COVID vaccine efficacy

The public policy response to COVID19 in most countries includes these two axioms – 1) mass vaccination is essential to end the pandemic, and 2) the vaccines do not prevent the transmission of the virus but they do result in a substantially lower seriousness of the illness in those that catch it.

So it is useful to interrogate these axioms by checking the actual data.

Here is how a small sample of countries is doing with vaccinations.

Israel did remarkably well to get above 50% over 6 months ago. Canada lagged but its vaccine roll out was then rapid. The UK and US are broadly similar. From this chart, the narrative would have you believe that the number of new COVID cases this year should have been highest in Canada, lowest in Israel with the UK and US in between. (Ignore Australia – there is insufficient data yet and it being a closed island creates a mismatch in comparisons to other countries; but I’ll leave the data as a sidenote.)

Here is the chart of new cases:

This chart shows the actual result to be opposite to the expected. Israel is suffering the most new cases, Canada the least and the UK, US in between.

What about the reduction in seriousness of the illness? Here is the case fatality rate:

Israel’s case fatality rate (CFR) has been very stable, showing some reduction this month. There is no obvious associated reduction in CFR with rising vaccination penetration.

Canada’s CFR dropped rapidly during the first half of this year while the vaccine penetration was only around 5% of the population. As the vaccine penetration rapidly increased, the CFR remained stable, with some reduction emerging just recently.

The CFR in the US is similar in pattern to Israel. The UK has seen a reduction in CFR in the last three months which roughly coincides with its increase in case numbers. Overall, the proposition that illness severity is reduced is not compelling.

There is enough evidence to conclude that mass vaccination is not going to end the pandemic. What is missing in this analysis is the effect of naturally acquired immunity relative to vaccine induced immunity. Could it be that a rapid vaccine rollout put a ceiling on natural immunity arising from cases of acquired COVID? I think that would be plausible. If so, an explanation for the actual data is that naturally acquired immunity is more effective than vaccine induced immunity.

We’ve been here before, right?





In the 1930s, the authoritarian forces of Nazism, Fascism and Communism were in the ascendency in Europe. A doctrine that became common to all of the architects and proponents of these ideologies was that the state must not be bound by the law. The rule of law neccessarily meant that the state was unfree. Giacomo Perticone put it this way in 1931: “During the whole of the evolution of judicial thought, one was led to the conclusion that a regime of law was one in which the State was a prisoner of the law, and as a consequence incapable of action, of will, of power, a State indecisive, emasculated and all that which follows.” It followed that a State bound by the rule of law was unfree and to be free to act justly it must not be subject to the obligation to follow the law. In other words, the State should be able to treat citizens exactly as it pleased. [Ref FA Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty]

The proponents and leaders of these totalitarian forces thus justified their right to ignore the concept of the rule of law. At a basic level, the rule of law can be considered as a legal system in which everyone is treated equally before the law, whether it be statute or common. The totalitarians devised their own justification for doing exactly the opposite. Orwell’s oft-quoted sentence from Animal Farm reads: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The sentence captured both the concept of differing treatment and the abuse of language to maintain a power hierarchy and authority to coerce others.

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We only have 10 years left to save the planet

Look, I know that we’ve only had 10 years left to avert global catastrophe for at least the last 30 years and so I will understand it if you are becoming jaded by such screaming headlines. But trust me, this is serious.

The scientific research reported by The Washington Post in 1971 (see below) stated that burning fossil fuels would likely cause a disastrous new ice age within 50 or 60 years. We have just passed the 50 years mark. So we only have 10 years left.

A better roadmap

The Prime Minister's roadmap out of COVID19 and back to normal has been framed within a pretense of knowledge: that governments know best. It clearly foresees the continued use of coercive powers over citizens. This will be counterproductive and extend Australia's misery.

