Kids, Covid, and the Delta Variant

An article from the U.S. reports a sharp rise in the number of children hospitalized with Covid, especially in states with low vaccination rates. The article’s from September, although it’s still relevant. The U.S.–just to be clear–continues to exist even though September’s come and gone.  

The danger isn’t just that they’re at risk of dying, but that they’re also at risk of long Covid–the sometimes serious symptoms that drag on for no one knows how long after a percentage of people recover from Covid.. 

“These are children whose development and futures may be compromised,” said Dr. James Versalovic of Texas Children’s Hospital. “The collective impact when we look ahead is significant.”

In case anyone missed the point, he also said, “Children are our future adults.”

I’ve suspected that for a long time but I’m glad to have it confirmed by a medical professional. 

Irrelevant photo: Cut flowers at the village produce stall.

Are the numbers up because the Delta variant’s more dangerous to children? That’s not clear yet. Children are still less likely than adults to get severe Covid, even with Delta. But whatever we eventually learn about the percentages, the Delta variant is more contagious, so we’re dealing with a larger number of infections and from that a larger number of kids who draw the short straw in the great Covid lottery.  The doctors interviewed for the article called for more people to get vaccinated and for people to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“What really protects children are the interventions directed at the rest of society,” said Dr. Thomas Tsai of the health policy department at Harvard University. 

If asked, I’m sure he would have confirmed that children are society’s future adults, but no one did him the courtesy of asking.

 

Long Covid and vaccination

The latest news on vaccination and long Covid–or at least the latest I’ve found–is that being doubly vaccinated slashes hell out of your odds of developing long Covid. 

First, vaccination makes you less likely to get infected. In a study of 2 million vaccinated people, 0.2% tested positive. What’s the comparison number for unvaccinated people? Um, yeah, I should have that, but the article I’m working from was making a different point, so it didn’t hand me a comparison group. But in a different study of a different group, vaccinated people were three times less likely to get infected than the unvaccinated. 

To point out the obvious, that means only that they test positive, not necessarily that they get sick. 

Second, if you take that first group of infected vaccinated people and compare it with a group of infected unvaccinated people, the vaccinated group are only half as likely to develop long Covid.

The vaccinated group is also 31% less likely to get acute Covid symptoms, 73% to end up in the hospital, and 16% less likely to have had liver for supper. 

Sorry. I wanted to see if anyone was still awake. That won’t be on the test.

The bad news is that older people and people from poorer areas (also known as poor people, but the study didn’t have income data for individuals so it extrapolated from where they lived)– 

Should we start that over? Those two groups aren’t as well protected by the vaccines, which argues that they should be priorities for booster shots. It also argues that raising people’s incomes would be a great public health measure. I’d recommend lowering peoples ages as well, but no one’s worked out the mechanics of that. 

If I hear that anyone’s making progress on that, I’ll let you know. Right after I inform my knees, which will be very excited about it. 

 

Scientists are being threatened

A poll of 321 scientists found that 15% had gotten death threats after speaking publicly about Covid, and 22% had been threatened with physical or sexual violence. 

Not that sexual violence isn’t physical, mind you, but I guess it’s best to be specific about how ugly things are getting.

The most common issues that triggered the threats were vaccination, masks, and the effectiveness of specific treatments.

It’s heartening that we’re handling a worldwide crisis like adults.

 

And speaking of specific treatments…

The Thai government gave an herb, green chiretta, known as the king of bitters, to 11,800 inmates with mild and asymptomatic Covid and claims that 99% of them recovered. 

Which sounds great, but the problem is that it doesn’t seem to have been a controlled study–you know, the kind with a control group that doesn’t get the treatment, so you can compare them.. 

If they reported how many of them were asymptomatic, I haven’t seen it. An asymptomatic person making a full recovery is hardly headline news.

The herb’s widely used in Thailand to treat colds and flu, 

Just to complicate the picture, it’s hard to calculate Covid recovery rates. Don’t ask–the article I’m working from just tossed that in and moved on, so let’s do the same. 

By way of comparison,” the article says, “the recovery rates announced by Thai officials are somewhat higher than overall Covid recovery rates in India (32%-83%) or Australia (96% recovered after 120 days).”

That doesn’t explain why they’re hard to calculate, but if we’re looking at a range from 32% to 83%, we might want to agree that it’s not an easy number to come up with.

Two controlled studies of green chiretta are underway, one in Thailand and the other in Georgia. That’s Georgia as in the country where you’ll find Tbilisi, not as in the state where you’ll find Atlanta. 

