BA.2.12.1, BA.4, BA.5, Omicron XE...Surely ONE Of These Is Scary?
Reality Check: Viruses Have Variants...Lots Of Variants.
Apparently the “XE” in Omicron XE stands for “Extended Edition”. At least, it should stand for that. According to the latest installment of the Pandemic Panic Narrative, recombinant variant Omicron XE causes patients to test positive for longer.
Professor Kinane, Leading Immunologist and Founding Scientist of Cignpost Diagnostics, told The Mirror that data is showing people testing positive for 10 or more days with this variant.
He warned this means the virus has the ability to spread more widely - and said this coupled with the scrapping of free testing could leave vulnerable groups even more vulnerable.
We should fear Omicron XE because it might hang around longer and cause more positive test results. We should be constantly testing and testing and always testing because one never knows when the next varient will emerge, or when Omicron XE will decide to make good on the threats we are told it poses to the public’s health.
Meanwhile, the trend of COVID-19 cases, including Omicron and Omicron XE, in the United Kingdom has been largely downward since the beginning of the year.
Last Month XE Was Just More Infectious
Omicron XE, readers will recall, was the recombinant variant the corporate media trundled out roughly a month ago, to combat waning fear over COVID-19. As evidenced by the lack of substantial media attention since, the Omicron XE wave hyped last month was not even a ripple.
Now we are told that Omicron XE is not merely more infectious, it is a more persistent and durable infection, and “could” be contagious for longer.
"Our current data is showing that many people are testing positive for 10 days or more rather than the 6 or 7 days we saw by frequent testing at the beginning of the Omicron wave, which means the virus has more opportunity to spread more widely and this may be BA-2 and XE’s transmissibility advantage.”
Of course, looking at the case trends for the UK, Omicron XE’s transmissibility “advantage” is of the “stealth” (i.e., largely non-existent) variety. Declining cases can by definition only be explained by fewer and fewer people getting sick.
OMG! Variants Everywhere!
Yet Omicron XE is merely one variant out of a seemingly endless procession of variants.
The omicron subvariants keep coming: Scientists in South Africa have identified BA.4 and BA.5, which have mutations that were seen in earlier variants and are associated with immune evasion. Caseloads there are rising. New laboratory research, posted online Sunday but not yet peer-reviewed, indicated that the emerging subvariants are adept at eluding the neutralizing antibodies seen in people who recovered from infections with the original omicron variant. The authors of the study concluded that BA.4 and BA.5 have the "potential to result in a new infection wave."
Reality check: that’s what RNA viruses (which includes most infectious respiratory viruses) do. As a single strand of genetic information, RNA viruses lack the “error checking” mechanisms of DNA viruses, and so mutate more frequently.
RNA viruses show high mutation frequencies partly because of a lack of the proofreading enzymes that assure fidelity of DNA replication. This high mutation frequency is coupled with high rates of replication reflected in rates of RNA genome evolution which can be more than a millionfold greater than the rates of the DNA chromosome evolution of their hosts. There are some disease implications for the DNA-based biosphere of this rapidly evolving RNA biosphere.
For either the corporate media or the medical “experts” to be surprised as the constant stream of SARS-CoV-2 variants is a level of virologic illiteracy that is quite at odds with their presumed postures of expertise. They should know better than this.
The “Wave” That’s Barely A Ripple
To let the corporate media tell it, all of these new and improved variants, sub-variants, and variants of variants are propagating endless waves of new infections in state after state.
Cases are trending up in most states and have increased by more than 50% compared with the previous week in Washington, Mississippi, Georgia, Maine, Hawaii, South Dakota, Nevada and Montana. In New York, more than a quarter of the state’s population is in a county with a “high” Covid-19 community level, where the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends indoor masking.
Reality check: if you have a penny, and you find another penny, you’ve doubled your money—but you still only have two cents.
A 50% rise of a small number of cases is a slightly larger number of cases. Is it a “wave”? Consider cases in New York State:
Or consider cases in just New York County:
Relative to last fall/winter’s Omicron wave, these latest rises in infections scarcely warrant the term “ripple”.
This “wave” is reduced further by the acknowledgement that hospitalizations do not track to cases. There is an increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, we are told, but we are also told that increase is a fraction of the increase in cases.
Average daily hospitalizations are up about 10% since last week, according to data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Particularly from the public health perspective, hospitalization rates are less impactful when they remain within overall hospital inpatient capacity, as is unambiguously true with New York’s COVID-19 hospitalization rates since the beginning of the year.
Similarly, when one looks at the CDC’s count of both cases and deaths—again, for example, in New York County, New York—one quickly sees the decline in the overall severity of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the year.
Look At ALL The Data
The moral of this story is that one has to examine all the relevant data: Case counts are fairly meaningless without also examining how many cases wind up in hospital, and how many cases resolve in death. Hospitalization rates need to factor in total hospital bed capacity and whether or not that capacity is close to being saturated. Percentage increases in cases, hospitalizations, or deaths are meaningless without providing as a baseline the absolute numbers of cases, hospitalizations, or deaths.
The Pandemic Panic Narrative is fueled almost entirely by select data points removed from all relevant context. Hype about Omicron XE, or BA.2.12.1, or BA.4 and BA.5, is deliberately divorced from the overall trends in COVID-19 cases for a state or region in order to create the appearance of crisis where none realistically exists. Such is the essence of propaganda.
The reality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is that it mutates into variants, and each new variant will have a varying level of transmissibility, pathogenecity, and virulence.
The reality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is also that it is an endemic pathogen. It will always be a part of the environment, each and every day. In urban areas especially, the number of infections is likely to never be zero.
The reality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is also that it will infect a number of people, it will make some subset of those severely ill, and it will kill some subset of those severely ill patients. So long as the virus exists, this will be true.
Yet the reality of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is also that the overwhelming majority of patients will recover. Even without the benefits of science and medicine, the odds of surviving infection are excellent for all but the most frail individuals. The continual emergence of new variants and new strains of the virus are not likely to alter this reality.
No one ever wants to be sick, yet everyone eventually gets sick. This is the reality not just of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but of all pathogens and all diseases.
Panic and hysteria over inevitable reality has never been a good solution for anything. It certainly is no solution for dealing with an endemic infectious respiratory pathogen such as the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
A shame the corporate media and medical “experts” fail to realize this.