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Does Prior Exposure to Coronaviruses Protect You?

There’s a new paper out that clears up some of our thinking about the current pandemic and what protection people might have had before the latest coronavirus showed up. As so many people know by now, there are a lot of coronaviruses running around out there, and they are responsible for a small-but-real fraction of “common cold” type illnesses every year. Here’s the CDC page on that topic, and here (from Wikipedia) is the phylogenetic tree of coronaviruses in general.

A lot of people have had one or more of the coronaviruses that are listed on the CDC page (229E, NL63, OC43, HKU1). But none of these are in the exact same family as the current beast – the first two are alpha-coronaviruses and are fairly closely related to each other. The second two are in another genus, beta-coronaviruses, and are also pretty closely related to each other, but they’re off in a different lineage inside the beta-coronaviridae compared to the SARS-type coronaviruses like the current one. All of these things have “spike” proteins decorating them, but the spikes themselves vary in sequence, enough so that some of them have found completely different surface proteins to use for viral entry, as opposed to the SARS ones going for the ACE2 protein.

Still, immunology being what it is, the question has been open whether the B-cell and T-cell memory of past infections with these other coronviruses might give a person some protection against the current one. I’ve wondered about that here on the blog myself. It’s not at all a crazy idea, because what we have seen is that there are people out there who with cross-reactive antibodies that can bind to the pandemic coronavirus, some of these in blood samples from well before the current one started going through the human population. but (until now) we’ve lacked enough hard data to say.

Here’s the MedrXiv version of the paper under discussion, and here’s the version coming out now in Cell. The authors looked at 431 pre-pandemic blood samples, and compared them to 251 samples from people who have been infected in the current outbreak and recovered, as well as analyzing antibody profiles in people who are currently hospitalized. What they’ve found is first, that most people have indeed been infected with one or more of the “garden-variety” coronaviruses. The pre-pandemic samples show plenty of antibody responses to these. Second, about 20% of these patients raised antibodies that do cross-reaction with the Spike or nucleocapsid proteins of the current pandemic coronavirus. And what’s more, levels of such antibodies are elevated when a person in this group gets infected with SARS-Cov2: the immune system memory (as present in these patients’ B cells) responds by increasing production of the antibodies to the previous coronaviruses.

But here’s the key part: “cross-react” does not mean “neutralize” and it does not mean “provide protection from”. These antibodies may or may not have been neutralizing against the other coronaviruses, but they don’t seem to have any such effect on the current one. And in keeping with that, having such cross-reactive antibodies seems to provide no protection against catching SARS-Cov2 or against being hospitalized with it if you do. There’s no difference in the infection/hospitalization rates of the people who had cross-reactive coronavirus serum antibodies ready to go versus those who didn’t. They’re basically useless.

Now, you can still make an argument that the T cell component of immunity might provide some protection after a previous coronavirus infection. The current study didn’t address this directly, but after these results, it’s at least less likely that that’s happening. The authors make a note of this, and also note that pre-existing mucosal antibodies might exert a protective effect (which this study didn’t examine, either). But prior circulating human coronavirus antibodies, even ones that can bind to the current one – those it looks like we can rule out. Which is too bad.

87 comments on “Does Prior Exposure to Coronaviruses Protect You?”

  1. lizzy says:

    Derek
    What do you think of the PanCorona Virus vaccine with multiple spikes from different variants/viruses. Dr Toprol seems to be pushing it.

    1. Derek Lowe says:

      Still getting my head around that one! But obviously I hope it’s possible. . .

      1. Giannis says:

        This seems to be the best approach I have seen so far

        https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.11.17.387092v1

    2. Martin says:

      What if we made a self replicating RNA vaccine with error prone polymerase to automatically churn out a few hundred variants of spike protein?

      1. AVS-600 says:

        I know they aren’t actually the same thing, but it’s amusing how close this question sounds to “what if we designed a coronavirus”?

        1. Oudeis says:

          Distribution problems: solved!

          “Public health experts now recommend banning masks in public and ordering all residents to participate in church sing-alongs to maximize spread of the new vaccine.”

          1. confused says:

            Wasn’t one of the polio vaccines actually contagious?

          2. Oudeis says:

            I had never heard that, but it’s interesting.

            I imagine the original vaccines for smallpox were contagious, since (IIRC) they were just a less deadly strain of smallpox, and then cowpox.

