Is NSW Covid-19 peak an illusion?

This news article says it all,

Sydney’s Covid-19 outbreak may have already peaked after almost 12 weeks of lockdown, according to usually pessimistic epidemiologists.

NSW recorded 1,257 cases on Monday, down from 1,262 on Sunday and 1,599 on Saturday, as its vaccination rate reached nearly 47 per cent. 

Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said the reproduction rate in NSW – the number of people each infected person passes the virus onto – had now dropped to 1 after spending most of the outbreak at 1.3.

What is going to happen is that as more and more people get vaccinated, the reported (i.e. detected) case is going to trend down. There are going to be celebrations, as restrictions get lifted incrementally and freedom regained.

But I think we are being lulled into a mirage.

First, before I continue, you have to understand the concept of non-sterilising vaccines. I’ve written about it in this article and so I will not write too much about it here. Suffice to say, the current generation of Covid-19 vaccine is non-sterilising, which means it can reduce disease but cannot prevent infection. That means vaccinated people can still contract and spread Covid-19, even though they may not get very ill or even be asymptomatic. I have to impress upon you that with the Delta variant, both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are equally contagious at least in the initial stage of infection. However, vaccinated people will clear the virus much faster than unvaccinated people.

How to explain the falling case numbers?

To answer this question, I turn to Dr Gert Vanden Bossche. You can check his profile here. He is a preeminently qualified scientist. For months, he has been trying to sound the alarm in the way vaccination is done incorrectly, which will result in a major global health screw-up.

In his FAQ, someone asked,

Several countries claim they are beginning to see the success of their mass vaccination campaign and that enhanced vaccination rates are opening a bright perspective for people to plan their summer holidays. (How) can I verify whether this promise/ prediction holds true?

I’ll extract part of Dr Bossche’s answer:

There can be no doubt that ongoing mass vaccinations are now diminishing infection and disease rates in the population. However, we need to be very cautious as the decrease in infectious pressure primarily relates to people who have not been vaccinated yet! This is because testing is not routinely, let alone systematically, performed on vaccinees. However, there is meanwhile ample evidence that asymptomatic people can shed virus as well. It has been shown on multiple occasions that especially vaccinees who become infected with variants shed and transmit Sars-CoV-2. Consequently, reported infection rates are currently underestimated. And, of course, the more the mass vaccination program progresses, the more this is going to be the case. So, the underestimation pertains to unreported infection of healthy, i.e., asymptomatic subjects, an ever increasing part of whom consists of vaccinees. This critical element is missing from the forecast currently proposed by a number of national health authorities.

Dr Bossche’s answer can be quite obtuse. So I will try and explain it as simply as I can.

First, you need to understand that with the current non-sterilising vaccine, Covid-19 can still spread among vaccinated individuals. The difference is that vaccinated people may have much milder symptoms, of which some may even be asymptomatic.

So, let’s say you got vaccinated, but then subsequently get infected with Covid-19. Assuming that you are healthy and young, you are probably not going to show any symptoms. Since you are not showing any symptoms, you will not be going for a Covid-19 test. That means your Covid-19 infection is going to be undetected and therefore, not going to be counted in the daily reported case numbers.

As the proportion of vaccinated people approaches the majority, the number of undetected Covid-19 cases are going to be increased. Therefore, as the proportion of unvaccinated people continue to shrink, the absolute number of detected Covid-19 is going to eventually shrink as well. Since only the detected Covid-19 cases are counted daily reported case numbers, it will give the illusion that the peak has reached.

However, as the Covid-19 continue to spread in the community, more and more unvaccinated people are going to come in contact with asymptomatically infected vaccinated people. With the government using vaccine passports to give freedom to vaccinated people, you can be sure that vaccinated people are going to spread Covid-19 among themselves undetected. As more and more vaccinated people get infected, the likelihood of an unvaccinated individual coming into contact with an asymptomatically infected vaccinated individual will increase. This is when you see the daily case numbers rise up again, and most of them will be unvaccinated individuals (which includes children under 12).

As more and more unvaccinated gain natural immunity, the numbers will eventually peak before trending down again.

Cases will then increase among vaccinated

At this point, the unvaccinated are at a disadvantage. But if I understand Dr Bossche correctly, there will come a day when the tables will turn against the vaccinated.

You see, when vaccinated people get infected with Covid-19, their bodies do not get the chance to develop natural immunity against Covid-19. Natural immunity is much more robust in the sense that it can recognise Covid-19 viruses more generically. In other words, natural immunity will be much better at recognising future unknown mutations and variants of the virus. Unfortunately, vaccinated immunity is not as sophisticated as natural immunity in terms of recognising future unknown mutations and variants of the virus.

According to Dr Bossche, because we have non-sterilising vaccines, a large pool of infected vaccinated people provides a breeding ground for the virus practice mutating into different variants. Eventually, given enough time, a mutation will emerge that can defeat existing vaccines.

Think of the implications.

Since vaccinated individuals do not have the chance to develop natural immunity, they are going to be vulnerable to vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus. Unvaccinated individuals, if they have been previously infected and survive, will have natural immunity against the vaccine-resistant mutations of the virus.

This is when we see the tables turn against vaccinated. This is when we will see another wave of the virus, as detected case numbers among vaccinated people climb. By the time health authorities realise what is happening, it is possible we will see the imposition of lockdowns again, even as early as 2022. At the same time, the second generation of the vaccine may have been developed and yet another major logistic effort will be undertaken to distribute it to countries around the world.

Hopefully, by then we will have sterilising vaccines and/or establish treatment protocols and drugs to deal with the virus. On the other hand, if we are going to have more of the same non-sterilising vaccines without adequate development in treatment protocols and drugs, then the agony of Covid-19 is going to be extended further, destroying more lives and livelihood on the way.

About Terence Kam

Terence’s profile picture is made up of the two archaic Chinese characters for the word 'inspiration' (灵感 or 靈感). The literal Chinese translation of these two characters means 'spirit perception', which is very apt for the meaning of 'inspirit'.

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