Mon 2021-Sep-27

Today I got shot (for the 6th time!)

Tagged: COVID / PharmaAndBiotech / Politics

Today I got shot. Again. For the sixth time this year!

What? Again?!

We’ve done this a couple of times now, right? I struggled through getting the first COVID-19 shot when they were hard to get, and then the second shot which was hard to schedule but easy otherwise.

I had hoped that would be enough. If we had all vaccinated (and by “all” I mean all of humanity), and done it fast, then it would have been enough. But… no. We did it slowly, dragging our feet at every opportunity. We encouraged various knotheaded reasons to hesitate, resist, and defy vaccination. I am so tired of having to be the adult in the room who tolerates knotheads and has to explain gently, over and over and over!

Israeli data: Delta is the only strain that matters, and it's nasty The result? Delta.

We bred an entirely new strain of SARS-CoV-2, which is just viciously virulent, outcompeting all other strains, and infecting the unvaccinated like mad. The fact that here at Chez Weekend, as vaccinated persons, we have to put up with increased exposure risk due to unvaccinated knotheads just galls me. Even more, it galls me that people are dying from a preventable disease, because they are victims of right-wing disinformation, self-inflicted as it may be.

I was a bit mixed in my reactions to the last couple week’s decisions from the FDA & CDC simultaneously promoting and limiting boosters:

  • On the one hand, it seems blunt-trauma-obvious that we’re all better off getting the unvaccinated to be vaccinated in the first place, whether in the US or around the world.
  • On the other hand, I’d feel a lot safer with a personal booster even though I know a thing or two about the Simpson’s Paradox effect that is making it look like vaccine efficacy is fading more than it really is.

Still… maybe I can just overcome these mild misgivings and take the booster.

The Vaccine Defiance Stupidity is Nakedly Partisan

People have heads full of the most bizarre misinformation and confusion. For example:

Dying unvaxed pt asks for booster

It’s important to realize that we’re not all like that. It’s very, very concentrated on the right. Republicans are doing this to themselves, and the media is helping them along by treating them so gently and respectfully while they do stupid things.

Boehlert: Media ignore the right-wing zombies As Eric Boehlert writes at PressRun [1], the problem is that we’ve been way too gentle with the disinformation peddlers and even with their victims. We shouldn’t use gentle terms like “hesitant” or “skeptical” any more to describe them, but instead earthier, rougher, and more honest language. It’s not just “disinformation”, it’s outright brainwashing and propaganda. (Just as we should have called Trump “liar”, but didn’t in the name of a decorum that was most certainly not reciprocated.)

Apparently Boehlert reads Breitbart (to which I refuse even to link), so the rest of us don’t have to. This is, in some measure, a public service, much like we all depend on the vital work of those devoted souls who labor in sewers (no, really: I mean that – they do difficult work from which we all benefit). The latest right-wing sewage gushing forth is that we’re trying to murder them by encouraging them to get vaccinated, knowing they’ll dig in & refuse, so that they’ll die of COVID-19:

Idiocy, of course, now defines the brainwash movement on the right. At Breitbart, John Nolte announced that pro-vaccine leaders like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Dr. Anthony Fauci actually don’t want conservatives to get vaccinated because they want conservatives to die off. So how do Biden, Pelosi, and Fauci make sure Republicans remain unvaccinated? By pleading with everyone to get inoculated.

“The push for mandates is another ploy to get us to dig in and not do what’s best for ourselves because no one wants to feel like they’re caving to a mandate,” wrote Nolte. “Nothing else makes sense to me,” he noted, without an ounce of self-awareness.

Brainwashing itsn’t typically a topic that’s covered when dissecting mainstream American politics. Sadly, it needs to be. And fast.

Mind: boggled.

This isn’t just opinion; it’s data and evidence. As we’ve written before (e.g., here, here, and here), the mischief is concentrated in the US among Republicans. And it’s actual data that tells us this, with both high statistical significance and effect size.

Now there’s evidence that the Republican right has not only stayed extreme in the face of self-inflicted death, but doubled down.

Consider California: the Republicans started a recall campaign against the Democratic governor, essentially to keep re-adjuticating his election. Compare the results with COVID cases: if correlation were causation, you’d think COVID-19 caused recall votes. (In fact, the underlying variable causing both is of course Republicanism.)

Grossman @ Twitter: California Republican recall counties are high per-capita COVID-19 counties

Mind: boggled.

NYT: Red COVID NYT: Unvaccinated population fraction rises with Trump margin

David Leonhardt, writing in today’s Morning Newsletter in the New York Times [2], tells us the pattern is growing even more extreme at the national level. He repeats the state-level analysis we did here before, and shows in the plot here that it’s not only still there, the relationship of outright defiance of vaccination is even more associated with Trumpiness. Charles Gaba did this at the county level, as we previously cited, and found the fine-grain data was just as extreme.