          3. JS says:

            Indeed, the oral polio vaccine, which is a live attenuated vaccine, is contagious. Unfortunately it also sometimes mutates back into a form causing paralysis. This is one of the main problems when it comes to eradicating polio. Currently there are actually many more such cases than cases caused by wild type polio virus. See, for example, here:
            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polio_eradication

          4. Oudeis says:

            Yikes. I had no idea. Nature never plays fair, does it?

        2. Ilya says:

          I already now a self replicating RNA beast with an error prone polymerase. It’s called HIV.

  2. Walter Sobchak says:

    Still wanting to know whether there is a systemic difference between those who get asymptomatic infections and those who wind up in a hospital? immune history, comorbidities, or genetics?

    1. passionlessDrone says:

      Same, I kind of thought the angle up until now was that previous exposure to a similar covid strain was protective. Doesn’t seem to really hold too much water based on this. (?)

  3. Joe says:

    Is a study of 251 samples large enough to draw conclusions about hospitalizations or deaths given how widely COVID outcomes vary? It seems to rule out any large slam-dunk protective effect, but I’m not sure anyone serious thought it would be more than a marginal effect.

  4. Grebs says:

    Interesting data. I wonder if the problematic assumption is having direct correlation between infection and serious disease. If it actually takes a detour all the way around autoantibodies to the whole panoply of possible unknown effects to the immune system and risk factors might mean designing a trial is hard. Could be barking up wrong tree with pcr just hoovering up everyone and everything.

  5. CB says:

    Take care that some good neutralizing antibodies still may stimulate the cytokine storm : a recent paper in Science shows that IgG antibodies against SARS-Cov2 lacking the fucose sugar in their Fc domain elicit stronger FcγRIIIa responses and thus amplify pro-inflammatory cytokine release and acute phase responses and thereby increase COVID-19 severity. https://lnkd.in/dbY2XuQ

  6. hse says:

    To the extent cats can be coronavirus carriers, and presuming that cat owners may have been preferentially exposed to various members of the coronavirus family as a result, has a study been published to see if there’s a protective effect to owning a cat from global mortality studies of the two groups?

    1. Think of the kittens, won’t somebody to think of the kittens? says:

      Cats keep your place clear of mice, most rats, crawling things and if you have 2 sibling kitties, boredom. They’re basically anti-disease warriors, to the extent an animal can be.
      If Europe of the Middle Ages had more and somewhat larger cats they could’ve avoided the black death.

      1. Charles H. says:

        IIUC (dubious) you’re probably wrong. The black plague was supposed to be spread by the European Black Rat, which likes to live in groups in attics. Cats would probably be no more effective against that than against squirrels. Perhaps *slightly* more effective, but not much.

        1. confused says:

          How common were attics in medieval peasants’ homes though?

  7. M says:

    Derek, your blog is a tremendously helpful resource. This is where I come to get accurate information concerning COVID and immunology.

  8. Biowulf says:

    On the BBC News website this very morning…

    “Europe’s oldest person survives Covid just before 117th birthday”
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-56005488

    “…Lucile Randon, who took the name of Sister Andre in 1944, tested positive for coronavirus on 16 January but didn’t develop any symptoms. She told local media she ‘didn’t even realise I had it’.”

    “She has been very lucky,” David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte Catherine Labouré retirement home, said.

    “She showed no fear of the disease. On the other hand, she was very concerned about the other residents.”

    CNN and the New York Times also report the teenage Lucile Randon lived through the 1918-19 flu pandemic and didn’t catch the disease. And that on her 117th birthday last week Sister Andre enjoyed her usual lunchtime tipple.

    The New York Times also reports, “The coronavirus swept through the nursing home last month, just as nurses began consulting residents about vaccinations; 81 of its 88 residents became infected, including Sister André, and 11 eventually died.”

    So how come the asymptomatic Sister Andre so protected..? Quick opinion poll. Please pick as many as you like, except 1) mutually exclusive with any of the rest…

    1) False positive coronavirus test result (or double false positive if tested twice)
    2) T cells and/or autoimmune response honed by 116 years of practice
    3) Reigning European Longevity Champion (and World Number Two) with immune response befitting of a true champion
    4) Infected by minimal viral load
    5) Tough cookie with positive mental attitude and concern for others
    6) Divine provenance (by implication the good sister has devoted herself to the Almighty for the last 77 years)
    7) Any other suggestion you care to come up with

    …Can be of interest to challenge a hypothesis with an outlier.