 

And a quick glance at Britain…

…since that’s what I allegedly write about here. Sorry. The pandemic’s taken me on a long side trip.

It’s done that to all of us, hasn’t it?

Covid infections in Britain went up by 60% in a month. Or to come at the numbers in a different way, we had almost 50,000 new cases in one recent day. That’s some 19,000 short of our all-time peak. 

Britain’s infection rates are higher than those of other European nations. Yay us! We’re winning!

No, wait. I got carried away. We don’t want to win this race. 

Why are we ahead? It’s not clear yet. The puzzle has a lot of pieces and it’ll take a while before anyone figures out where they go. How does testing compare to other countries? What about mask wearing, ventilation, vaccination, school rooms, work, transportation? But we can give a few of the pieces a good hard stare: Some of these bullet points will apply to Britain as a whole and some only to England. Apologies for putting them in the same bag and shaking them together before baking. It’s been that kind of week. 

  • The kids are back in school and not wearing masks.
  • Lots of people who were working from home are going back into–well, wherever it is they once worked. Whether they want to or not.
  • Not unrelated to that, the government has reopened everything it could get its hands on. 
  • Mask mandates have ended, although they’re recommended in public indoor spaces.
  • Kids between 12 and 15 are eligible for vaccination but it’s not happening quickly.
  • Booster shots for vulnerable adults aren’t happening quickly either.
  • Immunity from vaccines may be waning. Because Britain started its vaccination program earlier than most countries, waning immunity would show up earlier.
  • A new sub-variant of Delta has been spotted. That may well not be significant, but I thought I’d mention it. 

On top of that, one article I’ve seen brings the news that the unvaccinated could get reinfected an average of every 16 months, although reinfection doesn’t necessarily wait that long. It can happen soon after the first bout. So it’s not just the vaccines that (apparently) wane, so does natural immunity. Reports are coming in of people getting reinfected not just once but twice. 

People who’ve been vaccinated are also reporting reinfections. How often? I haven’t seen a number, and I’d be surprised if decisive numbers are in yet. What we can say is that the vaccinated will, at least, have some protection against the severest forms of the disease.

“We still don’t know much about the risk factors for reinfection,” Nisreen Alwan, associate professor of public health, said, “but the theoretical assumption that once all the young get it the pandemic will be over is becoming increasingly unlikely.” 

So much for herd immunity. 

Widespread vaccination has meant hospitalizations aren’t going up as quickly as infection rates, but even so we’ve got something like 869 admissions to hospital every day and some 8,000 people in hospital with Covid–around 10% of them on ventilators. So this increase in cases isn’t cost free. Leaders in the National Health Service are calling for mask mandates, working from home, and other restrictions to be brought back before we all find ourselves neck-deep in unpleasant brown stuff. And the health secretary, while refusing to do anything that useful, is at least asking Members of Parliament to set an example by wearing masks in crowded public places.

Should Christmas parties be canceled? Oh, hell no. Just take a lateral flow test first. 

The UK’s fairly highly vaccinated, and that’s keeping deaths and hospitalization rates from rising as quickly as they did in the early days of the pandemic, but they are rising and an already underfunded health care system is struggling. 

*

To underline how complicated the picture is, Japan’s had an unexpected downturn in the number of cases, and it’s not clear why that’s happened either. No one’s complaining, but understanding it would be useful.

*

A joint report from the House of Commons’ science and health committees rips into the British government’s early response to Covid, which amounted to, “Let’s all get sick, then we’ll have herd immunity. Yeah, som people will die, but doesn’t everyone die sooner or later?” 

The government caused thousands of deaths by delaying a lockdown, the report says.

“Decisions on lockdowns and social distancing during the early weeks of the pandemic–and the advice that led to them–rank as one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced,” it says. 

Britain has had more than 137,000 recorded coronavirus deaths. That’s the second highest number in Europe. Only Russia has more–and it’s a hell of a lot bigger. 

We won’t get into how many unrecorded Covid deaths there were and are, or the varying ways a Covid death is defined, but let’s acknowledge that it’s not a number anyone can be accurate about. Still, the numbers we have give us a rough sketch of where things stand. 

 

The smoker’s paradox

Early in the pandemic, a small handful of studies reported that smokers seemed to be protected against Covid’s worst effects. Since that ran counter to everything we’d expect, it was reported widely as a man-bites-dog story.

You know about man-bites-dog stories? If a dog bites a man, it’s not news. If a man bites a dog, it is. This bit of wisdom came from the time before women were invented, hence their absence. 

