Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Immunology, vaccinology, epidemiology 101

Australians have become the world's nuttiest nation when it comes to their response to Covid-19, a fact that I have expected because of their extremely risky zero-Covid strategy.

There have been some lockdowns (especially in Melbourne) in the recent year despite the near-absence of the disease. There was always a risk that these extremely costly restrictions only postpone all the events by a certain amount of time. In recent months, most Australians were ordered to stay at home. They can only leave for "essential" reasons. Helicopters, soldiers, and barricades have been deployed everywhere to maintain the prisoner status for millions of Australians. $5,000 fines must be paid by everybody who is declared to lie to the Covid Gestapo personnel or who is seen next to 2 other people, and so on. Australia is building a Covid concentration camp in Mickleham. Maskless girls were pepper sprayed by cops for no good reason. Victoria's premier Dan Andrews has banned drinking of alcohol without a face mask. A very large majority of Australians seem totally unable – and, indeed, unwilling – to remove these sociopaths from power, e.g. do what the Czechs and Slovaks did with the Czechs' de facto leader in 1942.

For some time, it could have been possible that due to its "faraway island" character, Australia could maintain the zero-Covid conditions by fortifying the border and heavily tracing the small number of cases. In June 2021, I already knew and clearly wrote that the cases in Austria were going to skyrocket, despite the increasingly insane restrictions. Of course, I was right. The moderate lockdowns may only reduce the spreading (\(R_0\)) by ~10% and the ultradraconian Australian ones by ~50% but even that is far from enough because \(R_0=5\) or \(8\) for delta. I think that every sentence in my June article holds, including the estimate that the cases would approximately double if not triple every week. These fascism-style policies are absolutely futile.

Meanwhile, the spreading is quasi-exponential and the exponential increase could slow down or transition to an exponential decrease when the vaccination level is high. At least that is what gullible people are promised all over the world. The only problem is that this very assertion is just completely wrong. Because the vaccines aren't 100% effective and yes, Pfizer is only ~50% effective against delta, even the 100% vaccination of a nation isn't enough to stop the exponential growth of the cases! It's because the 100% vaccination fraction means ~50% immune fraction but because \(R_0\gg 2\), that is simply not enough to turn the increase into a decrease. At the bottom, I will explain these mathematical assertions a bit more slowly.

Again, I repeat my prediction that most Australians will have gone through Covid-19, whatever the hysterical fascist politicians do, and even the extremely incomplete testing will have revealed hundreds of thousands of "cases", whether they like it or not (I estimate that only 10% of the positive Australians are getting a positive test now).

On June 18, I also discussed the basic fact that the delta variant isn't a serious disease at all. It really is a type of a common cold virus, like some other coronaviruses (and other viruses) because it causes a running nose which removes the viruses before they occupy the lungs (where it becomes serious). The running nose also makes it more contagious. In the U.K., they saw the all time peak of Covid in January, with 60,000 positive PCR tests a day (a 7-day average) and over 1,200 Covid deaths a day (also a 7-day average). The July peak saw as many as 47,000 positive PCR tests a day (a 7-day average) which almost matched the January peak but the Covid deaths per day peaked at 91 (7-day average) and (angering some hysterical Coronazis who have contributed their aggressive and completely wrong comments on TRF) I had correctly predicted that they wouldn't go above 100 (the peak was 91; note that 1,600 Britons die without Covid every day).

Some countries like Denmark finally realized that what is left just isn't a serious disease that justifies any extraordinary measures. So Denmark has lifted the face mask duty, even in the public transportation and shops, and will remove absolutely all blanket Covid restrictions from October 1st, the Parliament decided. More than a year later, they join the Swedes; Sweden has below 15,000 deaths and the rate of dying has dropped to nearly zero and this is the final one. The Danish lawmakers' decision occurred despite the fact that the vaccination level isn't very high in Denmark and they don't show clear signals of a decrease of the (small) number of cases. But it is simply obvious that Covid-19 ceased to be a major disease in the hospitals. In Czechia, 46 out of 26,000 hospital beds host a Covid-positive person and only 14 of them are in serious condition. You must be an utter brainwashed hysterical nutcase if you fail to see that Covid-19 has ceased to be a major health issue at the national level in similar countries. Note that the rate of dying in Czechia is currently about 10% below the normal and this "deficit of deaths" seems to be increaasing and may continue for a few years!