    1. Marko says:

      ” 7) Any other suggestion you care to come up with ”

      Easy. She’s a hydroxychloroquine junkie, and her passionate appetite for raw oysters keeps her zinc levels elevated.

    2. Marko says:

      Alternate hypothesis:

      She frequently sunbathes in the nude, meaning her Vit D levels are off the charts.

    3. PJK says:

      Alternate hypothesis:

      8) Medicinal doses of Green Chartreuse.

  9. confused says:

    Hmm, interesting.

    What part of the world were the samples from?

    1. Biowulf says:

      Toulon, southern France

      1. confused says:

        Hmm, only one location?

        The reason I am wondering is the odd disparity in death rates between the New World tropics (often very high – eg Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia etc.) and the Old World tropics (universally very low by comparison — even India with a high absolute number of deaths has a far better per-capita rate than e.g. Germany or Canada).

        There are so many different forms of government etc. included that it seems hard to attribute this to universally good policies — so I was wondering if there could be some ‘environmental exposure’ factor that ‘pre-primed’ the immune system…

        1. Marko says:

          You two are talking about different things. Biowulf is talking about the 117 yr-old nude-sunbathing nun.

          1. Biowulf says:

            Thank you for responses. Three one liners, two clarifications and an inadvertent digression not a lot to go on, but here goes anyway – in spirit of open and questioning mind. Scrolling up and down other comments, some interesting observations on global variations that may reflect some form of underlying local prior immunity.

            Chemist acquaintance from time to time known to jibe that, in the here and now, fundamental understanding in biological sciences is on a par with understanding of chemistry around the year nineteen hundred. With the possible exception of molecular biology. Chemistry, eh, who’d be doing with it – Haber-Bosch, mustard gas, antibiotics, the bomb, silicon chips.

            Maybe three one liners, two clarifications and a digression say it all. As Derek Lowe and commenters point out, virology, immunology and epidemiology don’t yet have a secure handle on “prior immunity.”

            Or for that matter on “prior susceptibility,” “viral load,” “asymptomatic spread,” or the interplay of any number of factors that influence how a virus spreads. Long list of shortcomings certainly not for want of trying, with some of the cleverest scientists on the planet deploying some of the most advanced and sophisticated techniques known to science.

            Yet just under a year ago here in the UK, the general public was assured by government that restrictive policies, unprecedented in peace time in the modern era, and with unprecedented consequences for businesses, livelihoods and educations, were driven by “The Science” and “the scientific evidence.”

            Chemist acquaintance also heard to say only way to stop UK viral epidemic would have been to shut down all air and sea ports around 1 Feb 2020, and to shut down pretty much everything else within the country too. Wuhan tactics, New Zealand variant. Fortress Britain. Until further notice. No clamour whatsoever at the time for that from UK politicians, Public Health, scientific advisors or the general public. Just not a practical proposition.

            Instead scientific supposition, glorified superstition and loads of sticking plaster all round to “stop the spread” and “control the virus.” And the official stats now say upwards of one hundred and twenty thousand have died in the UK. And might have been tragically even worse, but for all the heroism and personal sacrifice of doctors and nurses working in NHS hospitals.

            Latest proposed governmental follies are quarantine hotels, yet more ten grand fines and up to ten year jail sentences for deviant online form fillers. All in cause of combating the latest mutants – latest addition to long list of pots and pans with insecure handles. Stables, horses, doors and All That.

            Similar restrictive policies applied in any number of countries around the globe, based on science and evidence far from compelling by physical sciences standards.

            For a start, predictive modelling of viral spread, assuming an immunologicaly naïve population, blithely computed without any definitive knowledge of the role of prior immunity. Maybe prior immunity exists, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe in some regions, but not in others, in some towns but not in others, in some households but not in others. For sheer, breathtaking, bravado and braggadocio, predictive modelling can sometimes take some beating.

            By way of another example – that paper in Nature Communications last November co-authored by China- and Western-based academics and public health officials (S Cao et al, Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China. Nat Commun 2020, 11, 5917). For all I know, could well be one of the largest scale nucleic acid screenings of all time of samples taken from human beings.

            Replicate RT-PCR viral testing carried out in late May and early June 2020, around six weeks after the epidemic had abated. Taken at face value, not one single remaining case identified in a city of over ten million people, four months earlier reported on the brink of being ravaged by disease.

            Taking the Nature Comms paper at further face value, over one hundred thousand Wuhan residents caught the virus, of whom around five thousand died. Spread duly stopped in tracks, both within Wuhan and beyond, by restrictive measures brought in from 23 January 2020. Infection-Fatality Ratio around five percent. YouTube since posted of teens having fun en masse around a Wuhan pool last August. Good for them.

