When a professional golfer does epidemiology better than Fauci...
Golfer Phil Mickelson is known for his incredible short game. However, this past week, Mickelson was more interested in defining an endgame — to COVID, that is. While President Biden, Dr. Fauci, and others warn of a "winter of death," Mickelson has asked the question that came immediately to my mind when hearing of the high transmissibility but extremely low hospitalization and mortality rates of the new omicron variant:
Serious question since I'm not a dr. If omicron is contagious but not deadly (25,000 cases in Africa with no deaths), why try and control it? Why not let it go and let people get it and develop immunity? Especially for those who won't get vaccinated? Pls, no hate, I'm just curious.
I believe that Mickelson has hit the nail on the head. Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, in findings published online in The Journal of the American Medical Association, have found that breakthrough infections of the delta variant created "a robust immune response." Those researchers said the findings indicate that "the immune response is likely to be highly effective against other variants as the SARS-CoV-2 virus continues to mutate.
These findings suggest to the researchers that the omicron variant could create "super immunity" while presenting a far smaller percentage of very sick or dying individuals than seen in the delta or earlier variants. More research needs to be done into how this immunity would occur. However, the researchers are encouraged by the antibody levels from breakthrough cases — i.e., cases of infection in individuals after vaccination, which were shown to be 1,000% more effective than antibody levels demonstrated after two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
"You can't get a better immune response than this," said senior author Fikadu Tafese, an assistant professor of immunology and molecular biology at the Oregon institution. "These vaccines (referring to the existing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines) are very effective against severe disease. Our study suggests that individuals who are vaccinated and then exposed to a breakthrough infection would have super immunity."
Dr. Marcel Curlin of the same Oregon school says, "I think this speaks to an eventual endgame. It doesn't mean we're at the end of the pandemic, but it points to where we're likely to land. Once you're vaccinated and then exposed to the virus, you're probably going to be reasonably well protected from future variants. [This] implies that the long-term outcome is going to be a tapering-off of the severity of the worldwide epidemic."
What about the unvaccinated? Those folks have chosen to take their chances with the virus. But infection with the omicron variant likely will produce far less mortality and hospitalization than earlier strains. That's what we are seeing from Africa.
So why not let this new viral variant go about its business of finishing off the epidemic since it apparently can do so without high mortality rates? I believe there are many who would love to see this plague continue into the fall election season. This would allow many of the potential voter-fraud methods to be repeated from the questionable 2020 elections. I don't believe you have to be in the "black helicopter" crowd to have this belief. As far as I can tell, there are none circling above me.
I don't want to see a winter of death, and I certainly don't want to see people getting sick and dying. The solution put forth by Phil Mickelson is more likely to see folks get just slightly ill and then recover. If his suggestion is successful, I will chalk it up as Mickelson's seventh major victory to go with his six golf majors.
Image via Pxhere.
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