The crazy reactions by Australians and most other nations result from the years of the far left indoctrination that has turned the nations into whining brainwashed sissies that are dependent on the government and that are dreaming about an even deeper dependence on the government (and the gr@tinist fear of a 0.01 °C warming per year was the most recent previous example of the ways in which whole nations have completely lost their minds). I think that a majority of Australians literally want to be treated as naughty kids who must be banned from doing almost everything. The 99% deceitful Covid propaganda that is being shoved down the nations' throats by the scumbags in the "media" (including carefully selected epidemiologists who are willing to say lies every day) contradicts totally basic scientific facts and principles. Some of the nasty creatures that spread these lies and hysteria intentionally, many of them greatly benefit from these lies. They know that those things are lies but they are convenient lies for them to become more powerful and wealthier.

Meanwhile, some of the liars in the media and most of the gullible listeners really trust all this stunning garbage. They have failed to learn some basics of biology – immunology, vaccinology, epidemiology, evolution, ecology (in the old, not so ideological sense when it was a very similar science as economics!), the logic of Nature as an arena of a permanent struggle.

OK, so let us write a few basics, in plain English.

First, life on Earth. Life is a system of complex processes. Life forms may imperfectly reproduce themselves. Most of the information about the future shape (and innate behavior) of life forms is stored in the genetic information, the DNA/RNA molecules (which get reproduced often, and descendants carry a slightly and randomly modified genetic code). Besides reproducing, they need to get some food/nutrients and/or air and/or water which are necessary for the survival, growth, and reproduction. Those DNA/RNA codes that do these things well will unavoidably spread, others may go extinct, and life is therefore full of competition and fights between the eaters and the eaten, between two competing eaters of some meal, and many other things. Multicellular organisms are composed of many cells, each cell behaves like a unicellular organism (such as a bacteria). In multicellular organisms like mammals, the cells cleverly collaborate. A multicellular organism is a collection of previously individualist cells whose cooperation got so intimate that we view them as an integrated body. Note that cells of a single human body physically touch; the people in the most collectivist societies obey the social distancing rules instead ;-) which prevents them from most types of the useful cooperation.

A body generally needs to defend itself against invaders, organisms with a very different genetic codes, especially the harmful ones. The life-like pathogens are viruses and bacteria. Viruses are small (20-200 nanometers, 500 nm at most) and they only contain some genetic code (often in RNA molecules) that wants to be reproduced. But viruses have no stomachs, lungs, or any microscopic counterparts of the organs needed for the "everyday life". They don't even have reproductive organs. They outsource even their own reproduction which must be done by a host. Like a computer virus (which is also not a computer, and we might even say it is not even a full-blown app), viruses force the "productive factories" within the host's cells to produce the viral RNA and proteins, too. Bacteria are larger, around 0.5-2 micrometers are 2 dimensions while the 3rd one may sometimes be as long as 5-10 microns (a filament). Those do have the microorgans that resemble the stomachs but the effect on the humans may be very similar to viruses, despite the differences in the microscopic mechanisms.

The immunity system works like a sophisticated army and/or police with many jobs. Most of the processes happen in the blood stream. It is because the blood is liquid (well, the liquid part of the blood is called the blood plasma and is yellowish; the rest are the cells, objects that are about 1 micron in size or larger). Because the blood is liquid, processes happen more quickly than in the solid parts of the body. So that is where the fast battles (e.g. against a disease) take place. The solid parts of the body are just "bounties" that the invaders or the immunity system may reclaim for a longer period of time but the fight about "who wins" can't really occur there because molecules aren't moving much in the solids. OK, so to discuss the immune reactions, we are talking about intruders that appear in the blood stream.

Quite generally, a pathogen (virus or bacterium in this case) is identified according to a molecule on the surface – a piece of the surface shape. Such molecules on the surface of the intruder are called antigens. Now there is a nice couple – antigen-antibody. An antibody is a corresponding molecule produced by the human organs that has the complementary shape to an antigen, so that they may "match" just like a key and a lock. These two "anti" things are analogous, indeed, but the antigen is an evil alien while the antibody is your good employee. When an antibody (something that your immunity system produces, and it is even smaller than a virus, it is really a somewhat large molecule) is "inserted" into the corresponding antigen, the whole pathogen (the antigen is a part of its surface) is destroyed, often literally broken to pieces. Sometimes it just ceases to operate. Sometimes it is not destroyed at all but the extra attached antibody on the surface makes it possible to be detected by other cells in the immunity system.