            A contradictory thought experiment: four million residents of Wuhan had some form of functioning prior immunity, another four million caught the virus, forty thousand died. Infection-Fatality Ratio around one percent. “City immunity” attained by early April 2020.

            Arguably the tried and tested pathway of viral epidemics down the ages. FYI, pre-print paper on medRxiv dated 16 June 2020 cites links to Wuhan crematoria records, but for some months now links to primary sources 8-12 display “404PageNotFound” (M He et al, Cremation based estimates suggest significant under- and delayed reporting of COVID-19 epidemic data in Wuhan and China).

            Reviewer comments on Nature Communications paper available online. Reviewers took paper at face value. Minimal queries raised. Please take a look for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

            Maybe also consider doing a thought experiment on what life might have been like in Wuhan on 23 January 2020. Bit presumptious from several thousand miles away, I know, but online images of the city do suggest a lot of high rise, highish density living. Nice terrain, says Mr Virus.

            May or may not be additionally relevant, but there’s a paper back in 2005 overviewing the influence of psychological stress on immune response to various common cold viruses, including corona variants (S Cohen, Keynote Presentation at the Eight International Congress of Behavioral Medicine: the Pittsburgh common cold studies: psychosocial predictors of susceptibility to respiratory infectious illness. Int J Behav Med, 2005, 12, 123). Caveat all data presumed from Western settings.

            Sorry ‘Ologists, that’s how it looks to a mere chemist, who elsewhere in this blog stands accused by the man-not-ball brigade of a serious case of Dunning-Krugeritis, and of any number of other sins against humanity too. Ad hominem does tend to be first refuge for the dubiously minded. Glasshouses, stones, chucking and All That.

            Gauntlet duly laid down. Ripostes welcome. Marquess of Queensbury Rules, please. All the world’s a stage. Play’s the thing. Exit Biowulf stage left, right, centre and all over the place. Meanwhile, the Enlightenment lives on in Hull City Hall…

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3-rkkcVxp0

  10. Doug H MD says:

    Derek: a major flaw here seems to be that prior infection with common coronaviruses don’t even protect you from subsequent infections with corona virus of the common variety. So why are we at all surprised here? What am i missing (likely a lot)

    1. Marko says:

      I don’t think you’re missing much. There’s still a lot to be learned about this. It’s possible that for many of us, and particularly among the non-elderly, a level of background T-cell immunity to endemic HCoVs keeps us from getting severe disease once infected with CoV2. Also, maybe not. We don’t know yet, and the authors admit as much :

      “Sometimes it is good when a paper provides more questions than answers. There is still so much to figure out. Recent prior seasonal coronavirus infections are associated with less COVID-19 disease (Sagar 2020), but our study suggest that this protection is not from antibody…..It is possible that pre-existing cellular immunity might play an important role in the context of pandemic viruses that only share non-neutralizing antibody epitopes with previously circulating viral strains.”

      https://twitter.com/SCOTTeHENSLEY/status/1359152017244106753

  11. Not-an-epidemiologist says:

    “There’s no difference in the infection/hospitalization rates of the people who had cross-reactive coronavirus serum antibodies ready to go versus those who didn’t. They’re basically useless.”

    I may be missing something here (and if so, apologies), but I can’t see that they actually tested the infection rate at all.

    As far as I can tell, they collected 251 PCR-positive cases and 251 PCR-negative cases. The antibody titres reactive against one particular human coronavirus (OC43) were not significantly different between the two cohorts, being high in both. That tells us that OC43 infection was prevalent, and everyone had antibodies against it. However, it doesn’t tell us whether the *likelihood* of SARS-CoV-2 infection was the same if you don’t have OC43 antibodies.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think OC43 infection is a likely to make much difference, and it looks like there’s only cross-reactivity with the nucleocapsid protein which we already know isn’t hugely helpful. But I don’t like papers claiming what they haven’t shown — especially when they’ve somehow made it into Cell (how on earth this is deemed worthy of publication in Cell I have no idea, but it hasn’t been a normal year …)

  12. Trottelreiner says:

    If the antibodies aren’t neutralizing, any idea if the immune system churning them up might even make for a less effective immune response to the ne Rona?

