Archive for the ‘COVID – Breakthrough Infections’ Category

NYT: “CDC withheld critical data on vax effectiveness”

February 21, 2022

Political “throttling” and fear that data was flawed and might be misinterpreted.

Point of emphasis: This is coming from the New York Times !

Two full years into the pandemic, the agency leading the country’s response to the public health emergency has published only a tiny fraction of the data it has collected.

The agency has withheld critical data on boosters and hospitalizations.

For more than a year, the CDC has collected data on hospitalizations for Covid-19 and broken it down by age, race and vaccination status.

But it has not made most of the information public.

The performance of vaccines and boosters, particularly in younger adults, is among the most glaring omissions in data the C.D.C. has made public.

When the C.D.C. published the first significant data on the effectiveness of boosters in adults younger than 65 two weeks ago, it left out the numbers for a huge portion of that population: 18- to 49-year-olds, the group least likely to benefit from extra shots, because the first two doses already left them well-protected.

The agency has repeatedly come under fire for not tracking so-called breakthrough infections in vaccinated Americans


When challenged, the CDC didn’t deny the allegations, but rather, offered up 3 explanations for why they withheld the data:

> Data isn’t accurate enough.

The collected data was “sampling data“ that was “not yet ready for prime time” because “data systems at the C.D.C., and at the state levels, are outmoded and not up to handling large volumes of data.”

> Data might be misinterpreted.

“The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public because they might be misinterpreted (by anti-vaccine groups) as indicating that the vaccines were ineffective.”

> Data is politically throttled

“The C.D.C. is a political organization as much as it is a public health organization. The steps that it takes to get (data) released are often well outside of the control of many of the scientists that work at the C.D.C.”


But, not to worry since the C.D.C. has received more than $1 billion to modernize its data collection and systems.

That works for the data accuracy defense  … but does nothing to heal the self-inflicted wounds: fear of what the “unwashed” will do with the data … or, screening the data for political reasons.

It’s hard to “follow the data and the science” when the scientists are withholding the data.

Trust but verify, right?

More re: covid infection and immunization…

October 13, 2021

As we posted previously ……

In their original application for approvals, the vaccine companies cited clinical studies demonstrating very high protection from symptomatic infection.

in Pfizer’s recent application to get an Emergency Use Authorization for booster shots, the company submitted data indicating that effectiveness against infection starts high (90% immediately after the 2nd shot) …  but it wanes down to around 40% 6 months later.


The good news: Confirmation of symptomatic infection protection soon after getting vaccinated.

The bad news: A relatively quick waning of the infection protection.

Consistent with the Pfizer data…

CNN reports two real-world studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, provide some data that complements Pfizer’s.

One study looked at actual infections among the  population of Qatar — a small Gulf nation that’s nearly fully vaccinated.

The conclusions:

> Protection against hospitalization and death builds quickly and stays at above 90%,

> Protection against infection:

  • Builds rapidly after the first dose
  • Peaks in the first month after the second dose
  • Wanes after the first month, gradually at first but …
  • Accelerating after the fourth month  down to approximately 20% in subsequent months.

Key point: Protection against infection drops more than Pfizer’s reported: 20% vs. 40%.


A second study, in Israel, tracked 4,800 health care workers, measuring neutralizing antibodies — the immune system’s first line of defense against infection which correlates with protection against infection

The main conclusion:

Antibody levels wane rapidly after two doses of vaccine “especially among men, among persons 65 years of age or older, and among persons with immunosuppression.”

Key point: Protection against infection starts high but wanes quickly for high risk groups.


In combination, Pfizer’s data and these 2 studies seem to indicate:

> Pfizer’s vaccine provides a very  high level of protection against severe covid disease, hospitalization and death … and, that the protection “remains strong” with minimal waning.

> And, while the vaccine does provide substantial protection against infection early-on, that protection wanes quickly after a couple of months … especially for seniors and people with immune system issues.

Biden: “No transmission if vaccinated’ … say, what?