Just to reveal the punch line. When things work fine, the damaged or captured pathogen is attached to macrophages, a large molecule that plays the role of a large bus transporting the captured and handcuffed illegal aliens out of the body. Macrophages are a type of a white blood cell, too. I am focusing on the most important ones but there are really many components of the immune system, cells, organs, and other things. They play the role of cops who identify and accompany the criminal at various places, so that it may be treated by other cops, or cops who sit in the office and remember the database of criminals and similar things. It is remarkable that such police-like mechanisms have naturally evolved in Nature. But Nature has had billions of years to do so. The evolution of the complex immune systems was somewhat analogous to the evolution of the police bodies but everything was microscopic (and therefore liberated from the "human" problems with the cops).

You should imagine that your blood has the antigens against all conceivable "foreign bodies" – with all possible shapes – except for your own cells, to avoid the friendly fire (the production of antibodies that would attack your own cell is the only thing that really has to be suppressed). But the concentration of the right antibodies for a given disease is low. It must be adaptively increased.

I need to mention the B cells and the memory cells. OK, B cells are the white blood cells that actually produce the antibodies (antibodies are just molecules, not cells). Like in the free markets, the B cells produce those antigens that seem needed (pathogens with the corresponding antigens represent the demand for particular antigens). The production of antibodies starts by the "activation" by the antigen; at that moment, the B cell becomes a plasmablast. By observing the supply, the B cells adapt the demand. The antigens may last for some time but they are still not quite a long term memory of a disease. You better pick the memory cells for that. There are two types of memory cells, memory B cells and memory T cells. B and T stand for the organ where they are created, "bone marrow" (CZ: kostní dřeň) and "thymus" (CZ: brzlík) in the chest. I am adding the Czech names of rare words to specifically help Czech readers (and to allow English-speaking biologists to learn new words LOL). They sit in the blood stream for decades and remember the shape of the antigens that were relevant in the past.

Much of the immune system is "adaptive" because the precise composition of the antibodies and memory cells and other cells is being transformed according to the properties of the antigens that needed to be wrestled with. The adaptive immune system includes both the humoral immunity (that is one found in liquids so the real players must be molecules, mainly antibodies) and the cell-mediated immunity (the non-antibody ways to attack pathogens involve phagocytes, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, and cytokines).

Here you see some typical graphs of Covid-related quantities as a function of time, from a 2020 article in Nature. You are exposed to the infection and in the first two days, only the viral dose grows in the upper respiratory tract (URT which means the nose and throat) where it is not too dangerous. Three days after the infection, the concentration starts to be significant in the lungs where it is more dangerous. 4 days after the infection, the dose is high enough for symptoms to emerge. The immunity system kicks in, the cells including the T cells are produced early on, and only afterwards, antigens are made by the B cells etc. The antibodies stay in the medium term; the memory T cells stay for decades or a lifetime, they are ready to quickly restart the production of the antigens against the same pathogens that they already remember.


OK, a vaccine is just a training of the white blood cells i.e. a training of cops (the immunity system) optimized against a particular enemy. It is a drill. An antigen or some aspect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is introduced into the blood stream (or some dressed cop that already pretends that he has already met the famous virus), and the white blood cells are produced selectively to respond to this (fabricated) intruder. There are many strategies to develop vaccines – the "threat of Covid" may be emulated by injecting different parts of the virus (or the cells that the presence of the virus would cause). A damaged introder (whole virus or bacterium) is the classical type of a vaccine.

The advantage of a vaccine relatively to the disease is that a cop that is dressed as Osama bin Laden doesn't necessarily kill many people so the standard disease is avoided.

The disadvantage of a vaccine is that a cop dressed as Osama bin Laden is still just a caricature, only represents Osama or Covid in some respects. This leads to a problem: it is easy to misidentify the intruder, especially if the Covid-19 virus starts to look a bit differently after a mutation. It is a similar problem as the identification of a fingerprint according to a small piece of it. If you train cops (white blood cells) to be very aggressive, they may start to attack objects that aren't really hostile, like your own blood cells (and that is why vaccines may cause blood clots and ischemia [failure of blood to circulate into some organs or their parts], among other things); or the cops may be told to be cautious and avoid the friendly fire. In that case, the vaccine may be insufficiently strong to help.

