COVID-19 Report #29: The Sonderbehandlung that won’t be (or will it?)
Continuing from the previous installment, I can’t say I’m surprised by the latest news. To cope with the Fourth Wave, “ministers in Northern Ireland have voted to introduce mandatory Covid passports from next month,” then “Sweden says it will reverse a controversial decision to stop recommending testing for people who are fully vaccinated but show Covid symptoms.” Furthermore, “The Czech Republic will ban people who have not been vaccinated or have not recovered from Covid from accessing public events and services from Monday.”
🇮🇹Italy is debating whether to follow Austria’s example and introduce restrictions for the non-vaccinated https://t.co/re83OVKoCo
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) November 17, 2021
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) November 17, 2021
Things are worsening faster than expected, IMHO.
Depending on which language you understand better, there are some quick summaries:
- In Italian: Stanno tornando le restrizioni in Europa (plus In Repubblica Ceca le persone non vaccinate non potranno partecipare a eventi pubblici e accedere ai locali).
- In Romanian: Un nou val al pandemiei de COVID-19 a ajuns în Europa: Care este situația în fiecare țară și ce noi restricții au impus autoritățile.
The measures already in place were not enough, and they are not enough to make the normalization of our lives a possibility.
As I said in the past, this pandemic could have been prevented:
- If the Chinese authorities wouldn’t have pretended that nothing has happened.
- If the Chines had imposed a full lockdown earlier than they did.
- If the borders had been closed not only in China, but worldwide, until there were no active cases.
- If SARS-CoV-2 were less contagious than it is, if it were faster to make people develop symptoms, and if the mortality were higher, as it was the case with the original SARS-CoV-1 in 2002-2004.
After all, SARS-CoV-1 has been eradicated, even if it took some time. But it never developed into a pandemic! Officially, it only infected some 8,000 people worldwide, of which about 10% died (other estimates give an overall fatality rate of 14-15%, with more than 50% for 64+). With SARS-CoV-2, it won’t be the case:
Why did the original Sars epidemic come to end? Well, SARS-CoV-1 did not burn itself out. Rather, the outbreak was largely brought under control by simple public health measures. Testing people with symptoms (fever and respiratory problems), isolating and quarantining suspected cases, and restricting travel all had an effect.
SARS-CoV-1 was most transmissible when patients were sick, and so by isolating those with symptoms, you could effectively prevent onward spread. Nearly everybody on the planet would remain susceptible to Sars in the decades following its disappearance. […]
In a similar timeframe to the original Sars, SARS-CoV-2 has proved to be more contagious but seemingly less deadly than its cousin was nearly 20 years ago. An additional – and critical – concern is that SARS-CoV-2 is efficiently spread before people get sick. This makes traditional symptomatic-based public health restrictions, which worked well for Sars, largely incapable of containing COVID-19.
In essence, this ease of transmission means that SARS-CoV-2 is infinitely more challenging to control.
What we did so far wasn’t enough. We need eine Sonderbehandlung.
Not, not that one. Neither the one from The Man in the High Castle series, where Thomas Smith surrenders himself to the Reich.
This doesn’t work either.
But what is it that we did, except for the following? (Rhetorical question.)
- Hesitant and contradictory messages from the medical authorities (masks are useless, or masks are useful; alcohol is useless, but then alcohol is useful; lockdowns are a must, but they are also useless; children, by God’s grace, don’t transmit the disease… or do they?).
- Inconsistent prevention and mitigation measures (including the testing!) even in similar epidemiological contexts, depending on the country (or State), because, hey, the laws of nature aren’t the same everywhere.
- Prioritizing the “freedoms” over public safety.
- Vaccines developed, authorized and purchased without the required transparency.
- Incoherent and propagandistic approach of the fake news phenomenon.
- Partial, weak lockdowns, in an “on and off” way, following the contamination figures (“the number of deaths is decreasing, let’s relax the measures until they die again in larger numbers”).