    Something akin to

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_antigenic_sin

    which has me somewhat worried if some vaccines against the new rona get the new mutants and some don’t, and only the ones that don’t are available at the moment…

  13. An Old Chemist says:

    This theory of prior ‘coronaviruses exposure’ explains as to why in India covid-19 cases have come down drastically, and the elusive ‘NORMAL’ has arrived there.

    1. Ron says:

      India uses Ivermectin + Vits extensively. They hand out packets similar to the MASK+ protocol. Every little bit helps–even if not proven with RCTs.
      India has over 4x the US population, and 1/10 the death rate. There must be something they are during correctly.

      1. Koss says:

        Younger population?

  14. David Pinto says:

    I would have thought that a non-neutralizing antibody that binds to a virus would still promote phagocytosis of the virus. Is that process just not fast enough to slow down the infection? Or would that bit make the infection somewhat more mild?

  15. Simon Auclair the Great and Terrible says:

    Why is s.e. asia doing so well? What are their locally prelevant coronavirus?

    1. confused says:

      I have been wondering this for months. And it’s not just SE Asia, a relatively defined region which you could at least argue cultural similarities (and thus maybe measures were better followed, or something) – it’s the entire Old World tropics, including India/South Asia and most of Africa. It’s very odd.

      Low median age may help somewhat, but India has the same median age as Mexico/Peru and almost an order of magnitude lower per-capita death rate… I would think vitamin D/climate/seasonality would also be similar to the New World tropics.

      1. DataWatcher says:

        It’s even more baffling when one considers the high rates of poverty, overcrowding (in urban areas), malnutrition/disease/pre-existing conditions, etc. among so many of the population. In most other parts of the world, socioeconomic factors such as these have been devastating.

        1. Bill says:

          Under-reporting?

          Raise your hand if you believe North Korea has zero Covid deaths.
          (Unrealistic example, obviously)

      2. Mal says:

        I have been thinking about this too and I wonder why we aren’t able to assess it more systematically. It seems statistically impossible that, eg, Cambodia and Laos, which have abysmal public health and sanitation infrastructure, have a few hundred cases TOTAL and zero deaths.

        No doubt age structure and underreporting plays a part, but _still_. By any comparable to similar countries in the New World, it seems an impossibility.

        Covid assuredly at some point came from an animal host (we’ll never really know), but most likely a bat, most likely somewhere in SE China, which is part of the general pan-tropical Asian ecoregion. So it seems very likely to me that various less deadly coronaviruses have been circulating in the region for many years and confer some level of immunity to Covid-19 to specific populations that eludes our current measurement ability.

        1. Doug H MD says:

          many had thought that but within region differences are so stark look at Burma versus Thailand. Bats dont respect those borders do they?

          1. Mal says:

            Two thoughts:

            1) they might, if the border falls on a geographical feature. It generally does between those two countries (mountains).
            2) case count is within an order of magnitude between Thailand and Burma, so…at least they are in the ballpark of one another.

  16. Simon Auclair the Great and Terrible says:

    I mean non covid strains there

    1. John Hasler says:

      Could also be zoonoses that people in that region are commonly exposed to but which are not efficiently transmitted from person to person and so remain endemic to the region.

  17. FoodScientist says:

    I think these approaches are mechanistically wrong. Keep in mind the immune system causes severe disease, not the virus. It’s possible it could be related to slowed clearance of misc. immunogenic cellular debris that causes it. Are there any studies of peak viral load vs severity of disease or trophic level? The body MUST take out a virus quickly or get overrun. Then it MUST dial back the response or take collateral damage. But it could be like getting false reports of enemy activity (when it’s just dead enemies laying around), so you keep carpet bombing a city.

  18. Marko says:

    Vaccine-induced immunity provides more robust heterotypic immunity than natural infection to
    emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern.

    https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-226857/v1/5efbbf35-0529-4779-bfce-c4e936a372c3.pdf

    1. Marko says:

      I read their neutralization results a bit differently from what the title suggests. Convalescent sera was either superior or near-equal to one- or two-dose Pfizer vaccine sera vs both the WT and UK variant. Only against the SA variant was the two-dose vaccine far superior, as the convalescent sera activity was almost completely absent.

      Interesting that the one-dose vaccine sera was almost completely ineffective against the UK variant. This doesn’t bode well for the UK rollout strategy if the Oxford/AZ vaccine performs similarly. It would also help explain why the Israel data shows little efficacy until after the second dose.

      I trust this neutralization study more than most because they used the live, authentic virus isolate in all three cases.