This is a trade-off, there exists an optimum amount of the vaccine and other things but in principle, you just can't avoid the conclusion that the actual survival of the disease gives you a better and more accurate immunity (a better idea about the intruder and its descendants, like the delta variant) than any vaccine. For this reason, you can't be quite surprised that the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine is said to be just 42% against delta. To get the immunity, it is better to go through Covid-19; for some people, this promise of a better immunity also means a risk of death within weeks.

Finally, epidemiology

Epidemiology is the science that becomes relevant when viruses start to jump from one human body (or another victim's body) to another. What we're interested in is the question whether the dose in the population increases or decreases. \(R_0\), the basic reproduction number, is the number of new patients that are infected by one patient of the disease before he gets healthy and non-contagious (or dead; or perfectly isolated in a hospital bed). If \(R_0\gt 1\), the number of infected people will exponentially increase; if \(R_0\lt 1\), the number will exponentially decrease.

However, the original \(R_0\) for a population that totally lacks immunity (or careful responses) is generally reduced by warm (or wet) weather; by distancing policies and perhaps face masks etc.; and especially by the immunity of a fraction of the population that reduces the average number of people whom you infect.

If you are spreading Covid, you would infect \(R_0\) people during your Covid tenure in average (again, even that "initial" \(R_0\) depends on the season, density of people, and their usual behavior). However, if the fraction \(f\) of the population (or demographics, optimized to accurately represent the people whom you are likely to meet) is already immune (the immunity is 100% from a proper survival of the full-blown disease; but only 42% of the Pfizer-vaccinated ones will be immune against delta), then you don't infect \(R_0\) people but only \(R_0(1-f)\) people i.e. only the fraction that lacked the immunity, that is why there is the factor of \(1-f\). If you want the original \(R_0\gt 1\) to be reduced to \(1\) or below one, you see that you must have\[ 1-f = \frac{1}{R_0}, \qquad f = 1 - \frac{1}{R_0}. \] OK, so if delta has \(R_0\) between five and eight within a population (with a certain behavior and density; in a certain season) assuming no pre-existing immunity, the immune fraction must surpass 80.0-87.5% for the exponential increase of the number of infected people to transition to an exponential decrease, the moment at which you should already agree that the community enjoys herd immunity. Because Pfizer is the dominant vaccine and only gives some 42% of the vaccinated people full immunity, you may see that even a complete vaccination fails to be enough actually stop the exponential growth. That is why Australia will see an exponential growth despite its vaccination campaign (which isn't changing much about the epidemiological situation, much like the draconian policies don't change much) up to the moment when a significant fraction of the Australians (yes, indeed, a large majority) will have been exposed to the actual Covid-19 disease! Australia could have only avoided this scenario by "waiting forever"; or by "waiting for a long time when a much more effective and robust vaccine emerges".

The blue face masks at the typical places (not at home) may reduce \(R_0\) by some two percent; I also thought it was more but I no longer think so. The two-part N95 respirators may get you a bit higher, perhaps up to 10 percent. Moderate lockdown-like policies may reduce \(R_0\) by 10% or at most 20%, draconian Australian lockdowns by 50%, and the vaccination of 60% of the population reduces \(R_0\) by 30%. NONE of these things (and not even their combination) is enough to reduce \(R_0\approx 5-8\) below one. That is why you simply have to get an exponential increase and it is ultimately the natural immunity of the actual Covid-19 survivors that is decisive for taming the growth of the disease and the disease itself (because the exponential decrease comes after the exponential increase once the disease is tamed).

Every person on TV or in newspapers who is telling you that vaccination is more important for the stopping of the Covid-19 disease than the growth of the number of survivors is simply lying to your eyes, everyone who believes this stuff fails the basic tests of Epidemiology 101. About 60% of the stuff above was actually taught to us at the elementary school; we have actually learned many more details about the immunity system and other things. These are really basic insights and the success of the pro-vaccination, pro-lockdown, and pro-hysteria propaganda also proves that the biology classes at the schools have been useless for majorities of most Western nations because if they have understood at least the basic things, they just couldn't buy all these lies.

No comments:

Post a Comment