- Stupid, punitive-oriented approach that in some countries involved absurd self-delivered travel authorizations (attestation de déplacement dérogatoire in France; autodichiarazione/autocertificazione in Italy; and whatever its fucking name was in Romania).
- Curfews that, in my opinion, were purely idiotic. If a full lockdown helps, there’s absolutely no way a curfew could work in any other way than by limiting the human interaction, but then a curfew is nothing more than “a 10 PM to 5 AM lockdown”! Why not a “7 AM to 5 PM lockdown” instead? During the night, most people stay home anyway, especially in the cold seasons!
- Lack of political will, and inability to mandate the masks, the distancing, the work from home, and the vaccines.
Now, what is to be done?
Let’s see what are the two “mobile network” models considered in Germany:
- 3G (“geimpft, genesen, oder getestet”): the access allowed to those vaccinated, who have had the disease, or who have been tested.
- 2G (“geimpft oder genesen”): the access allowed to those vaccinated, and to those who have had the disease.
What we need is a 2G+ model: geimpft UND getestet, oder genesen UND getestet, i.e. vaccinated AND tested, or having had the disease AND tested!
Yes, this would involve huge costs, but this is the only thing that might still help. You see, as previously said, there are two major phenomenons that didn’t help.
👉 FIRST, even if it’s not rigorously true that “the vaccinated are spreading the disease just as much as the non-vaccinated,” because the vaccine’s protection against the risk that vaccinated people transmit the infection to unvaccinated people is 63% for Delta, and 73% for Alpha, we nonetheless have these facts:
- Those who are fully vaccinated but catch the virus are just as infectious to others in their household as infected unvaccinated people, even if they themselves generally have lighter symptoms and for a shorter time.
- Those who are fully vaccinated and catch the virus, even outside their household, and even if for a shorter period of time than the unvaccinated, are still contagious.
We also have the unquantified social phenomenon that many vaccinated people tend to behave recklessly, as if they were immune. (Not that the anti-vaxxers and all kind of deniers would behave responsibly!)
👉 SECONDLY, this virus is very volatile, changing quite easily (it’s only RNA, it lacks the DNA), and it’s also recent enough for it to be not yet adapted to the human host. Some older viruses are much more stable because they got adapted to the host, and even more so if they are DNA viruses. For such viruses, a vaccine is effective for a very long time, and for such vaccines, mass vaccination proved so successful in preventing the epidemics. However, with SARS-CoV-2:
- The vaccination rate is pathetic. Influenza too has low vaccination rates every year, and this is also a reason why every year there’s a flu season, vaccination or not.
- It’s a fast-changing virus. Influenza viruses, also RNA-only, are fast-changing too, and nobody ever stopped the flu.
- It spreads easier than the flu, and the Delta variant is even more contagious than the previous ones.
With SARS-CoV-1, chances were that an infected person developed a severe condition in a couple of hours (sometimes, they could even die in less than 48 hours). With SARS-CoV-2, the mega-spreaders might be totally unaware of their condition!
In conclusion, I don’t believe that partial or full lockdowns are what we need now. This doesn’t mean that people should go to rock-pop concerts and the like, although we should aim for normality. What we ought to do is to adopt this 2-point global policy:
- Mandatory vaccination except for those who have real, not fictional, contraindications.
- 2G+ for participating in large gatherings and for crossing any border: vaccinated and tested, or recently recovered and tested.
But, unfortunately, this won’t happen.
— ntv Nachrichten (@ntvde) November 18, 2021
Lothar H. Wieler, the president of the Robert Koch Institute, is extremely concerned about the situation in Germany. An (mostly) automated translation:
👉 Assessing the current pandemic situation:
● “We are in dire straits right now. We really will have a very bad Christmas if we don’t take countermeasures now.”
● “The health authorities are actually overwhelmed everywhere. The under-reporting of the true numbers is increasing. Behind these 52,000 there are at least twice or three times as many. Of these, 3000 go to hospital, a few hundred of them go to intensive care, and of them die so many. We can’t change that. “
👉 Regarding the situation in the hospitals:
● “We have never been as worried as we are now.“
● “The supply is already no longer in accordance with the rule in all federal states. We know that Bavaria, for example, is already moving patients to Italy.“
● “You see, the prognosis is super bleak. It’s really bleak.”
