A new UK study has found that around 1 in 20 of children hospitalised with COVID-19 develop brain or nerve complications linked to the viral infection. The research, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health and led by the University of Liverpool, identifies a wide spectrum of neurological complications in children and suggests they may be more common than in adults admitted with COVID-19.
“There’s no country that has attained herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2. And, certainly, there are countries with different levels of vaccination. I mean, some countries have over 60 percent of their population fully vaccinated. There are also countries that have had natural exposure to the infection at very high rates. But it hasn’t extinguished the pandemic. We’ve always seen surges even after that. And I think that reflects several factors.
One, I think natural immunity can wane over time. And I think the durability of that immunity does depend on the severity of original infection. When infections are mild and asymptomatic, we can have at least weighting of neutralizing antibodies and how that correlates with waning immunity. We don’t know yet, but we know that re-infection, or the getting infected again with the virus, either the same variant or another variant, are far more common than we originally thought. Although there is protection, even over longer duration of time, it’s not absolute.”
** One of just a handful of people on Earth who seems to understand the existential threat that Sars-CoV-2 poses
One thing that we have been keeping on eye on recently is the possible successor variant to Delta B.1.617.2 in the UK. The Alpha B.1.1.7 variant had a shelf life of about 5 months before it was displaced by Delta. Will Delta have a similar shelf life?
Delta seems to have been on the wane in the UK over the couple of weeks, so is it already making way for a stronger, fitter variant? If it is, it won’t be long before that successor variant becomes apparent, and the removal of all Covid mitigations on UK “Freedom Day” has given it plenty of opportunity to spread quickly.
Below, Alpha had a shelf life of about 5 months in the UK. Delta already seems to be waning. What will take its place?
Below, Delta may have peaked worldwide, but there is no clear successor variant yet.
Below, It doesn’t look like the successor variant will be Delta AY.3 in the UK from this chart, but it’s too early to tell….
Below, Delta peaked in early May 2021 in India, but hasn’t immediately been followed by another stronger variant. The next variant could be waiting for a fall in the population’s antibody levels from the Delta wave which could take 3-6 months, creating an opportunity from August 2021 onwards. The shelf life for Delta in India, in a largely unvaccinated population, was just three months.
The problem for the UK government, though, is that by dropping all mitigations on 19th July 2021, they may have encouraged Delta to peak early and, as a consequence, left enough time for a second larger, and perhaps far worse, autumn or winter wave to form.
As we said in this post in on 16th July:
“According to the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, the idea is that a Covid-19 wave in the summer will prevent an even worse wave in the winter. Our prediction is that Johnson will simply get two waves for the price of one – the wave he is promoting now, by removing all mitigations, and an even worse winter wave caused by yet another new variant.”
Scenario One: A variant that causes severe disease in a greater proportion of the population than has occurred to date. Scenario Two: A variant that evades current vaccines. Scenario Three: Emergence of a drug resistant variant after anti-viral strategies. Scenario Four: SARS-CoV-2 follows an evolutionary trajectory with decreased virulence.
Scenario One: A variant that causes severe disease in a greater proportion of the population than has occurred to date. For example, with similar morbidity/mortality to other zoonotic coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV (~10% case fatality) or MERS-CoV (~35% case fatality).
Likelihood of increased severity phenotype: Realistic possibility.
Scenario Two: A variant that evades current vaccines. This could be caused by: Antigenic ‘shift’: Natural recombination events that insert a different spike gene sequence (or partial sequence) from human CoVs MERS-CoV (highly unlikely due to the low frequency of MERS-CoV infections), or from currently circulating endemic human CoVs (more likely due to the prevalence of these viruses). This would recombine into the ‘body’ of SARS-CoV-2 that is capable of high replication in human cells. The consequence could be a virus that causes disease at a level similar to COVID-19 when it first emerged but against which our current battery of spike glycoprotein-based vaccines would not work.
Likelihood: Realistic possibility.
Scenario Three: Emergence of a drug resistant variant after anti-viral strategies. This could be caused by: Emergence of new variants following the administration of directly acting antiviral therapies. As we begin to use directly acting antiviral drugs it is highly likely a variant will be selected that had resistance to individual agents. For example, drugs that target the viral 3C protease, drugs that target the polymerase, monoclonal antibodies that target the spike glycoprotein. If the drugs are used as a mono therapy, then resistant variants have a high probability of emerging. This may render all drugs in that category unusable.
Likelihood: Likely – unless the drugs are used correctly.
