Meanwhile, At the Board of Health
According to the Westfield Regional Board of Health, 52% of recent COVID cases are the BQ.1 variant. Director Megan Avallone expressed concerns that immunity from natural infection may not protect against this variant and monoclonal antibodies may not work either. But this was the exchange between Avallone and Westfield BOH President Elizabeth Talmont with regards to the shots:
Elizabeth Talmont: Is the coverage for the booster pretty good for BQ1?
Megan Avallone: So, my understanding is the booster coverage may be protective, slightly, but…
(Ellen): Yeah, I think the jury’s still out exactly on how protective it is. They do feel that there is some protection because it’s similar to the Omicron variant, but I think they’re still looking at it.
ET: Well, as we’ve learned, there is benefit no matter what, so even if it’s not huge, it still prevents death, which is the ultimate, and suffering, so…
MA: And I think that’s the message from the health department. Somebody who’s boosted has a less likely change, much less likely chance of being hospitalized…
It sounds a lot like wishful thinking. Or what Dr. Birx calls “hope.”
(Updating to add that) Additionally, new research begs to differ.
From the article:
New lab data suggest that vaccines and prior infections may not offer enough protection against several new COVID-19 variants cropping up in the U.S. and around the world.
Dr. David Ho, director of Columbia University’s Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC), and his team reported the results from a set of studies at an ADARC symposium. They showed how well some of the latest variants—BQ.1, BQ.1.1, XBB, and XBB.1, which were all derived from Omicron—are evading both vaccine-derived and infection-derived immunity.
The study involved taking blood from 88 people in five groups (varying by level of vaccination) and exposing it to those 4 variants in the laboratory. Notably absent from the data is a group of unvaccinated individuals. The “infection-derived immunity” referred to here is among a group of vaccinated individuals.
The results show that people who had been infected with BA.2, BA.4, or BA.5 generally experienced the smallest drop in neutralizing antibody levels against against BQ.1 and BQ.1.1.
“These new variants are extremely good at evading our antibodies and are very likely to compromise the efficacy of our vaccines,” says Ho. They may also dodge the available antibody-based treatments for COVID-19, he says.
These finding echo the assertions of another study…
Our data demonstrate that BA.2.75.2 and BQ.1.1 escape NAbs induced by infection and vaccination more effectively than BA.5. BQ.1.1 NAb titers were lower than BA.5 NAb titers by a factor of 7 in two cohorts of individuals who received the monovalent or bivalent mRNA vaccine boosters. These findings provide the immunologic context for the rapid increase in BQ.1.1 prevalence in regions where BA.5 is dominant and have implications for both vaccine immunity and natural immunity.
This study looked at neutralizing antibody titers from two cohorts - 15 individuals who received the monovalent mRNA boosters and in 18 individuals who received the bivalent mRNA boosters in 2022.
Once again, natural immunity from unvaccinated individuals is not represented here. I’d be curious to know what that would look like. Until then, we really can’t talk about implications for natural immunity.
Meanwhile, here’s what one public commenter had to say.
And my not particularly articulate comment here:
It’s looking like the bivalent boosters are already obsolete. Suffice it to say this is no time for COVID shot mandates.
They’re gaslighting us again 🤦🏻♂️