● “There is an emergency in our country. If you don’t see it, you’re making a very big mistake.”
👉 About vaccinations:
● “I’m going to say that now very clearly: There must be an end to anyone not allowing any other professional group to vaccinate because of some circumstances. We are in an emergency.“
● “Everyone who can vaccinate should kindly vaccinate now. Otherwise, we will not be able to get this crisis under control.”
👉 Concerning the nursing homes:
● “It is naive to believe that if the incidence is high, these people can be protected. It cannot be done. The virus is so contagious.”
● “If you want to lock people away and no longer have any contact with the outside world, then you may succeed. But for many reasons, that is completely unacceptable.”
● “If the incidences are too high, we will not be able to keep the virus out of nursing homes and old people’s homes. I ask you to forget these naive thoughts. We have to reduce the incidences, and we have to protect these people as best we can.”
👉 Regarding the 2G rule:
● “I am of the opinion that we should really show more consideration for the sensible, the many responsible people in our country. We cannot always give the non-vaccinated the chance that they will have their lives exactly as the vaccinated through a test.“
😕 My German is very far from perfect, but I am puzzled with regard to the phrase “Es muss jetzt Schluss sein, dass irgendwer irgendwelchen anderen Berufsgruppen aufgrund von irgendwelchen Umständen nicht gestattet, zu impfen.”, which I translated into “There must be an end to anyone not allowing any other professional group to vaccinate because of some circumstances.” (or: “The situation where someone, for no matter what reason, doesn’t allow some other professional group to vaccinate, must end.”) Is this what he really wanted to say? I don’t know what he’s talking about! Who denied vaccination to which professional group?
🤔 Or maybe he wanted to say a totally different thing: instead of “nicht gestattet, zu impfen,” something to the effect of “gestattet, nicht zu impfen“; in other words, I believe there should be an end to the situation when a professional group is allowed not to vaccinate! This is an issue in many countries in which e.g. health professionals, firefighters, police officers, etc. were allowed to refuse being vaccinated.
It’s interesting that Lothar H. Wieler is against a new lockdown; everyone is against lockdown these days! Almost two years into this shit, we should be able to do something else, and something better. Besides, lockdowns are supposed to be established in the incipient phases of an outbreak, when containment is still possible, not that far into the contagion!
Here’s a rant on this issue by Louis Rossmann, the famous “anti-Apple Apple repairman”; he’s not the smartest tool in the shed (although he can be quite perceptive at times and see beyond the smokescreen), and he’s not the best reference when it comes to this pandemic, especially as he, like many Americans, values his individual freedom above everything else (can freedom be restricted just because a hospital is full?), and yet, this time he’s rather balanced in what he says, and I tend to understand him:
Germany will introduce tighter COVID-19 curbs on unvaccinated citizens, said Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday after holding a crisis meeting amid a surge in infections.
In regions where there are more than three COVID-19 patients in hospital per 100,000 inhabitants, only the vaccinated and those who have recovered from the virus will be able to access public places such as restaurants or concert halls.
Most regions in the country are currently above that threshold.
Under the new rules, unvaccinated people — even if they tested negative for COVID-19 — will see their access to many public venues restricted.
The announcement comes after Germany’s lower house of parliament the Bundestag voted on Thursday in favour of new restrictions to curb a surge in coronavirus cases. The plans need to be approved by the upper house, the Bundesrat.
They include new restrictions for the workplace and public transport. People will need to prove they are vaccinated, recovered from COVID-19 or have tested negative for the virus in order to gain access.
Meh. 3G in the public transport and at the workplace, 2G in restaurants and at shows and other events.
FURTHER UPDATE: We ALMOST have a winner! That is, if we mix a bit of two countries.
§1. The prime-minister of Baden-Württemberg adopts the 2G+ model!
