Australia now averages more than 100,000 new Covid cases per day — equal to about 1.5 million in the United States. One fine day last week, it reported 175,000, the equivalent of about 2.5 million, maybe the highest per-capita total any country has ever reported.
Not even six months ago, Australia was still chasing zero Covid and patting itself on the back for “Doughnut Days” — with no new Covid infections. …
By the way, Australia is among the world’s most Covid vaccinated countries.
Its policy of open coercion and discrimination against the unvaccinated has “succeeded” — more than 95 percent of Australians 16 and over have received at least one vaccine dose, and 93 percent two doses. Those figures effectively represent full vaccination — many of the people left are probably simply too frail to tolerate Covid vaccines [or prefer not to get one].
Deaths are still relatively low by American standards. But they have risen sixfold in the last two weeks and are now at their highest level ever, equal to almost 700 deaths in the United States a day.
The trend adds to other worrisome signs about Omicron in highly vaccinated countries.
At this point two facts about Omicron are near-certain:
1. Vaccinated people are at HIGHER risk of being infected with Omicron than the unvaccinated (and whatever protection boosters offer does not last). …
2. Omicron is less dangerous than earlier variants. But how much less dangerous is not entirely clear, because infections have risen so fast that hospitalizations and deaths are still catching up. … In Britain, infections peaked 10 days ago, but deaths are still soaring; they have tripled since late December.
Unfortunately, at this point we still do not know how those two facts interact.
In other words, if you are vaccinated and infected with Omicron, will your risk of being hospitalized or dying the same, higher, or lower than someone who is infected but unvaccinated? Remember, because their risk of infection is higher, a vaccinated person will need to have substantial post-infection protection to have an overall lower risk of serious outcomes. …
The British data (which is far better and more honest than American data) make clear that throughout the fall, vaccinated people made up the vast majority of deaths from the Delta variant in the United Kingdom. That’s the truth, despite the efforts to “age-adjust” (but not comorbidity adjust) it away.
Australia is now offering similar numbers. Its most populated province just reported that in the week ended Jan. 1, 12 people who died of Covid were fully vaccinated, compared to only four who were unvaccinated (four others were partially vaccinated or had an undetermined status).
Vaccines make you more likely to catch omicron, but is the protection against hospitalization enough to outweigh that? And the general immune fatigue that leaves you more vulnerable to everything else? Still unknown.
Again, we are too new to Omicron to know for sure whether vaccine protection against serious disease has gone negative. The question will be very complicated epidemiologically (good news for the vaccine companies) and most scientists will not want to touch it (even better news for them).
But it will be very hard to hide the reality in Australia, with a nearly totally vaccinated population that has no preexisting immunity.
Truth might emerge eventually, but some bureaucrats and politicians are going to try to prevent it.
hat-tip Scott of the Pacific, Stephen Neil