      Fig 2-D from the paper :

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Et-b3yiXYAI-eIU?format=jpg&name=small

      1. Doug H MD says:

        the lab correlates of actual in vivo results however are still not well understood. Show me the actual predictive value a priori. All this remains rather speculative in my mind

        1. Marko says:

          I agree that the real-world results need to confirm the story here, but it’s easy enough to figure out what those results should look like to do so. In this case the Pfizer vaccine would be expected to show stepwise decrements in efficacy re: symptomatic infection, from WT to UK variant to SA variant. Real-world data can test the hypothesis.

          My point about this neutralization study in particular is that it’s inherently more believable than most of the junk that’s been foisted on us. Using the full variant mutation repertoire, rather than a selection of a few of the believed “problematic” mutations, and using the wild variant viruses themselves, rather than artificially-constructed pseudotypes, gets you about as close as you can get to the real world in a lab study, outside of doing a human challenge trial. And it’s not like in-vitro neutralization is a new thing as regards “correlates of protection”. It has a history of being validated for other diseases/vaccines, like flu.

  19. asd says:

    Pfizer’s former Chief Scientist for Respiratory addressed the question of whether prior exposure to coronaviruses is protective in the article below from last October. I guess he might now refine some of what he said then, but what he says still makes for interesting reading.
    https://lockdownsceptics.org/what-sage-got-wrong

    1. Chris Phillips says:

      More interesting to psychiatrists than to immunologists or epidemiologists.

      1. R for Rebel says:

        Ah, the good (Dr) Phillips can always be relied upon to insert scalpel in abdomen. Not the usual region for psychiatric investigation, but each good doctor to their own malpractice.

        Twittersphere tells the former Chief Scientist for Respiratory’s Twitter account closed down after shady goings on at hands of the mob. Quick look see uncovered a mobster’s Twitter account open to invited followers only, whereas the former Chief Scientist’s account had been open to all. Modus operandi of mobsters down the ages.

        S for Scalpel, V for Vendetta, R for Rebel Without a Cause, CP for Castor and Pollux, old Cockney rhyming slang for old North Midland rhyming slang of participles. As in… “Don’t let that bast’rd wi’ th’ scalpel anywhere near your participles.”

        Except, (Dr) Phillips, this rebel does have a cause. A simple cause. Truth.

        1. Marko says:

          “Except, (Dr) Phillips, this rebel does have a cause. A simple cause. Truth.”

          A purveyor of truth would want those truths to be easily searchable on a forum like this, simply by searching the truth-tellers handle. On the other hand, someone interested in spreading disinformation, which will be repeatedly disproved by reality, would instead hide cowardly behind a new handle for each new comment, just as you do.

          1. The Scarlet Pimpernel says:

            Two can play that game. For who are you, Marko, who fires off comments like a machine gun any number of times on any number of posts on this blog, a blog I’ve commented on for around ten years on and off, from well before SARS-Cov-2 came along.

            Maybe there’s an in-crowd who know who you are. I certainly don’t. One of any number of Markos who come up on the internet. Clearly very knowledgeable in your field. One possible candidate considered, but doesn’t really fit. Left last known institution in 2019. Doesn’t show up on Linkedin.

            Although at times bit too slick for your own good, if I may say. Quick to insult, glacially slow to retract. Come across plenty of that sort of scientist in my time. Those hotshot PIs referred to in past Pipeline postings by Derek Lowe and commenters. I do wish you wouldn’t slip in those throw away mentions of alcohol intake. The great RBW was of course a legendary tippler. Takes all sorts.

            Clinical immunologist? Academic epidemiologist? State Dept virologist? I’ve no idea. But like to think I’m knowledgeable too. Medicinal chemistry, among other things. An original focus of the Pipeline blog, by the way.

            As for cowardly anonymity, I and others have been on the receiving end of man-not-ball tactics more than enough for me to work out what’s prudent and what isn’t. Pity it’s too much trouble to put cursor on that link to a carefully contructed graphic pillorying “denialists” you posted a few blog posts ago.

            As for spreading disinformation, what disinformation? Here’s a fact: The GOV.UK coronavirus website currently records that by 29 January 2021 a total of 121,674 UK residents had passed away whose death certificate mentioned Covid-19 as one of the causes of death.

            I’m curious to know how come? The meaning behind the numbers. Just as I spent 32.5 years looking for the meaning behind medicinal chemistry numbers – mostly biology numbers a lot of the time. Good, bad and indifferent.

