Covid Update, Spring 2021

Published: March 30, 2021 (upd.)
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An update on virus origin, vaccines, early treatment, masks, long covid, variants, and mortality.

A) Facts about covid-19

The fully referenced 20 facts about covid-19 have been updated. In the section below the updated summary, there are 16 updated diagrams, followed by all recent SPR articles on covid-19.

Read more: Facts about covid-19 or in German: Fakten zu Covid-19

B) Origin of SARS-CoV-2

The summary of evidence regarding the origin of the novel coronavirus has also been fully updated. Based on current evidence, the Wuhan Institute of Virology remains the most likely source, but a natural origin or a more complex, geostrategic background cannot be excluded. As in previous pandemics, the WHO is primarily engaged in PR activities.

Read more: On the origin of SARS-CoV-2

C) Vaccines

Real-world studies confirm that vaccine effectiveness is high in people up to about 70 years, but the level of effectiveness in older people remains uncertain. Moreover, neutralization achieved by current mRNA vaccines against the ‘Brazilian’ and ‘South African’ variants is already 10 to 100 times lower; therefore, regular ‘booster shots’ will likely become necessary.

Reported post-vaccination deaths in the USA and Europe are approaching 5000. The real figure may be even higher as there is a substantial reporting backlog. Contrary to media reports, deaths after mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) are higher than after AstraZeneca. Several hundred cases of blindness, deafness and miscarriages after covid vaccinations have also been reported.

US physician Dr. J. Patrick Whelan had warned the US FDA already in early December that vaccines based on the coronavirus spike protein may themselves trigger symptoms of severe systemic covid, including blood clots, pulmonary embolism and brain inflammation, even in children and young adults, who normally fight off a coronavirus infection in the early stages.

According to New York attorney Aaron Siri, governments and employers are not (yet) permitted to require covid vaccinations, as covid vaccines have not yet been fully authorized: they only received an “emergency use authorization”. For the same reason, health insurers view covid vaccines as “experimental” and may decline cost coverage in case of adverse events.

Read more: Covid vaccines: Post-vaccination deaths and The “Vaccine Passport” Agenda

Covid RNA vaccines: Reduction in neutralization of variants (x-fold reduction). P.1/P.2: “Brazilian” variants; B.1.351.V1-3: “South African” variants (Source: Garcia-Beltran)

D) Early treatment

Note: Patients are asked to consult a doctor.

The covid-19 early treatment protocol has been updated and now includes budesonide (a corticosteroid asthma spray) as well as PVI-based mouthwashes and nasal sprays, all of which have been found to be effective against coronavirus infection in several small studies.

In a recent 15-minute testimony, US professor Dr Peter McCullough, lead author of a landmark paper on covid early treatment, emphasized the importance of ambulatory multi-drug treatment in high risk patients to inhibit viral replication, disease progression, and severe covid complications. The late-treatment strategy adopted in many Western countries (“therapeutic nihilism”) may have been one of the most consequential mistakes of the entire pandemic.

Indeed, even the very expensive monoclonal antibodies were found to be totally ineffective in hospitalized patients, but highly effective in early treatment. However, some monoclonal antibodies have already lost their effectiveness against some of the new coronavirus variants.

Read more: On the Treatment of Covid-19

E) Long covid

According to the latest, most solid studies, about 2% to 10% of people report post-acute symptoms lasting longer than three months. The good news is that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) is much less common than initially assumed. Unfortunately, many long covid studies lack PCR or antibody confirmation, a control group, and a symptom severity score. This makes it rather difficult to draw firm conclusions on the magnitude of this issue.

Read more: On post-acute covid (“long covid”)

F) Masks

The fact that masks don’t work against influenza-like pandemics has been known since the “Spanish flu” in 1918/19, and has been confirmed many times since. However, the coronavirus pandemic for the first time has shown that even FFP2/N95 mask mandates make no difference at all:

Covid cases in Bavaria (FFP2/N95 mandate) vs. Germany overall (DaFeid/ARD/RKI)

G) New virus variants

Some studies initially claimed that the British coronavirus variant is more deadly than the original virus variant (“Kent Covid is up to 100% deadlier than original virus”). At the time, SPR noted that these claims were based on very weak evidence and are unlikely to be correct.

A new study by Public Health England now confirms that the British variant is not deadlier than the original virus. The study claims, however, that the British variant increases the risk of hospitalization by 30%. But this figure, too, is based on poor evidence and is most likely a statistical artifact, as the influence of age, comorbidities and seasonal effects is much larger.

Read more: British variant not more deadly and  Coronavirus Mutations: An Update

H) Global covid lethality and mortality

By the end of March 2021, there were close to 3 million covid deaths in close to 8 billion people. At a global infection attack rate of 10% to 30%, this results in an average global covid lethality (IFR) of 0.1% to 0.35% and a global covid mortality of about 0.035%.

By comparison, the 1918 flu pandemic had a global mortality of about 2.3% (40 million deaths in 1.8 billion people). In sub-Saharan Africa, tuberculosis and malaria alone each (!) claimed fifty to a hundred times more years of life in 2020 than covid-19 did.

In Western countries, covid lethality is higher than the global average; however, about 50% of covid deaths occurred in nursing homes, which encompass only about 1% of the population. Thus, IFRs in the non-nursing home population typically range between 0.3% and 0.6%.

The physical protection of nursing homes failed in most Western countries, but early and prophy­lactic treatment, though rarely applied, could often reduce mortality by about 50% to 80%.

Read more: Covid mortality: a global overview and Covid vs. the flu, revisited

Belgium: Covid IFRs in the entire population vs. non-nursing home population (Molenberghs)

I) Sensitivity of antibody tests

A recent study compared, for the first time, the real-world sensitivity of various coronavirus antibody assays. The study found that, six months after an infection, the sensitivity in non-hospitalized patients ranged from an excellent 98% (e.g. the Roche assay) to just 30% (e.g. the widely used Abbott assay). Thus, within just half a year, a serological study that uses the Abbott assay may miss two thirds of mild infections; after one year, it may already miss 90% of mild infections. (Peluso et al.)

Sensitivity of various coronavirus antibody assays (Peluso et al)

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