Scenario Four: SARS-CoV-2 follows an evolutionary trajectory with decreased virulence. This could be caused by: Variants arising with increased transmissibility but decreased pathogenesis/virulence as the virus becomes fully adapted to the human host becoming an endemic infection. Coupled with the likelihood of eventual high populations immunity the infection produces less disease. In other words, this virus will become like other human CoV that causes common colds, but with much less severe disease predominantly in the old or clinically vulnerable.
Likelihood: Unlikely in the short term, realistic possibility in the long term.
What do the people who say “learn to live with the virus” actually mean?
They mean: fail to learn any of the lessons of the last 18 months, fail to mitigate against the spread of the virus and tolerate avoidable deaths and disease burden.
I’d rather we didn’t.
— Kit Yates (@Kit_Yates_Maths) July 30, 2021
Over to you Kirsty….
At least 130 visitors were already infected with Covid-19 despite the mandatory entrance tests when they went to the Dutch music festival ‘Verknipt’ in the first weekend of July. Afterwards, 1,100 of the 20,000 festival-goers tested positive there.
The Dutch health service points to the too long validity of the rapid tests at the time. “This research shows how vulnerable working with access tests is,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht.
The coronavirus outbreak at the Aspen Valley nightclub in Enschede on June 26 that resulted in 180 people contracting the coronavirus can be traced back to one person, an investigation from the GGD Twente showed. Other factors also facilitated the widespread of the disease on that night.
“There are strong indications there was one person infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus present who caused the remaining infections”, said Dr. Sanne Mensink of the GGD in a statement. Attendees were required to show proof of vaccination or negative coronavirus test upon entry.
The UK government have been trumpeting lower daily Covid-19 infection numbers on their dedicated coronavirus portal (below) for a week, but the UK Covid-19 app Zoe is showing that the number of active cases is still rising sharply. The number of patients being admitted to hospitals for Covid-19 is still above 800 a day, and deaths are nearly 100 a day.
Latest Care Home (CH) COVID death data (to last Friday) unfortunately shows a significant increase (doubled in a fortnight) after several low weeks.
This is a population that is ~99% fully vax'd, although staff are only around 77% fully vax'd.
— John Roberts (@john_actuary) July 27, 2021
Please check your care home lockdown plans now, this could escalate quite quickly.
The number of people who, very clearly, do not want this drop in the number of Covid cases to be true is quite staggering. What is wrong with people? Is that they like the control/the drama/the restrictions and know that they will lose all this as we learn to live with Covid?
— Kirstie Allsopp (@KirstieMAllsopp) July 26, 2021
Learn to live with Covid?
- Over 4 million dead in 18 months
- Nearly 200 million infections
- 5%, 10% or even 30% of Covid-19 infections become Long Covid cases – that’s between 10 million and 60 million Long Covid cases so far
- An estimated 1,134,000 children experienced the death of primary caregivers from Covid-19, including at least one parent or custodial grandparent.
- Vaccine breakthrough cases already account for more than 50% of new Covid-19 infections in some countries
We’ll be adding more reasons why it’s impossible to learn to live with Covid here as more and more people become fascinated by this glib solution to a raging pandemic.
“We all need to change our thinking and draw a road map for living with Covid,” says Dr. Manfred Green. We disagree, and we will be explaining why we disagree in a post later.
Editors note: This report comes just 48 hours after our warning that Boris Johnson’s government was proposing to his countrymen that they should also “learn to live with Covid” (see original post below).
Have you ever wondered what happens when you search for “We have to learn to live with Ebola”? Try it.
It’s an idea so insane that only one person in recorded history has actually written it down.
In the past four days in Portugal, three out of four Covid-19 deaths have occurred in the over 70-year-old age bracket. Experts explain that the increase in cases in older age groups is a reflection of the situation that the country is going through. In care homes, there are no significant outbreaks, but those responsible do not hide their concern.
RTP.pt report (with video report in Portuguese)
In another sign that the effectiveness of the various coronavirus vaccines is waning quickly, Covid-19 infection rates are now rising fastest amongst the over 80s age group, with a rise of 54% in two weeks in that cohort in Portugal. The over 80s, of course, were the first group to be vaccinated against Covid-19 earlier this year as they were deemed to be the most vulnerable to the disease.
RTP.pt report (in Portuguese)
An utterly contemptible message from UK’s Health Minister today, dismissing as cowards the 150,000 people who have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Britain and taunting tens of millions who were ORDERED TO STAY AT HOME by HIS GOVERNMENT.
Loose talk costs lives, and this crass comment will certainly cost many more lives to the virus in future.
Full recovery from Covid a week after testing positive.
Symptoms were very mild, thanks to amazing vaccines.
Please – if you haven’t yet – get your jab, as we learn to live with, rather than cower from, this virus. https://t.co/OmuaUGp173
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) July 24, 2021