            No longer just the meaning of the science, but also the meaning outside the ivory tower where I now live full time. Not just the meaning provided by GOV.UK, the media, the bar charts and the wisdom of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE…)

            …A scientific group chaired by a knight of the realm who trained as a medic, whose scientific judgment once upon a time got a pretty bad press on this very blog, a scientific group with a leading protagonist OBE, a predictive disease modeller OBE, who trained as a physicist, and who is now shamelessly re-entered on SAGE’s cast list as if he’d never left, which the protagonist OBE of course never did, after the accepted and reported resignation that never was:

            (Paste into search engine: “Transparency data: List of participants of SAGE and related sub-groups. Updated 29 January 2021”)

            Sorry, Marko, UK minority scientist in-joke. You seem to know everything, so no doubt You’ll Know Who. And as you can see, casts of hundreds now on the UK scientific advisory groups. For a start, last time I checked SAGE had 23 members, at latest count now near doubly Ct amplified to over 80.

            No doubt Zoom meetings of 80 fascinatingly insightful and incisive. Protagonist OBE addresses, the zoombies listen, Sir CSA and Prof CMO relay conclusions to a Number Ten occupied by a compulsive blagger, who in all seriousness last summer called a cricket ball a vector of disease (recently disproven in all seriousness in a pre-print in medRxiv). Rapt nation duly addressed at the next daily briefing.

            Even so, hats off to GOV.UK and the SAGEs for the UK’s approach to vaccination. More to the point, hats off to BionTech, Pfizer, Oxford University, AstraZeneca and all the bio-technology process developers, bio-engineers and logistics experts who deliver the supply chains that end up at Sister O’C, who in all tenderness does jabs at the local GP surgery.

            Here’s some more facts: Most of the UK’s 9 million 4-18 year olds have been in school for less than 13 out of the last 48 weeks. Since September 2019, all of the country’s two million students in higher education have experienced two terms of normal student life and three terms of abnormal student life. I’m curious to know how come, especially as two of those 11 million youngsters happen to be my own offspring.

            Here’s another fact: A young man with a disabling condition, who’s (in theory) doing a catering course that he saw as a route to an independent adult life. Course not run since God knows when, and, when met by chance last week, worried and anxious there won’t be any catering jobs anyway, with half the restaurants and pubs gone out of business. Ends and means, eh Marko?

            Perhaps we should think ourselves lucky we don’t live in the Golden State, where I read kids haven’t been in school since last March. Did a postdoc there decades ago. Published a couple of papers. Thought Bay Area a cool and laid back place. Bit of a cliché, I know. Privilege to live there. Slept out under the stars quite a few times. Hadn’t done that before. Ascended Mt Conness. First time at that altitude. Recently come across on SFGATE…

            (Paste into search engine: “Officers at dorms, outdoor exercise ban: UC Berkeley extends dorm lockdown with stricter mandates”)

            …Now who’d have thought it? Seem to recall back in the sixties BBC and the Telegraph reporting Berkeley as hotbed of student protest. People’s Park and All That. LBJ, McNamara and Tricky Dicky’ll be boppin’ in their graves, while Kissinger, aged 97, smiles wryly as ever, and thinks, my my, Mai Lai, how the times they are a changin’. For elephants with longer memories…

            “Berkeley In The Sixties – Trailer (1990)”
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjaoh7UQvcE

            Oh, and a belated thank you, Marko, for the tip about pasting only one web link per comment. Very helpful to a Pipeline poster dismissed a few blog posts back as a rambling gramps.

  20. Big Ol PI says:

    I like to see a lil Trump supporter cum into my lab an we go kaploee on him, cauz he trash

  21. Doug H MD says:

    “Out of 45 mutations assessed, only one from the B.1.351 Spike overlapped with a low-prevalence CD8+ epitope, suggesting that virtually all anti-SARS-CoV-2 CD8+ T-cell responses should recognize these newly described variants.”
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.11.21251585v1.full.pdf

  22. Marko says:

    Cool gif showing the age distribution of new severe disease hospitalizations in Israel over time:

    https://twitter.com/H_Rossman/status/1360259366629367808

    1. DataWatcher says:

      “It works: 0 deaths, only 4 severe cases among 523,000 fully vaccinated Israelis.”

      Definitely very good news. I don’t mean to sound like a tape loop, but when will we start getting good, solid data on post-vaccination transmissibility? Not holding out for complete sterilizing immunity, but it would certainly be addition excellent news if we saw a significant reduction.

