…an in-depth interview by our frantic reporter Nixus Minimax, given on January 14 , 2022, published in three parts.
Part I, published on January 17, 2022
Started in February 2020, the SAJO blog is providing a thread through the pandemic with up-to-date information and suggestions around SARS-CoV-2.
You may zoom in and out using CTRL+ and CTRL-
Welcome to the first SAJO post of 2022!
We wish you all a good start into the new year, may your wishes come true, but most of all we wish you good health, optimism, and confidence!
I want to thank Sabine and Jörg for their invitation to an interview at the year’s beginning.
Nixus Minimax: Sabine and Jörg, welcome to the year 2022. What will we have to expect this year?
Sabine and Jörg: Well, Nixus, we shall stick to the pandemic situation. Politically, there are quite some frightening crises globally, but we are no experts in these fields.
In short-term, we will see an explosion of new infection numbers. The Omicron variant does seem to be less pathogenic than Delta, but don’t fool yourself: Even if 30 % less infected people will have to be hospitalized, a tenfold increased number of new infections will flood hospitals. Europe is heading this way. Just take a look at the US. This is what is happening there. A detailed picture of the current situation is given in an excellent article by Ed Yong in The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2022/01/omicron-mild-hospital-strain-health-care-workers/621193/
The article is available free of charge. It explains how the American health care system had eroded over the past two years. Slowly, step-by-step. Where in 2019 two nurses took care of one ICU patient, now one nurse is taking care of four ICU patients! This development we expect to see here as well.
In the long term, we expect to have the pleasure of more variants, with an unknown outcome.
Should there be no clear-cut, countrywide, uniform measures, there will be failures of critical infrastructure. Politicians must act now, across party lines. Momentarily, they are just pussyfooting around.
Since there is no proper monitoring, we are underestimating the real infection numbers. For a country like Germany, this is a defeat.
Nixus: What do you think of the mRNA vaccines?
Sabine and Jörg: The development of these vaccines in such a short time frame was a true milestone in the vaccination history. Never before was a vaccine obtained with such speed. The mRNA technology was very successful. What a luck.
Studies had shown that the mRNA vaccines made by Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer are providing the best level of protection, when compared to other vaccines.
These two are also best when looking at the Omicron variant, while “classical” vaccines such as those by Sinopharm and Sinovac are useless against Omicron. This is worrying us since China has not licensed any mRNA vaccines yet. And Omicron is present there now. 1.5 billion susceptible hosts for the virus. Let’s just hope for the best.
However, as good as the mRNA vaccines are, there are some drawbacks. The biggest disadvantage is the waning immunity after three months, with a total lack of antibodies after six months in most individuals.
These vaccines do not provide a life-long immunity. A bout with COVID-19 does also not provide long lasting immunity. Once the immunity wanes, you are susceptible to another round of infection.
This is not a weakness of the vaccines. The same is true for other seasonal coronaviruses. But these are not as pathogenic as SARS-CoV-2.
The vaccines are protecting you from severe disease, even if this means to get booster shots after 3 months. You don’t want to miss this level of protection during this pandemic.
Of course, this is opening an ethical as well as a virological problem. We are talking about booster shots, while 3 billion people have yet to receive a first shot. These regions will provide us with new variants in the future. This cannot continue to be the case.
Nixus: Did the vaccines make a difference, then?
SAJO: This we have been asked a lot. No serious scientist for infectious diseases ever claimed these vaccines would protect from infection. Such vaccines are very rare. These statements have been made by politicians, mostly, trying to find an easy way out of the situation.
The currently available vaccines are protecting from a severe or deadly course. A vaccinated person with an intermediate severity of disease would have been on a ventilator without the vaccine.
In short: The vaccines have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and they have kept hospitals from being overwhelmed.
One thing that rarely makes it into the news: Shortage of staff due to disease will have dramatic consequences when it comes to critical infrastructure. This is being ameliorated by a broad vaccination. These vaccines are a big success story. They alone will not lead us through this situation, though. To that end, we also need responsible behavior by individuals. This includes the donning of N95 masks as well as risk aversion. Do I really need to book a trip on a cruise ship these days? Is my life depending on a week of skiing?
Nixus: Many are waiting for the “dead vaccines”. What are your thoughts?
The term is misleading. None of the vaccines licensed in the EU are based upon a replicating virus. Hence, they all are “dead vaccines”. There is no replication. It makes no sense to wait for an inactivated whole-virus-vaccine. Whoever is not taking a vaccine now, is no vaccine skeptic. The facts about the vaccines are there. Only antivaxxers are refusing to be vaccinated.