I might as well admit that I don’t remember seeing articles about smokers being protected from Covid, but my memory’s more decorative than functional, so I may have known about it at the time.

Never mind. What was behind the stories? Less than meets the eye. A larger study has now shown more or less what we’d expect: that smokers are 80% more likely to be hospitalized with Covid than nonsmokers. 

If you’d like an interesting lesson on probability, do click through and read the article. It’s a great explanation of why science continually updates its conclusions. But I’m going to skip all that and tell you this instead: 

First, the initial studies were small and the more recent one is large, meaning it has a better chance of being accurate.

Second, some of the initial studies were funded by tobacco companies, which–oops–are still trying to sell cigarettes. So we might want to look for an element of bias. Which lead us to the next paragraph.

Third, the studies asked the wrong question. They looked at the number of people hospitalized with Covid and asked how many of them smoked.

It’d be more useful–if you want a scientifically useful answer, that is–to compare smokers and nonsmokers and ask how many in each group are hospitalized with Covid. 

If you approach the question the first way, you don’t take account of the people who die before being admitted or who are transferred to a hospice. 

My math’s terrible, but I suspect that if you have one category of people who die quickly and one of people who linger, the lingerers pile up, so there will be more of them when you count heads, making it look like the dead are protected. 

The larger, later study included a fuller range of the population, asked a better question, and got a more predictable result.

if COVID teaches us nothing else,” the article says, “it should teach us to hold extraordinary claims–about smoking, vitamin D, zinc, bleach, gargling iodine, or nebulising hydrogen peroxide–to high standards.”

57 thoughts on “Kids, Covid, and the Delta Variant

  1. I expect the vaccinated are getting re-infected because, like the common cold, Coronavirus can mutate and hey ho, the vaccines won’t be as effective. After I was vaccinated against mumps, diphtheria, rubella and polio, I never caught these diseases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The vaccines, they say, are still effective, even against Delta, but Delta spreads so much more effectively that they numbers will be higher. But–well, me and numbers. A lot of this goes right over my head. We have a problem. That much I understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In just over a week, our local infection rates went from about 250 per 100,00 to 750 per 100,000. Of course, we have been told that it has nothing to do with teachers and students getting false negative PCR tests and then going back to school, so unwittingly spreading Covid.

    A good friend and her children (she teaches at one local school, they attend another) were really poorly. I spoke to her at her doorway, she could barely stand. But the PCR tests were negative, so after a day or so in bed, they all struggled back into school. They have since been informed that their tests were wrong. So have lots of others around here.

    No comment, my blood pressure is already high……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, holy shit, that’s horrible. I’d read about the false negatives, but somehow when you hear it from real people it’s worse.

      I’ve lost track of whether Cornwall’s rates are going up or down. They’re high. That’s pretty much all I need to know.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Riding my hobbyhorse again…Relatively few people are “barely standing” with COVID. Something like 90% of people are “dunno if it’s some sort of virus, or I’m just tired, but woss alla fuss about,” and 5% (sorry but I’m not taking time to look up precise numbers) are rolled into hospitals on gurneys. I happen to know one of those who were “barely standing,” doing a very successful self-quarantine so no one could believe he had COVID. At the time I shouted around his door “They sprayed near your house; that’s what’s wrong with you,” and he shouted “Maybe” and shuffled back to bed. (He’s not a close friend or relative, just a lonely old person I used to speak to while walking past his house.) But it turned out he really had COVID and managed not to spread it. He drove himself down to the hospital and was told “Even if COVID is what you have, we need to keep the beds for people who are really *down* with it. You’re standing on your feet so we can’t test or treat you.” His case was atypical, as are your friends’. So I just have to ask…by any chance had these people been exposed to glyphosate vapors?!

      Liked by 2 people

      • No idea, but I do know that Covid infection can be confirmed by testing, so no one who’s tested is likely to mistake one problem for the other. You could argue the glyphosate makes people more vulnerable, but I’ve never seen any studies on that. It’s not impossible but as far as I know also not proven.

        Like

        • What does glyphosate have to do with COVID???

          Everyone around here gets tested. It’s free. Unless there’s an error at the lab (as happened in my area) you know if you have it or not. And lots of people I know have been very sick with COVID — barely standing is a real thing. Wiped out for a fortnight is common too.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Priscilla

        I agree with you glyphosate vapors comment. This is what it is all about. There are numerous toxins in the environment which poison us, in air and food and water.