Mind: boggled.

Today I Got Boosted

Gounder: Boosters won't solve the whole problem But… but… as all the existentialists say, no matter what the world should be, here we are with the world as it is. What’s the correct course of action, given the prior that the world is as we can best observe it to be at this moment?

So today I got a booster. Refusing a booster would be modeling incorrect behavior for the vaccine defiant, and “my” dose wouldn’t go to the unvaccinated anyway. So I elected to boost my own immunity.

  • The FDA recommended it 10 days ago, and the CDC approved it last Friday.
  • On Saturday, I looked at my local CVS’s web site, and made an appointment for the following Monday, i.e., today. No sense waiting, right?

As Helen Rosner write in the New Yorker interviewing epidemiologist Céline Gounder [3], we can’t expect boosters to solve the whole pandemic problem for us. She thinks the boosters make sense for the elderly and the immune compromised, but not so much for everybody else.

The antibody rush right after vaccination probably only lasts a few months and then declines; this is normal for vaccines. Your blood isn’t full of antibodies to every virus you’ve ever encountered in your life; you’d practically be made of nothing but antibodies if that were the case! Your memory B-cells remember how to make new antibodies when confronted with the virus later. So boosters may just be a temporary bump in antibodies and nothing more, for immune competent people.

Gounder says something we’ve been harping on here at this crummy little blog that nobody reads: healthy, non-elderly people with 2 doses of an mRNA vaccine may be better served not by getting a booster themselves, but by that shot getting in the arm of the unvaccinated. That applies domestically, and to the entire world.

Her well-put caution is worth taking seriously:

I know people are really impatient to get answers, but it’s difficult to do that in the absence of data. Sometimes we want to say, “Well, common sense says,” but the entire history of medicine is littered with what we think is common sense, and then we study it, and we realize actually it’s wrong.

Your humble Weekend Editor's portside dorsal manipulator tentacle taking on a Pfizer booster But I’m in the booster-approved group of people over 65. So here’s the now-regrettably-canonical picture of my portside dorsal manipulator tentacle getting a dose of Comirnaty a.k.a. tozinameran (otherwise better known as the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine). No, I do not love the names. But I do love the idea of not getting COVID-19. Or really, the idea of nobody getting COVID-19! (And hey, this time the tech adminstering the shot wore gloves. I feel more respected already.)

Alas, we are too late for about 688,000 Americans and about 4.55 million worldwide:

Kim @ Twitter: DC exhibit of flags for COVID-19 victims

So if — for some exceptionally obscure reason — you wish to do me a favor, then go out and get vaccinated. You can make an old man happy by telling me about in the comments below (or not, as you please). But really: get vaccinated. Try not to die.

Too many people have taken the other path already. I just can’t take it any more, watching people die needlessly.

2021: A Bannner Year For Vaccines Chez Weekend

Look, it’s been a lot of vaccinations for us this year, here at Chez Weekend. 3 COVID-19 vaccinations + 2 shingles vaccinations + 1 flu vaccination = 6 vaccinations in a single year. The Weekend Editrix is pretty similar, at 5 so far this year.

We haven’t had that many vaccinations in a single year since we were a kids!

And I’m thankful for each one. Each time, I smiled at the tech giving me the shot and said so, occasionally to their surprise.

Still… I’m a little tired of getting vaccinated so often. If we’d all get adequately vaccinated, then this could stop. Until then, I’ll keep doing what’s required to keep all of us alive.

If you need a COVID-19 or flu vaccination (or really any vaccination), by all means get it done. For yourself, for your family, for your country, for humanity as a whole.

Now… to carefully peruse the CDC list of qualifying medical conditions to find an excuse to get the Weekend Editrix boosted next month! I’ve got my eye on a couple of the milder conditions. (We were hoping to go to Japan in December to visit family, all fully vaccinated. Except last night United cancelled all our flights. Still arguing about refunds. Grrr.)

Tune in tomorrow for a field report on booster side effects.

Addendum 2021-Sep-29: Booster Side FX

By the end of the day of vaccination, I was feeling pretty tired, with a little bit of sore muscles and achy joints. A hot bath took are of that, and I went to be early.

The next day, I pretty much slept the whole day. That’s my normal way of dealing with mild illness, or what feels like that.

Today… I’m still a bit weak and tired. But now I’m going to take some ibuprofen and put the vaccine behind me. Over the next 2 weeks, I’ll be as immune as human science can make me.

Then… gotta talk the Weekend Editrix into it. We’ll see how that goes.

Notes & References

1: E Boehlert, “Media ignore a monster story — the brainwashing of Covid zombies”, PressRun, 2021-Sep-22.

2: D Leonhardt, “Red Covid”, New York Times, 2021-Sep-27.

3: H Rosner, “What COVID Booster Shots Can and Can’t Do”, New Yorker, 2021-Sep-23.

Published Mon 2021-Sep-27

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