Tuesday, April 28, 2020

TOTAL MUST READ: What If COVID-19 Immunity Doesn't Last Long?

I'm linking to Zerohedge, because they have the original MIT Technology Review article nicely formatted and reader friendly:

MIT: What If COVID-19 Immunity Doesn't Last Long?

Highly informative. This is the $64,000 question policy makers are wrestling with.

Here's the lead in:

Many Americans who haven't been closely following the stream of research, evolving opinions and changing recommendations of health-care professionals and organizations probably don't realize just how little we know about the virus. 
Few realize that when health care professionals and epidemiologists recommend these shutdowns, they're doing so based on evidence that, if left unchecked, the virus can overwhelm health-care systems relatively quickly, like it did in Wuhan. And while we know the lockdowns and social distancing have certainly helped, researchers and doctors can't say much more with certainty, ... 
But the most critical unknown by far is how long do people remain immune from the virus once they contract it and recover? ... 
And in this article by the MIT Technology Review, scientists explore the possibility that COVID-19 immunity just simply doesn't last.

And from the early part of the article itself:

For the coronaviruses “immunity seems to wane quickly,” says Jeffrey Shaman, who carried out the research with Marta Galanti, a postdoctoral researcher. 
Whether covid-19 will follow the same pattern is unknown, but the Columbia results suggest one way that much of the public discussion about the pandemic could be misleading. There is talk of getting “past the peak” and “immunity passports” for those who’ve recovered. At the same time, some hope the infection is more widespread than generally known, and that only a tolerable death total stands between us and high enough levels of population immunity for the virus to stop spreading. 
All that presumes immunity is long-lived, but what if it is fleeting instead? 
"What I have been telling everyone—and no one believes me, but it’s true - is we get coronaviruses every winter even though we’re seroconverted,” says Matthew Frieman, who studies the virus family at the University of Maryland. That is, even though most people have previously developed antibodies to them, they get the viruses again. “We really don’t understand whether it is a change in the virus over time or antibodies that don’t protect from infection,” he says.
... Is there a chance the disease will turn into a killer version of the common cold, constantly out there, infecting 10% or 20% of the population each year, but also continuing to kill one in a hundred? If so, it would amount to a plague capable of shaving the current rate of world population growth by a tenth.


  1. Well, that would favor...

    Perhaps this is true... So does the mortality move down the age scale?

    1. That's the point--that's just one more thing that nobody really knows. As I keep reminding people, this isn't the flu. Among other things that could mean that it may not mutate as freely as the flu, meaning this is pretty much it. But we don't really know. That's what makes this so frustrating for anyone trying to plan for the future.

    2. I am not a lawyer, nor doctor, as I have said before. I am an entrepreneur, a salesman, a professional salesman. But my university training was as an economist.

      I keep going back to unintended consequences and opportunity costs. Shutting down, expanding unemployment compensation, closing parks, restricting gardening procurement; all of these, to me, have significant unintended consequences.

      Additionally, almost all media enterprises, including my local media frame news around narratives that miss the point of your informative links and functionally act as Democrat information shaping centers.

      This matters because most people want to work and support their families. They are self-sufficient and capable.

      The opportunity cost of not just sheltering and protecting vulnerable populations while not allowing the rest of us to get back to work could have consequences beyond our imagination, and I am not speaking in hyperbole.

      The folks in charge of the narrative have goals that supersede the health and well being of the citizenry.

      All of this, while I have no substantive disagreement with your descriptions/prescriptions for how we should move forward. A conundrum.

  2. Killer version of the common cold--yeah, that's the real worrisome outcome. Guess we'll have to be locked down forever now. The issue of antibodies not lasting also makes one wonder how effective a vaccine would be.

    Would successive rounds be as dangerous for the previously infected? That's also unknown. There are some diseases that are worse upon reinfection since the body is primed to attack it, which may make symptoms actually worse. Other cases, subsequent reinfection is much more mild.

    1. True. That's why I think my theory is worthy of serious consideration. I'm not suggesting we can simply, boom, go back to "normal." However, we can't afford to remain as we are now, either. We need to find a way forward, and if we can determine what I'm arguing--that generally speaking this virus isn't as infectious as initially feared--we may be able to come up with targeted measures that buy us time and give us reasonable protection.

  3. Perhaps of interest:

    The Truth (and Lies) about Coronavirus

    1. I see he agrees with me about a number of things. One is that, overall, the virus is not as infectious as the flu--not as easily transmissible. He seems to downplay its lethality, which I think is misguided. However, I do think, FWIW, that the first factor that we agree on--lower degree of infectiousness--can be used to shape strategies that will protect those who are vulnerable.

  4. I think we can open up more, and masks help a huge amount. A lot of infections seem to be in nursing homes, due to bad decisions. And a lot of workers can work from home. And there are a lot of health issues happening, because hospitals are not doing non Coronavirus stuff. Chemo at one Hospital is down 80%. And Cancer did not go on vacation.

    A lot of the lock down just does not make sense. And today I hit a traffic jam in So CA in Ontario, so people are ignoring the stay at home orders because they need to work. At the apartments I help out with, the parking lot is empty during the day.

    1. This has been my hope. However, the chickens are coming home to roost in Blue States especially. The overspending on local government pensions and failure to invest in preparedness is coming to light. Unionized teachers get huge pensions, and we expect to have cheap foreign imports do the dirty work in nursing homes.

    2. And the Dems think that they should be rewarded for their failures. They are good at breaking things and blaming others for their own failures.

  5. Mr. Wauck,

    Do you plan to have commentary today about the latest Flynn developments. I saw quite a bit of traffic that Sullivan is ticked with Covington & Burling.

    1. I'm waiting for the release of the new docs, which Powell says could be today or tomorrow. In my commentary on these and related matters I try to concentrate on the bigger picture rather than provide a blow by blow of each legal twist and/or turn.

  6. I hate to post about Flynn on an unrelated topic. A couple of commentators say that Sullivan is unlikely to vacate the plea (I hope that I am correctly characterizing their thoughts) and that it will be up to DoJ to decline to go forward with the conviction and sentencing.

    As I always say, I am no attorney, but it sure seems wrong to me that a judge can't overrule egregious behavior. Will Chamberlain says that Sullivan is p***** (angry).

  7. "I'm waiting for actual news.."

    I got your point. I'm not waiting. LOL.