        The toxins are essentially neuro-toxins causing interference with the nerves. I currently have a facial palsy due to sodium nitrite, legally (!) allowed here in the UK. it is primarily put in bacon and processed meats despite the fact that good quality salt is all that is necessary for preserving as has been the case for centuries.

        This sodium nitrite becomes nitrosamines under certain conditions and then becomes even more toxic, hence my palsy which I have had for over 3 years now.

        This has been known about for many years – we even used to ban it before the Second World War!! It was allowed during the war to come in from the states where it was used and the permission was never rescinded.

        So Covid 19 is merely various nasty toxins in the body from various sources, such as glyphosate which is a neuro-toxin and completely unnecessary whilst causing huge harm.

        I have written much about Covid 19 on my website, what it really is and who are behind it all. In reality it is much to do with big chemical companies, although that is just part of the picture.

        Should you look at my website please note I do use humour, typically plays on words//puns, as much to lighten the mood as well as help make the points. I have taken an unusual approach but there is method in my madness!

        They also say laughter is the best medicine, so I try my best.

        Kind regards

        Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

        Please excuse the nom-de-plume, this is as much for fun as a riddle for people to solve if they wish.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Dear Ellen

            Thank you for your reply. Covid 19 is many things and yes, it is a virus. But the current understanding of viruses is based on virus theory. This is a false theory, as it assumes that viruses are biological in the sense that bacteria are biological.

            Viruses are in fact chemical and, if they are testing anything properly at all when they test for Covid, they are looking at the exosome, part of the body’s defense system which is biological. I write about this on my website.

            I did not understand this until I researched carefully last year at 60 years of age when I had the time in furlough. As a building surveyor with a broad educational background, and used to defect analysis, following the trail of evidence and providing detailed reports, I was well suited to the task.

            As regards Covid 19 it is the ‘flu, the internal toxicosis of the body, partly due to metabolism of food and partly due to the many poisons in our environment which can and do enter our bodies in the air, food and water. Therefore adding more toxins via vaccines, if indeed they contain anything at all, is pointless.

            I used to think that vaccines were of some use until I looked carefully at it last year . I changed my mind.

            I have had my fair share of vaccines, certainly polio, tetanus and a BCG. The last mentioned may well have been the cause of what was diagnosed as measles when I was 15 years old. I was seriously ill for 2 weeks with a temperature up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It took me all summer to get my strength back; it really knocked me for six.

            Whether I had any childhood vaccines (apart from polio) I don’t know, I can’t find any records and my mother who would have known is no longer in this world.

            Whether a vaccine causes harm or sometimes death depends on the toxicity of the vaccine and the immune status of the individual. Vaccine harm and deaths are well documented over many decades. The current vaccines are no different and probably worse.

            The real pandemic is vitamin D deficiency which has been the case for a number of years due to an increase in indoor working and living.

            Resistance to the ‘flu is at an individual level, and there is only herd immunity in the sense that nations, tribes or families may have similar diets. No one person is quite the same however.

            The differences in nations are due primarily to vitamin D levels. This may be due to sunshine levels, or diet or both. Also it depends on the toxins in the environment, food air and water which affect people’s health and individual toxicity.

            Vitamins C and D are vital to deal with toxicosis. I write about these vitamins on my website. If you ill then vitamin C is particularly imported in clearing out the toxins. Vitamin D helps protect you in the first instance from all sorts of things, a whole body benefit, and although it should not be ignored when you are ill, it is C that is more beneficial at that point.

            I put the following link on my website if you or anyone is interested. As I said before please note I do use humour to lighten the mood and to help make the points where necessary.

            https://alphaandomegacloud.wordpress.com/v-is-for-vaccination/

            This has a link at the bottom to Covid 19 Summary which covers the various issues and who is behind it all.

            To have a vaccine is to play Russian roulette with your body. One of the shots may harm or kill, if you overload your immune system. If your vitamin D and general health then, all being well, you will not notice any side effects although different vaccines cause greater side effects if they are more toxic.

            New waves of Covid 19 in the UK etc. will be due to the usual winter ‘flu and vaccine side effects and deaths. I only hope it will not be too many from the vaccines which should be avoided like the plague.

            Kind regards

            Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Brilliant as your usual self writes.
    I used to enjoy liver when I was growing up but the only place I can sensibly order it now is Lizard’s Thicket which offers chicken fried steak as well. Liver never makes the menu cut.
    Thank you for your important informed information.
    Please take care of yourselves over there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is as if the US and the UK are in a contest to see who can mismanage the pandemic the most. A major part of the problem we have here, of course, is that decisions are being made at a state or even more local level so there is an inconsistency to the mitigation strategies. And not unrelated to that point is the fact that the US has politicized things so much that there are massive pockets of unvaccinated people.