      1. DataWatcher says:

        One question, though, RE: “Out of the 523,000 fully vaccinated people, 544 were infected with COVID-19, of whom 15 needed hospitalization: Eight are in mild condition, three in moderate condition, and four in severe condition.”

        Why would “mild” or “moderate” cases require hospitalization?

  23. Doug H MD says:

    Not zero but very good

    “We find high effectiveness of 66-85% in reducing SARS-CoV-2 positive cases and over 90% in reducing severe hospitalizations”
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.02.05.21251139v1

  24. Doug H MD says:

    Well maybe not so rare after all

    Reinfection risk by #SARSCoV2 in seropositive (i.e. previously infected) was remarkably high (~1/5 of those previously uninfected).
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.01.26.21250535v1

    1. DataWatcher says:

      Unless I misread, there’s nothing about severity, which I think might ultimately be the most significant consideration going forward.

  25. Doug H MD says:

    No participant in either group needed inpatient care.

    1. DataWatcher says:

      The study population consisted of “healthy young adults” (Marine recruits, no less), so that’s not entirely surprising.

      1. Doug H MD says:

        not surprising at all, but very reassuring nontheless as it argues against ADE

  26. Marko says:

    France adopts a sensible policy on vaccination of those with previous history of infection – one dose only, minimum 3 months post-infection, preferably 6 months :

    https://www.has-sante.fr/jcms/p_3237271/fr/strategie-de-vaccination-contre-le-sars-cov-2-vaccination-des-personnes-ayant-un-antecedent-de-covid-19

    1. Marko says:

      “Newfoundland and Labrador is under lockdown…..as the province battles the B117 variant of the coronavirus….The “variant of concern” is responsible for this week’s mass outbreak in the capital….There are now 269 active cases in the province, with 253 of them reported in the past five days. The province had 390 total cases of COVID-19 in all of 2020….”

      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/covid-late-briefing-feb-12-1.5913042

      I suspect Florida may be just a couple of superspreading events away from a new outbreak , as the prevalence of the UK variant there is now significant.

    2. DataWatcher says:

      Not to cast doubt on NERVTAG, but wouldn’t we already be seeing dramatic spikes in hospitalization and death rates if this were the case? B.1.1.7 is already the dominant strain in much of the U.S., and so far our numbers seem to be plateauing and/or dropping in most areas.

      1. Marko says:

        “B.1.1.7 is already the dominant strain in much of the U.S…”

        It’s not the dominant strain in any state in the US, yet. Florida may be just a few weeks from that being the case.

  27. Marko says:

    FDA admits they screwed the pooch on antibody tests :

    https://twitter.com/EricTopol/status/1360610210469928965

  28. Marko says:

    Fury at ‘do not resuscitate’ notices given to Covid patients with learning disabilities

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/feb/13/new-do-not-resuscitate-orders-imposed-on-covid-19-patients-with-learning-difficulties?fbclid=IwAR24Tum93UB70dezfyqDXajFmrFwrXiXSZfhgsuQ-aIgjYCBN_dx51p6zQE

    Care home residents, those with learning disabilities – all are just “useless eaters” in the minds of the psychopathic ruling class.

    1. Marko says:

      Speaking of ruling class psychopaths :

      “Andrew Cuomo’s Refusal to Vaccinate Inmates Is Indefensible”

      https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-local-correspondents/andrew-cuomos-refusal-to-vaccinate-inmates-is-indefensible

    2. Meddediah Chem says:

      Glory be unto the Lord! The voice of ruling scientific thought has spoken. Again.

      Although don’t get me started on the ruling class.

      Hard Times, Vanity Fair, Bonfires and All That.

    3. DataWatcher says:

      No wonder so many Black folks (and others) remain convinced that the Tuskegee II era is close upon us . . .

      1. Meddediah Chem says:

        Go read Dickens, Thackeray and Wolfe, who took a wider look at the data of their era. What goes round, goes round.

  29. Marko says:

    Odd. Vit.D works well in Spain, but not in the US, UK, etc. :

    https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3771318

    I don’t think Big Pharma has anything at all to do with this. It must be due to that lousy Mediterranean diet they have in Spain.

    1. L Maclean says:

      Natural Sun/and tanning beds give better uptake. They enhance the amount already in your system by VtB3 intake.

      1. L Maclean says:

        Supplements & UV

    1. DataWatcher says:

      I actually saw a man wearing one of those things, or something virtually identical, at an outdoor music event last summer.

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