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While in principle I agree that vaccine passports can be used (and are in use in many countries to check incoming travellers), and I also agree that it is likely to be counter-productive, I am going to argue that in this case a specific part of your argument doesn't work.

It is this sub-sentence I take issue with:

it is a vindication of the human rights of others to be protected from unnecessary risk of harm.

The substance of the sentence is true - others have the right to be protected from unnecessary risk - but I don't think it applies here.

The current level of protection from the vaccines doesn't appear to give much - if any - protection against catching and spreading the virus. Where Omicron spreads, number of cases rise in both vaccinated and unvaccinated alike (I can give examples if the point is contested, but it takes some digging). There is significant protection against grave illness and death (which IIRC was also what they tested for in the studies before the vaccines were released).

So the vaccinated people in a pub doesn't get a health benefit from a no-unvaccinated rule, they are as likely to catch the virus from any of the vaccinated who are there as they would from unvaccinated. (If the vaccines were so good that you effectively could get not the virus if you are vaccinated, the vaccinated wouldn't get infected at all, but the vaccines are not that good.)

If anyone gets a health benefit it is the unvaccinated that doesn't go to the pub and doesn't catch covid. One can argue (but that isn't the argument you were making) that there is a overall health benefit from not infecting the unvaccinated, in that the hospitals aren't taxed beyond their means. But if the vaccinated gather and increase the spread in society, that makes it more likely that they infect someone unvaccinated at the grocery store. So then we are back to closing the pubs.

And that is really my main objection to covid passports. I don't think they decrease spread, I think they increase spread by lulling people into a false sense of security and allowing unsafe activities as if they were safe. Either you can run a pub with rules that minimise spread, or you can't. And if you can't you either allow it anyway (because Irish needs pubs), or you don't.

by fjallstrom on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 10:51:54 AM EST
I agree that the primary benefit of vaccination is the reduced risk of serious illness, particularly for the elderly, and this has significant implications for Ireland's hugely overstretched health services which have seen a huge reduction in elective and other health services, increased waiting lists for urgent treatments, and morbidity from non Covid causes.

The Irish Times only published two paragraphs out of five in my original letter and you can really only make one point in a letter if you want to have a high chance of it being published.

The fact that vaccination only has a limited benefit in reducing spread is something that has only become clear in relatively recent times, and particularly with Omicron which seems to reside in the nasal tract and upper throat even in vaccinated people, and thus still represents a huge risk of reinfection.

However the comparison I make with intoxicated, uninsured or unlicensed drivers is I think fair. There is only a small statistical increase in the chances that such drivers will cause an accident leading to serious harm, but that is deemed by society to be a sufficient reason to ban them completely.

Mask mandates are still operative in Ireland and that is the best preventative measure we still have. As I say in my comment above I think this debate is about to become moot in Ireland, at least, because a precipitous decline in cases, - unless we get a more virulent variant coming in.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 11:42:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So the vaccinated people in a pub doesn't get a health benefit from a no-unvaccinated rule, they are as likely to catch the virus from any of the vaccinated who are there as they would from unvaccinated.

I think this is probably objectively false. It is the casual lie that because vaccinated can spread the virus then there is no difference between being vaccinated and being unvaccinated. This is not an all-or-nothing situation. The likelihood of transmission from a vaccinated person is almost certainly lower, if for no other reason than that Omicron is not yet the only game in town. Would your opinion be the same if Delta was still the dominant strain?

In the specific case of Omicron the difference might not be so much, but that may be before factoring in the effect of boosters. I suspect it is still too early to draw a definitive conclusion. In any case, even if the difference is nil the fact that we may have gotten lucky with how the virus mutated in this case in no way retroactively justifies a decision to have remained unvaccinated.

by det on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 11:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think  we have enough information yet to declare objective falsehoods. There were reported "breakthrough" infections already with Delta. And even before that.
When discussing likelihoods in risk mitigation, one must also take into the account the frequency of an event.
So even if likelihood of of passing infection is slightly lower with vaccination, but the passport allows for huge raise in possibilities for transfer the end result may will be more transmissions.