In Bars, Clubs und Diskotheken soll künftig 2G plus gelten. Das heißt, dass Geimpfte und Genesene einen Schnelltest vorweisen müssen. Zudem forderte Kretschmann eine Impfpflicht für Beschäftigte in der Pflege.
In bars, clubs and discos, 2G plus is to apply in the future. This means that those who have been vaccinated and those who have recovered will have to show a rapid test. Kretschmann also called for mandatory vaccination for employees in the nursing sector.
§2. Austria makes the vaccine mandatory from February 1, 2022!
To quote Euronews:
Austria is to impose a general lockdown from Monday (November 22), becoming the first EU country to take such a measure in the face of the COVID-19 resurgence.
Conservative Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg has also said that vaccination will become compulsory from February 1.
The announcement comes a few days after the country implemented a nationwide lockdown for people who are unvaccinated, which came into force on November 15.
People 12 years and older are banned from going outside except for essential activities such as work, attending classes, grocery shopping, or for a walk. The number of police patrols has been increased and those found breaking the rules can be fined up to €1,450.
We might be on the path of implementing my Sonderbehandlung: mandatory vaccination and 2G+!
Shock and awe! Viktor Orbán, this Mussolini of today’s Hungary (his recent address at the 29th congress of the Fidesz has been strongly criticized in Germany), has been and is strongly pro-vaccination, unlike most of the others “extremists” / “populists” / “dictators”! Let’s quote from the aforementioned speech:
Instead of creating plans for future decades, today we must mobilise our forces against those who oppose vaccines. Vaccines save lives – and only vaccines save lives. Those who deny this truth, those who dissuade people of it or make them doubt it, those who make fake videos, who spread scare stories, who want to source vaccines on ideological grounds, who would let people die rather than use Chinese or Russian vaccines; well, they are actually and literally endangering the existential interests of the Hungarian people.
But more important is the radio address of Nov. 19, after Austria announced their harsh restrictions: We are in the fourth wave up to our necks:
“We are in the fourth wave up to our necks,” the worst is yet to come, and the only thing that provides protection is the vaccine, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Kossuth Radio’s programme ‘Good morning, Hungary’ on Friday.
The Prime Minister highlighted that the lives of those who have not been vaccinated are at risk. Everyone is responsible for themselves, but there is more at stake now because everyone who has not been vaccinated is a threat not only to themselves, but also to everyone else, he said, adding that the protective measures in place provide no protection against the virus, only slow down the spread of the epidemic.
He said 4 to 6 months after the second dose, the immunity provided by the vaccine starts diminishing, and therefore everyone is advised to receive the third dose. The level of immunity after the third dose is much higher than that after the second dose, and it is naturally much higher than without being vaccinated, Mr Orbán pointed out, adding that he himself received the third dose, has not caught the virus so far, and it is to be hoped that if he does it will not knock him off his feet.
He stated that if everyone had been vaccinated, there would be no fourth wave, or if there were “it would only be a little wavelet”. There will be no fifth wave if everyone has themselves vaccinated, and “we won’t be able to avoid the need for everyone finally having themselves vaccinated,” he stressed.
“In the end, however, everyone will have to have themselves vaccinated, even those who are against the vaccine will realise that either they will have themselves vaccinated or they will die,” he pointed out, asking everyone to take advantage of the opportunity.
He took the view that “you can’t take people to be vaccinated with a police escort,” “only realisation will help in the end”. In his view, people who are opposed to the vaccine must be convinced: they have no reason to have any less faith in the coronavirus vaccine than in the vaccines they received in childhood such as the vaccine against mumps or measles.
Wow. That’s a special kind of “extremist”…
Back to Germany, on Monday, Nov. 22, the German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has been quoted saying (translated):
Presumably, by the end of this winter, everyone will have been vaccinated, recovered or died.
Of course, some people might end as being vaccinated and recovered, or vaccinated and dead, but the overall message is clear and überstark.
Here’s an article in English: Germans will be ‘vaccinated, cured or dead’ by spring, warns health minister:
Probably by the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany — as has sometimes been cynically put — will be vaccinated, cured or dead.