October 12, 2021

Apparently, he didn’t read last week’s HomaFiles posts.

I’ve been trying hard to understand the risk that I, a vaccinated person, have of getting infected and transmitting covid to, say, my grandkids.

Last week, we observed that:

> In their original EUA applications, the vaccine companies made no claims that the vaccines would prevent asymptomatic infections … they just claimed protection against symptomatic infections.

> Nonetheless, the CDC web site advised: “It is very rare for a vaccinated person to get infected and transmit the virus.”

See Fauci: CDC is flying blind on post-vax infections…

> More recently,, CDC Director Walensky clarified that:  “Though covid vaccines work “exceptionally well”  against hospitalization and death, they can’t prevent transmission anymore. So, we should expect thousands of breakthrough infections.”

See CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”

> And, Pfizer data indicates that vaccinations do provide roughly 90% protection against infection soon after being fully vaccinated … but, that the protection waned down to about 40% after 6 months.

See Still more vax math: What about booster shots?

Using the Pfizer data, we ballparked that about 1/2 of recent infections might be attributable to breakthrough infections and transmission by fully vaccinated people.

See Covid data: More about breakthrough infections and viral transmission…


All of the above notwithstanding, last week President Biden veered off his teleprompter  and  declared that all healthcare workers should get vaccinated because doing so provides “certainty that the people providing your care … cannot spread it to you“.

click to view

Doesn’t he know that his scientists (and their data) are saying that vaccinated people can still spread the virus.

As climate czar John Kerry might say: “The President was unaware” … or, or he was intentionally misinforming.

Competence or honesty?

And, some people wonder wonder why a majority of Americans (and 2 out of 3 of Independents) think Biden is either incompetent or dishonest.

Covid data: More about breakthrough infections and viral transmission…

October 8, 2021

As we posted yesterday ……

In its recent application to get an Emergency Use Authorization for booster shots, Pfizer submitted data indicating that effectiveness against infection starts high (90% immediately after the 2nd shot) …  but it wanes down to around 40% 6 months later.


From this data, we can infer some things about viral transmission … since infection is an obvious prerequisite to transmission.

Early on, soon after people get vaccinated, the risk of infection is very low, so the risk of transmission is very low.

But, as the vaccine’s protection from infection wanes, the transmission risk (among vaccinated people) increases.

The impact is, shall we say, statistically significant.

How significant?

Let’s run some numbers…


How many transmitters?

In rough numbers that are good enough to calibrate the transmission impact, about 200 million people have been vaccinated and about 100 million haven’t been.

Using those ballpark numbers to determine the magnitude of effect …

In the spring, shortly after the first rush-to-get-vaccinated, there were about 100 million unvaccinated people who were vulnerable to infection and, thus, transmission.

At the same tome, 10% (the inverse of 90%) of the vaccinated people, about 20 million, were vulnerable to infection and transmission.

So, the total number of people vulnerable to infection and transmission was 120 million.

But, 6 months later, as the vaccinations aged & waned, 60% of the vaccinated people, about 120 million were vulnerable to infection and transmission.

So, the total number of people vulnerable to infection and transmission was 220 million … over half of whom were fully vaccinated.


So what?

Everybody knows that cases started spiking this summer.


The culprits behind the spike: the Delta variant … and unvaccinated people.

Or, so we’ve been told,

Delta is guilty as charged, but …

Because of the aging of Spring vaccination shots … and the associated waning of infection protection … our rough-cut estimate is that, pre-booster shots, more than half of the people spreading the virus are probably vaccinated people whose infection protection has waned.

They’re unindicted (and unnamed) co-conspirators behind the spike in cases.

In stats-speak: Bayes is alive and well … but oft-overlooked.

Who to believe: Vax developers or Fauci or the CDC … or Rachel Maddow?

October 6, 2021

Earlier this week we posted

1. The CDC web site says that it is very rare for a vaccinated person to get infected and transmit the virus.

2. Fauci opined a similar view in a CNBC interview but backed down when confronted with some compelling anecdotal evidence and a dearth of CDC data to the contrary.