I'm personally fully vaccinated (2+booster) and think the passport is mostly security theater to maintain as much as possible business as usual. I've been asked to show my passport three times, but only once with an ID to show that it was actually my vaccination status. Which to me proved the point.

by pelgus on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 12:11:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would suggest that for pre-Omicron variants we probably do have enough information. From memory there was something like a factor of 7 difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated across the board - likelihood of contraction, likelihood of hospitization, likelihood of requiring ICU care. I would be surprised if that did not also extend to likelihood of transmission.

To be clear: solely in the context of Omicron, Fjallstrom may well be spot on. But it is probably not yet the case that "the virus" and "Omicron" can be used interchangeably.

by det on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 12:43:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would be surprised if that did not also extend to likelihood of transmission.

The only metric for viral communicability was/is R(0), a function predicting CASE VOLUME over time and predicated by average P2P contact frequency, promulgated by epidemiologists, the Big Data specialists--not biologists, virologists, or clinicians.

According to my knowledge and belief, general interest in "pre-omicron" variants, circulating the world, has been limited to exactly two (2) by MSM press. However, geneticist had reported variable trajectories in Phylogenetic network analysis of SARS-CoV-2 genomes recovered from serum samples as early as 15 April, 2020.

The network faithfully traces routes of infections for documented coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, indicating that phylogenetic networks can likewise be successfully used to help trace undocumented COVID-19 infection sources, which can then be quarantined to prevent recurrent spread of the disease worldwide.

In the R&D contest for vaccine EUA (Dec 2020), the latter began disseminating structural analyses of SAR-CoV-2 "Wuhan strain" AKA "pre-Alpha" and Alpha (GB "variant of interest", Victoria) which established measures of candidates' efficacy purporting either to retard cellular replication of that specific viral RNA or COVID-19 disease morbidity and mortality rate, regardless of inevitable SARS-CoV-2 genomic variation.

The presumption that virus mutations are "stable" or can be mechanically controlled by simultaneously inoculating every one on the planet with one or two obsolete mRNA remedies, formulated one year ago for one genome sequence, is irrational. Yet it lingers in the popular imagination of the power of R(0), mastery of intangible phenomena and P2P freedom from the "unvaccinated" whose contributions, even sacrifices, to scientific truth and biological diversity are not well-understood.

by Cat on Fri Jan 21st, 2022 at 04:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have tried, and failed, to linkable find sources to back me up. They are not linkable as they are often news items in Swedish on local television, or in the spoken portion of reports to the local hospital board, but here is what I have got regarding Sweden:

  • Omicron is, at least now and at least here, for practical purposes the only game in town. Latest waste water analyses discussed on local news was all Omicron.
  • Spread was during the small delta wave here more among the unvaccinated (but that could also mean it was more among the young), however since November the spread numbers has been very similar among vaccinated and unvaccinated. If being unvaccinated is a random factor, you would get that result, but if it is correlated to various social factors, you would get heavier outbreaks among unvaccinated groups. And we haven't seen that.

Obviously if there are studies on the amount of virus exhaled among vaccinated and unvaccinated, that would settle the specific point.

However to be honest, unless there is a spectacular difference, I wouldn't change my mind on the passports. Because what we really need is to estimate the amount of virus in the indoor air, and in most pubs it will reach an unhealthy level even with just vaccinated, because most indoor places are not enough ventilated. Hence the yearly cold season.

Just to be clear, I think vaccinations are for most people a good thing to prevent serious illness and death. I got my covid booster shot friday and got my flu shot at the same time (the weekend was less fun). It is Covid passports I think is at best a wash, and potentially a bad public health policy. A massive air quality and ventilation program for public spaces (with heat exchange so save energy) would in my opinion be better.

by fjallstrom on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 01:06:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Vaccination reduces the risk of delta variant infection and accelerates viral clearance. Nonetheless, fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts.

The Lancet, first link I came across in Google :-)
by pelgus on Tue Jan 18th, 2022 at 01:35:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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