make public health decisions based only on limited information and do so in a constantly changing environment.
Focused Protection was initially proposed as a solution for how we could proceed in the face of such uncertainty and it remains relevant now. It suggests that we exploit the fact that COVID-19 does not cause much harm to the large majority of the population and allow those individuals to resume their normal lives, while shielding those who are vulnerable to severe disease and death. We have good information about who falls into these groups and the availability of vaccines, which offer excellent protection for vulnerable populations and guard against hospitalisable illness, provide us with the ideal setting in which to implement such a plan.
Sunetra Gupta is Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and a member of Collateral Global’s Scientific Advisory Board.
By Professor Sunetra Gupta
28 May 2021
Excess deaths have not been this high since the week ending Feb 19, when 2,182 extra deaths were registered – 18.8 per cent above the pre-2020 five-year average.
Although some of the increase in excess deaths can be explained by the recent rise in deaths involving Covid, most were not linked to the virus.
Kevin McConway, emeritus professor of applied statistics at The Open University, said: “These excess deaths can’t all be explained by deaths of people who had Covid-19. In the most recent week, for England and Wales there were 1,270 more deaths than the five-year average – that’s 14 per cent higher than that average.
…Deaths in private homes have been well above the 2015-19 average almost every week since April last year. Before Covid, around a quarter of deaths occurred at home but that has since risen to one third, according to research by the King’s Fund.
Fully vaccinated people carry the same amount of Covid as the unvaccinated, scientists have found in a new study that calls into question the effectiveness of vaccine passports and changes to the NHS app.
…[E]ven the fully jabbed carry high levels of the virus if they become infected and are also more likely to be symptomatic than vaccinated people who pick up an alpha infection.
The results suggest those who are fully jabbed could be as capable of passing on Covid as the unvaccinated, although they are less likely to pick up the virus in the first place.
University of Oxford scientists are trialling giving Ivermectin to over-50s with Covid symptoms to see if it can keep them out of hospital.
Covid testing in schools is hugely disruptive and should be suspended, experts have said, as it emerged that up to 60 per cent of “positive” tests a week are coming back negative when checked.
Under plans to keep schools open, more than 50 million lateral flow tests have been carried out on youngsters, leading to thousands of pupils and their social bubbles being forced to self-isolate for 10 days.
This is the first instalment of my three-part investigative report on the Chinese-made Innova lateral flow test. Vast sums of UK taxpayers’ money have been paid to a California start-up for tests that have failed to stand up to scrutiny.
…Innova Medical Group, the company benefiting from the UK Government’s huge testing contract, is owned by the private equity group Pasaca Capital which was founded by a Chinese investment banker, the enigmatic Dr Charles Huang, in 2017. It has been revealed to be the single largest recipient of the Department of Health’s Covid contracts after signing a £496million deal to supply LFTs last year. An earlier contract with Innova cost the taxpayer £107million.
I had no choice but to speak out against lockdowns. As a public-health scientist with decades of experience working on infectious-disease outbreaks, I couldn’t stay silent. Not when basic principles of public health are thrown out of the window. Not when the working class is thrown under the bus. Not when lockdown opponents were thrown to the wolves. There was never a scientific consensus for lockdowns. That balloon had to be popped.
…Ultimately, lockdowns protected young low-risk professionals working from home – journalists, lawyers, scientists, and bankers – on the backs of children, the working class and the poor.
Doctors are now being told to look out for signs of the most common type of stroke following the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, after three British patients were admitted to hospital and one died.
Two women in their 30s and a man in his 40s suffered ischaemic strokes after having the vaccine.
Previous reports of rare blood clots from the jab have specifically involved cerebral venous thrombosis – a rare form of stroke caused by the blockage of specific veins.
A woman in her 30s has died from a stroke after the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid vaccination caused a blood clot to form in an artery in her brain.
The patient, a 35-year-old Asian woman, went to hospital six days after her vaccine appointment, and died two weeks after being admitted following “extensive hemorrhaging”.
THE influence of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (GF) extends right into the heart of the British medical and science establishment. It has been funding British companies, charities, universities and public bodies for almost 25 years.