    I think we opened things up far too quickly too. As a preschool teacher, I am actually feeling more exposed this year than I did last school year even though this year I am fully vaccinated – including a booster shot. Last school year there were state and county level policies and procedures in place that meant we could, for example, impose a quarantine period on a student who had travelled out of state. This year, however, we have no authority to do things like that and more people are engaging in all manner of higher risk activities. Thankfully we have a state mandate that requires all of our students to be masked.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s enough to drive a person to despair. And I find myself sliding toward an acceptance of the risks. So many people are taking them that I make horrified sounds and then forget the risks in my own actions.

      Has it been difficult to get preschoolers to keep their masks on?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually it has been surprisingly easy. I teach 2, 3, and year olds and they are all doing really well with them. Sometimes I have to speak to the parents about buying a different style of mask because of squashy little ears but masks really have not been a problem. We have, however, had a problem with parents who are vehemently opposed to their kids being forced to wear masks. Even when it was not mandated, it was our policy so we just remind them that preschool is not compulsory and they can either comply or withdraw their child. We have only lost one child in each school year because of the mask issue.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. “You’re only young once, but you can be immature forever.” (This seems to explain more about governments than about covid.)

    On a serious note, the long time wait for arrival of vaccines for the 5 to 12 year olds had the serious reminder that “kids are not little adults” so it was not only a matter of cutting the dosage in half.

    I was able to get my booster two days ago – my doctor advised waiting til two weeks after my flu shot But I still mask up when I am off the front lawn.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like you I find myself either sliding towards acceptance or just staying at home as if I were isolating myself. I don’t know which is worse (but apathy won’t prevent me from voting to have this shower out whenever I can, for all thats worth).

    But as a diversion – that bitter herbs thing: how do they know people didn’t feel better just from the relief of stopping eating bitter herbs?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haven’t a clue. I didn’t see much in the way of detail, but it does sound like people are used to using the stuff, so–well, I was going to wrap that up with some sort of grand bullshit, then remembered a friend’s cold and flu remedy which she forced on my partner. Her daughters swear you get better because it tastes so bad. I can’t remember the full list of ingredients, but it involves olive oil, lemon, and garlic. And several things that make it taste worse than salad dressing.

      Like

  7. I ask myself how it’s going to end too. The lack of an answer depresses me. I keep thinking that the population will wake up and smell that the conservative flavour of coffee is slowly but steadily poisoning us… but they’re all just reaching for the sugar bowl instead. I’ve upgraded my masks to higher levels of protection, now that I’m wearing one both for myself and all those others who can’t be arsed to do so. It’s less comfortable, but it’s something I can do. I do not want to risk catching the damn thing and giving it to my small grandchildren who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated, let alone anyone who’s immunosuppressed.

    Liked by 1 person

      • That seems to be the pattern here. Double-vaccinated, relatively young and healthy people are the ones having the “breakthrough” cases of “delta” COVID but although some of them are ill enough to get into hospitals, so far they seem to be surviving. Very few deaths among people who were expected to live another two years.

        Liked by 2 people

        • The quotes I see from hospitals is that the vast majority of the people they’re seeing are seeing are unvaccinated. That people who’ve been vaccinated will get infected is predictable. These aren’t, unfortunately, sterilizing vaccines. But they’re far better than no vaccines.

          Like

  8. Most good points start with, I don’t want to complain, but … Our poor kids sit in elementary school, no masks at the moment, when the numbers here as a high as last year at the same time. People in the meantime used their school holidays to fly to who knows where and life went back to one big party. Can anyone explain that to me?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope, I can’t even begin to explain it. The best I can do is fall back on my universal explanation for everything that I can’t explain any other way: We’re a difficult species. Or to put that another way, I don’t want to complain, but we’re a difficult species.

      If you work out who to complain to about that, let me know, would you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve got you covered there!

        (Just last week in school a kid tested herself light pink, the next 2 tests were negative, so everything is peachy (?) and we’ll just wait, til it hits our classroom … Fun times)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Light pink? The tests we’re using show one line or two, which sounds like a decisive yes/no but they’re not good at spotting low levels of the virus, so–well, they’re better than nothing but far from perfect.

          Covid’s been tearing through the schools here. And from there to the outside world. We’re gone from having a very low rate of Covid to a high one.

          Thanks, Boris.

          Liked by 1 person

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