Now, we also know that the inactivated vaccines, such as those by Sinovac or Sinopharm, are providing little or no protection from Omicron.
Our previous post is giving more details about the “dead vaccine fairy tale”. https://www.sajo-innovation.de/blog/the-dead-vaccine-fairy-tale/
Nixus: What do you think: Is it possible to bring around the vaccine opponents, to persuade them?
The hard core antivaxxers, we’d estimate about 5 % of the German population, cannot be reached with facts and arguments. Their behavior is like that of a cult. They are living the “confirmation bias”, i.e., they only pick up points that seem to support their opinion, even if these are proven false claims.
However, there is a larger number of people, who may be reached. These people are either insecure due to the barrage of falsehoods by the antivaxxers, or they are just procrastinating: “Tomorrow, I’ll get my vaccine”, but tomorrow never comes. Only information helps against insecurity. This is a point where we hold the German print media accountable.
The reputable press is reporting well researched and well-written articles about the pandemic. But these articles are kept behind a pay wall. At the same time, all the fake and false information is freely available. This is a scandal!
In the UK and the US, all the reliable media are making articles about COVID-19 available free of charge. The same is true for the big scientific publishers. Everyone has access to this information for free. Not every household is able to subscribe to several news outlets. Thus, there is a slope in information access, which is hitting those hardest who are just trying to make ends meet. In the US, private foundations are supporting publishers. Why is this not happening in Germany? The federal government could pitch in as well. This is driving us nuts.
Hence, we are calling for a free access to all articles around SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 published in Germany! This call is going to the reputable press, such as Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, FAZ and many more.
Nixus: Who do you think are those most vulnerable now that Omicron has landed?
Most vulnerable to Omicron are people with chronic diseases, the elderly, pregnant women, and most of all those not vaccinated.
You may imagine the following: Your house catches fire. You call the fire department. The fire department is well equipped with vehicles, machines, protective equipment, and most of all, well trained firemen. Within hours, the fire is extinguished. That’s how it works within a vaccinated person.
Now let’s take a look at an unvaccinated person: Your house catches fire. You call the fire department. The fire department is well equipped with vehicles, machines, protective equipment, and with highly motivated, but untrained firemen. They now receive a two-week intensive training. Then they are deployed to your place. Meanwhile, your house burned to the ground, as did the whole neighborhood.
Vaccines are preparing your immune system for the case of emergency.
Nixus: Would you vaccinate children?
We recommend to vaccinate children. We would vaccinate our own children. Indeed, Omicron is raging through the young, affecting children and babies. There you also see severe outcomes as well as Long-COVID. Thus, we are appealing for a protection of the young by vaccines.
You’ll find information to the vaccination of children here: https://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMoa2117995?articleTools=true
Nixus: This was part I of our interview with Sabine and Jörg, two infectious disease experts. To be continued tomorrow with questions around the real problem with SARS-CoV-2, and if a mandatory vaccination will make sense. Stay tuned. Yours, Nixus Minimax, the frantic reporter.
SAJO – for a healthy and better future!
SAJO is consulting all around infectious diseases. We are applying our know-how, that we have acquired in more than 20 years. We do what we can to fight this pandemic.
We thank Oliver Hoogvliet for his wonderful cartoons. It is always a pleasure! ollihoo (https://hoogvliet.de).
This is post No. 208. To our delight our blog is receiving a lot of acceptance, we love to share our know-how and expertise. Please feel free to share the link – it is an informative tool to fight this pandemic. We would appreciate, if our German colleagues in medicine and politics cited us when retrieving information from here.
(Note: We are no members of political parties, religious congregations, or societies. We value independence, sovereignty, and freedom. With our blog we are providing purely scientific advice, without conflict of interest, altruistic. We are not being paid for it.)
SAJO’s heart is the hightechnology, that enables us to find and to isolate antivirals and antibacterials of the next generation, which are then developed to new drugs. These are SAJO’s unique selling points and strength.
#1 Should you like to have SAJO antivirals or antibacterials, or to give a contract, or need consultation, or to invest into SAJO, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may use the formular at our homepage or phone number or email.
#2 On a regular basis we are asked for ideas. For ideas please feel free to contact us as well. You may use the formular at our homepage or phone number or email.
The SAJO business model: https://www.sajo-innovation.de/sajo-Flyer.pdf