The open letter states that “a good society cannot be created by an obsessive focus on a single cause of ill-health” and states all restrictions should be lifted in June on the final date in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. Masks should no longer be worn by schoolchildren after May 17, say the scientists – and they warn the damage to society will be too great if the current Covid control measures continue beyond the June roadmap date.
Vaccine passports should also be scrapped along with mass community testing, they say.
Instead, the government should focus on targeted testing, creating better incentives for staying home if ill and basic hygiene measures, such as handwashing and surface cleaning.
Signatories (in alphabetical order)
Professor Ryan Anderson, Translational Science, Medicines Discovery Catapult
Dr Colin Axon, Mechanical Engineering, Brunel University
Professor Anthony Brookes, Genomics and Bioinformatics, University of Leicester
Professor Jackie Cassell, FFPH, Deputy Dean, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Professor Angus Dalgleish, FRCP, FRCPath, FMedSci, Oncology, St George’s, University of London
Professor Robert Dingwall, FAcSS, HonMFPH, Sociology, Nottingham Trent University
Professor Sunetra Gupta, Theoretical Epidemiology, University of Oxford
Professor Carl Heneghan, MRCGP, Centre for Evidence Based Medicine, University of Oxford
Professor Mike Hulme, Human Geography, University of Cambridge.
Dr John Lee – formerly Pathology, Hull York Medical School
Professor David Livermore, Medical Microbiology, University of East Anglia.
Professor Paul McKeigue Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, University of Edinburgh
Professor David Paton, Industrial Economics, University of Nottingham
Emeritus Professor Hugh Pennington, CBE, FRCPath, FRCP (Edin), FMedSci, FRSE, Bacteriology, University of Aberdeen
Dr Gerry Quinn, Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster
Dr Roland Salmon, MRCGP, FFPH, former Director of the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (Wales).
Emeritus Professor John Scott, CBE, FRSA, FBA, FAcSS, Sociology, University of Essex
Professor Karol Sikora, FRCR, FRCP, FFPM, Medicine, University of Buckingham
Professor Ellen Townsend, Psychology, University of Nottingham
Dr Chao Wang, Health & Social Care Statistics, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London,
Professor John Watkins, Epidemiology, Cardiff University
Professor Lisa White, Modelling and Epidemiology, University of Oxford.
A year ago, there was no evidence that lockdowns would protect older high-risk people from Covid-19. Now there is evidence. They did not.
With so many Covid-19 deaths, it is obvious that lockdown strategies failed to protect the old. Holding the naïve belief that shutting down society would protect everyone, governments and scientists rejected basic focused protection measures for the elderly. While anyone can get infected, there is more than a thousand-fold difference in the risk of death between the old and the young. The failure to exploit this fact about the virus led to the biggest public health fiasco in history.
A study by Oxford University found the number of people who receive blood clots after getting vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine are about the same for those who get Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as they are for the AstraZeneca vaccine that was produced with the university’s help. According to the study, 4 in 1 million people experience cerebral venous thrombosis after getting the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, versus 5 in 1 million people for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The risk of getting CVT is much higher for those who get COVID-19 — 39 in a million patients — than it is for those for get vaccinated. AstraZeneca’s vaccine use has been halted or limited in many countries on blood clot concerns.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 23 per cent of coronavirus deaths registered are now people who have died “with” the virus rather than “from” an infection.
This means that, while the person who died will have tested positive for Covid, that was not the primary cause of their death recorded on the death certificate.
All UK spontaneous reports received between 04/01/21 and 05/04/21 for COVID-19 vaccine Oxford University/AstraZeneca
The researchers added the gene for the coronavirus spike protein to another virus called an adenovirus. Adenoviruses are common viruses that typically cause colds or flu-like symptoms. The Oxford-AstraZeneca team used a modified version of a chimpanzee adenovirus, known as ChAdOx1. It can enter cells, but it can’t replicate inside them.
QCovid is an evidence-based model that uses a range of factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and existing medical conditions to predict risk of death or hospitalisation from COVID-19.
It provides nuanced information on people’s risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and has the potential to help patients and doctors reach a shared understanding of risk.
It is a ‘living’ risk prediction model which will be updated regularly as our understanding of COVID-19 increases and more data become available.
The risk calculator can be found at the link below. You will be asked to accept the license terms but it does not ask for any personally identifiable information.