Australia at major risk from resistant COVID variants by late 2021.
COVID is far more dangerous than I realised. 5th April 2021
Note: COVID updates from 18/4/2017 are here
Until I watched Anne de Gheest’s 2/April/21 COVID research update. @ADeGheest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5H_EYAMnGp8 last evening (3/April/21), I was starting to feel that by mid 2021, the Western developed world would be starting to “get back to ‘normal’”, because COVID vaccinations were rolling out very rapidly in the USA and UK and Europe was rapidly escalating their vaccination program.
Now I am starting to think that it might be something closer to end of 2022 or maybe even later - and the cost to deal with COVID will be far higher than I had been expecting.
And I am now realising that Long-COVID maybe an even bigger problem than the initial COVID inflections.
Key slides from Anne’s presentation are here
Anne's Twitter page is here https://twitter.com/ADeGheest
Anne's 2/April/2021 Covid epidemiology update is here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vkv-nxKG-hc
In the epidemiology update, Anne is saying that the Brazlian P1 variant is circulating in California. She also talks a fair bit about the UK variant driving the COVID surge in the USA's north eastern states and in mainland Europe.
This is also worth watching
7/April/21 Additional important reading.
You might also note Eric Topol co-authored article in Nature Magazine ( https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6531/759/tab-pdf , https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1379159370471153666 ) where Eric explains that while the initial COVID virus was “evasion-light”, thus enabling vaccines to be developed very quickly, there is a very real risk that a COVID variant that is “evasion-strong” may emerge, so that COVID may develop what is known as “immune escape” – very serious. One of the real risks is “Laboratory studies suggest the potential for immune escape with at least one of these (UK, South African, Brazilian) variants”.
On Thursday 8th/April/21 it was announced that all people under age 50 recommended to have the Pfizer vaccine
On the night of Thursday 8th/April/, 20million more doses of Pfizer vaccine was ordered - for delivery in Q42021. This necessarily will slow down the rollout of vaccine to Australians. And maybe the Q4 Pfizer vaccines will be an updated vaccine to deal with the South African and Brazilian COVID variants more effectively as well. With an mRNA vaccine, Pfizer/BioNTech should be able to deliver an updated vaccine well before then.
And Australia is now going to keep its borders closed until 2022.
I think these quick decisions are a rational reaction to the latest COVID research above that I published on 5April2021. So I think that is a positive thing.
We were also reminded on Friday that Australia also has 51million Novavax COVID vaccine ordered with expected delivery (assuming approved) commencing in June 2021. And testing of the Novavax vaccine seems to be indicating similar levels of effectiveness as the 2 mRNA vaccines at this point.
Clearly, Australia must continue to adapt its COVID strategy as the nature of the COVID problem changes.
But we can already see that in Q4CY2021 at the latest, Australia needs to be reimmunising older Australians with updated vaccines to deal with the latest COVID variants.
Vaccinated Australians will be able to travel overseas.
What has gone wrong with Australia's vaccination program? The rollout is very slow. As Normal war points out ( https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/coronacast/lets-push-the-reset-button-on-the-vaccine-rollout/13298272 ), what this is likely to mean is that over coming months, most developed countries will be opening international travel (particularly for vaccinated travellers), but Australia will still be comparatively un-vaccinated ..... This creates 2 problems. First, other economies will be getting back to "normal" while Australia cannot. Second, Australia's population will be very vulnerable if one of the new variants gets loose in Australia.
It is the new and coming COVID variant's that wil now dictate how this pandemic unfolds, but it now seems the humanity might be fighting this virus for at least some years yet - and it could get very ugly yet before it is over.
See comments above from Eric Topol about risk of a COVID variant developing "immune escape" capacity. 7/April update above.
Also see above, comments from Professor Osterholm. 7/April update above
6/4/21 Moderna dramatically increases COVID vaccine production.
Adenovirus vector COVID vaccines may all have a "blood clotting issue".
Both the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine are adenovirus vector COVID vaccines.
"Cerebral vein thrombosis (CVST) w/ J&J vaccine in 6 young women (ages 18-48) among 6.8 million dosed follows the pattern of Astra Zeneca (222 cases in 34 million of very rare clotting events), implicating adenovirus vector link"
"Federal authorities on Tuesday recommended that states stop using Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine while an investigation is conducted into six serious cases of clotting problems — one of which was fatal — that were reported among women who received the vaccine. The blood clots are similar to those reported by several European countries after use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. And they are similar to an event that occurred during Johnson & Johnson’s U.S.-based clinical trial, an event that led to a temporary pause in that trial last fall. "
Second Australian case of blood clots likely linked to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination, TGA says
"The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), in a statement, said the woman was in hospital receiving treatment, and was in a stable condition. A panel of expert advisers to the TGA met last night and found the blood clots were similar to cases seen in Europe and the United Kingdom, because it included significant blood clots in the veins and a low blood platelet count."
"AstraZeneca blood clot concern sees Australian government name Pfizer as preferred vaccine for adults under 50"
"Evidence from more vaccines that override concerns about the B.1.351 (501Y.V2, identified in South Africa) variant, which has the most immune evasion property of any of the variants seen to date (via lab assays)
"The spectrum of immune evasiveness compiled from lab study reports, with B.1.351 having the most observed to date, yet responsive to vaccines, and cross-reactivity observed for antibodies vs. this variant to others"
Useful summary of the war with COVID variants.
Eric Topol - "Variants May Not Be So Scary"
The United States is starting a 4th wave, predominantly related to the B.1.1.7 variant (identified in the UK). But here's why I'm optimistic
Australian Dept of Health summary of AstraZeneca Blood Clotting issue.
"Pfizer CEO believes third COVID vaccine dose may be needed between six and 12 months after vaccination"
The CEO of Pfizer says the pharmaceutical company's COVID-19 vaccine recipients will "likely" need a third dose between six to 12 months after full vaccination, followed by an annual shot.
boosters were expected to become a regular part of life for years to come, as variants continue to spread.
Even if that protection lasts far longer than six months, experts have said that rapidly spreading variants of the coronavirus and others that may emerge could lead to the need for regular booster shots similar to annual flu shots.
The Pfizer CEO's comments immediately above, simply recognise the reality that COVID variants will be imposing on our community.
Because none of the current vaccines are particularly effective against the South African and Brazilian variants (with the AstraZeneca vaccine being by far the worst among the Western vaccines), opening Australian borders too soon would create a very high risk of introducing these variants into our community, while most Australians are either not vaccinated, or are simply vaccinated with a vaccine that is not particularly effective in protecting against these variants.
It is patently obvious, that it should be urgent for that something much better than AstraZeneca must be sourced the Australian's over age 50. With these new variants, AstraZeneca does not cut the mustard any more - so the AstraZeneca vaccine can only be treated as a short-term band-aid, until better solution for be secured for thw over-50s community.
Borders cannot be opened until this is fixed - otherwise a lot of older Australians will die.
This is the government current position on opening the borders for people who have been vaccinated. It seem s like a high risk strategy to me. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-04-15/covid-vaccinated-australians-could-be-allowed-overseas-travel/100073168 I would like to see the details about how the government thinks they can keep the new variants out of Australia under this new proposal.
Risk of a COVID variant developing Vaccine Escape.
Appendix A. USA’s 3rd COVID wave begins – driven by UK strain of COVID.