3. CDC Director Walensky told CNN that we should expect “tens of thousands of breakthrough infections and hundreds of thousands of daily cases.”

How to square this circle of opinions?

Let’s go back to the beginning…


The Vax Companies

When the vax companies applied for Emergency Use Authorizations, they presented clinical trial results that evidenced 90% or better protection against symptomatic infections.

But, the companies were silent on protection against asymptomatic infections (now estimated as about 3 in 4 covid infections).

The simple reason: Their clinical trials didn’t measure asymptomatic infections.

So, little could be inferred from the data regarding transmission.

Perhaps the vax companies should have been even more loudly explicit about the limitations on their claims.


Because their silence provided misinformers a window of opportunity to, well, misinform.


The Misinformers

Case in point: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow — the font of truth for roughly half of the country.

Earlier this year, Maddow ironically — in a characteristic  rant about misinformation — preached to her devotees that “you are like 90% less likely to get infected and transmit to anybody else” … so get vaxxed or you might kill somebody.

Again, keep in mind that the clinical studies didn’t track asymptomatic infections … the 90% applied only to symptomatic (and test confirmed) cases.

click to view the priceless part of Maddow’s rant

Maddow’s view was totally unsupported by any data  … but, it was emotionally supportive of the pro-vaccine narrative and caught on with other left-leaning amateur-scientific-influencers … who probably didn’t read the vax companies’ EUA applications or fret over the lack of supporting data.

Bottom line: Maddow’s admonition, albeit factless at the time, was compelling and contagious.



Apparently, Fauci bought into Maddow’s riff until CNBC’s Sarah Eisen asked for the data and he had to admit that the data was limited since the CDC hadn’t been doing surveillance studies to track asymptomatic infections..

See:  Fauci: CDC is flying blind on post-vax infections


CDC Director Walensky

Walensky — while likely unaware of what the CDC was pitching on its web site — is probably trying to walk back to the more realistic view that the vaccines are highly effective … but their promised efficacy is limited to symptomatic and severe infections. … and that the total effectiveness against infections (including asymptomatic infections) wanes over time.

See: CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”


So, who to believe?

CDC Director: “Covid vaccines can’t prevent transmission”

October 5, 2021

Now, I’m officially confused.

Yesterday, we posted about a CNBC interview with chief political-scientist Anthony Fauci.

Fauci opined that vaccines prevent covid transmission rates … but when confronted with strong anecdotal evidence to the contrary and asked a pointed question, he conceded that the CDC lacked the data to support that conclusion … but, not to worry the data was likely coming.

New scientific method?


Drilling down, the CNBC interviewer, Sarah Eisen, read to Fauci from the CDC web site:

“The greatest risk of transmission is among unvaccinated people who are much more likely to get infected, and therefore transmit the virus.

Fully vaccinated people get COVID-19 (known as breakthrough infections) far less often than unvaccinated people.”

That’s when Fauci conceded that the CDC didn’t have the supporting data.


Despite Fauci’s admission that the CDC didn’t have much data on breakthrough infections, CDC Director Walensky took to the airwaves to proclaim that:

1. Though covid vaccines work “exceptionally well”  against hospitalization and death, they “can’t prevent transmission anymore”. and …


2. We should expect thousands of breakthrough infections, and …



3. We might potentially experience several hundred thousand cases a day!



So, which is it?

> Fauci says not to worry about breakthrough infections if you’re vaccinated

> The CDC web site says not to worry because breakthrough infections are few and far between

> CDC Director Walensky says to expect tens of thousand breakthroughs and hundreds of thousands daily cases … hardly “rare” instances.

It’s hard to follow the science when data is scarce … and  the scientists, who are supposedly reading from the same hymnal, offer widely different “guidance”.

Confusing, right?

P.S. Note that Walensky’s verbatim was ““can’t prevent transmission anymore”.

Wonder what she meant by “anymore” …


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