If the World Health Organisation had not changed its definition of pandemic in 2009, COVID19 would no longer be classified as such. Hence, national emergency powers would have been rescinded. The change in definition allowed emergency powers to be maintained, not on the basis of what actually was happening with infections, illness and mortality but on the basis of what might happen. The end result is what we see in Australia right now - 15 million or more people in lockdown in the face of how many actual deaths this year? The answer is twenty one.
An effective roadmap back to normal would begin today with the declaration that the pandemic is over and responsibility for personal health is now handed back to individual people. There is ample knowledge and good sense in the community. People are smart enough to make their own risk-adjusted decisions and mitigations. The real roadmap starts with this acknowledgement. 

Vaccinations do not prevent virus transmission – according to the CDC

The director of the US Centre for Disease Control has confirmed on CNN that vaccines do not prevent the vaccinated from being infected and spreading COVID19.

See this short clip from the interview.

Which means that as a strategy to suppress or eliminate the virus, vaccinations don’t work. Further, vaccination passports and similar restrictions on the unvaccinated would be unnecessary and unjust discrimination.

Truman’s attitude has infected current political leaders to the point of madness

The buck stops here.

President Truman’s sign on his desk. He meant that he was responsible for the decisions and if things went wrong he couldn’t blame anyone else. (What a fantastic film emulsion. I wonder if that photo was shot on the famous Ferrania P30 film? The emulsion is back in production and I have some on order. ISO 80. Classic Italian film look. But, I digress…)

It’s a sentiment that is admirable in times of national emergency. But nearly two years down the track after COVID19 first emerged, there is no longer a national emergency. Or international emergency.

Responsibility for keeping the noses of the public clean should now be handed back to the individual owner of each nose. It is no longer a matter for any politician. Anywhere.

She should have known better

Katie Hopkins describes herself as a columnist, broadcaster and businesswoman. More commonly, she is described as a colourful media personality. The Australian newspaper reports today that she is in trouble with her latest media contract and also potentially with Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

The problem relates to Katie’s behaviour during hotel quarantine on arrival into Australia. As the Oz reports, Katie “admitted to breaking quarantine rules by taunting hotel staff and opening her door naked and without a face mask when her food was being delivered.”

Well, I can see the problem right there. No matter how frustrated you are at being quarantined in a hotel room, the staff are not to blame. It is only civil to treat the staff, doing their jobs, with respect. To be flaunting herself in that state is unkind and possibly distressing to many hotel workers. When opening the door to receive room service you must always be wearing a mask. Katie ought to have known better.

Failing on the job

The President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Khorshid, has failed one of the fundamental requirements of his role. At this link, he says that the lockdown in Sydney may have to stay in effect until everyone is vaccinated, ie. indefinitely. He says that since there are insufficient vaccine supplies to vaccinate everyone it is imperative people stop talking to each other, being close, breathing and coughing on each other. He made no mention of the fact that 100% vaccination rates will never happen, regardless of supply.

Now, some people may watch that news interview and think that the good doctor is giving considered medical advice. They could be excused for thinking that doctors are the best people to give medical advice. In some very limited circumstances, doctors are the best people to give medical advice. Those circumstances are limited to the treatment of one individual person to the exclusion of all other concerns. For example, it applies when you visit your GP, when your dentist is fixing your teeth, when you are on the operating table in surgery and that’s about it. When the health of the public in general is the subject, medical people are just like you and me – they have opinions but these opinions are no better or worse than anybody else’s opinion. All these medical experts advocating locking up citizens in the face of SARS-CoV-2 have no more authority than you or I do to stand up at that press conference. Thus, politicians hiding behind those medicos are cowardly in pretending a political decision to lock up citizens is actually a medical decision when it is nothing of the sort.

Dr Khorshid failed in his role not for any medical reason. He failed for political reasons. The AMA is a political organisation. Doctors don’t need the AMA to practise medicine. In fact, I believe that a large proportion of the country’s doctors are not even members of it. The AMA exists to lobby Government to advance its own political objectives. All professional organisations have similar objectives. By airing statements that many in the general public will see as variously ridiculous, extreme, laughable, unrealistic etc, he has just damaged the credibility and authority of the AMA. A key function of the role of President is to enhance the standing of the AMA, not detract from it. Can anybody explain how such an interview could enhance the AMA’s standing? I can’t. So, Dr Kharshid, let’s mark that interview as ‘Fail’.