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Yaneer Bar-Yam



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'I'm Dropping My COVID Hubris,' Vows a Top Immunologist "After the virus harmed Chris Goodnow’s heart, he joined a growing chorus against reinfection complacency. via @The Tyee…

After the virus harmed Chris Goodnow’s heart, he joined a growing chorus against reinfection complacency.…

‘I'm Dropping My COVID Hubris,’ Vows a Top Immunologist | The Tyee

"Last May a subvariant of the ever-evolving Omicron stunned Chris Goodnow, an internationally renowned immunologist. "The extremely fit Australian scientist, who hiked, biked and surfed at Sydney’s Manly Beach, had been bolstered by four doses of vaccine. 2/

"Having spent nearly four decades studying how white blood cells in the immune system protect us from infection, he felt pretty safe about removing his mask. “Maybe it would be better to catch ’rona and get it over with, now that I’m fully vaccinated?” he remembers speculating 3/

“After all, isn’t it just a cold in fully immunized people? And once I’ve had it, won’t I have acquired immunity that will mean I won’t get sick at all if I get it again?” "But Omicron made a mockery of these popular assumptions. 4/

"On May 26, Goodnow came down with a scratchy throat. Twelve days later his immune system had not cleared the virus. Then he got hit by congestive heart failure. He developed a chest cough and was breathless. His ankles swelled up. 5/

"Goodnow was lucky. His acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) was on the mild end of the spectrum but severe enough to reduce his mobility and working life. 6/

"In a remarkably blunt interview with an Australian radio station, and later a personal column, Goodnow admitted that COVID had not behaved as widely expected. “That is the thing that really stunned me and I’m sure has stunned most immunologists,” 7/

"Like many scientists Goodnow assumed that any infection after vaccination would be mild; that reinfections would largely be asymptomatic; that COVID would behave like a cold after vaccination; and that variant-specific vaccines would deliver us from the pandemic. 8/

"But he now considers these assumptions wrong and has set about debunking myths that “many of us, myself included, have entertained more than we should have." He joins a growing cadre of scientific experts sounding alarms “working hard to stop endless waves of reinfection.” 9/

"Not a cold or flu "The first myth that Goodnow wants debunked is probably the most common, that COVID is just a cold. "But colds don’t behave the way COVID does in the body. 10/

"Colds, for example, don’t leave 2.3 per cent of athletes with inflamed hearts after infection, as tests found at 10 U.S. universities. "Nor do colds worsen outcomes with each subsequent infection, as Goodnow and others worry may be the case with COVID. 11/

"He points with concern to a study led by Ziyad Al-Aly. “The risk of cardiovascular disease, for example, increased after one infection, doubled in people who had two infections, and tripled in those who had been infected thrice.”… 12/

"Similar risks were found for heart disease, blood clotting problems, brain decline and diabetes. Nor did vaccines seem to help in preventing these problems, which most frequently occur up to six months after infection. 13/

“Every time you dip your bucket in that COVID well, you’ve got the same chance of a whole lot of bad things happening,” explained Goodnow, who considers Al-Aly's study “really important real-world data.” 14/

"His takeaway: “COVID-19 is not just a cold, and having it before doesn’t ‘get it over with.’” • Not a one and done virus "The second myth that Goodnow wants demolished is that COVID is a “one and done virus.” 15/

"Many viruses, such as polio or measles, both childhood diseases, confer long-time immunity after a vaccine shot or natural infection. "But members of the coronavirus family don’t behave the same. An infection or vaccine provides only temporary or passing immune protection. 16/

"Take for example the four different cold viruses — all members of the coronavirus family — that assail humans every year, explains Goodnow... “They come along every year or two years and escape the antibodies we made before.” 17/

"So COVID is not a “one and done” virus and an infection or vaccine provide limited durable immunity against another infection. • Vaccines don’t stop transmission "Goodnow also has dissected another powerful myth: that vaccines stop transmission. 18/

"Many people have long assumed that being fully immunized means they can’t get infected. “That’s another bit of hubris I carried — up until very recently” says Goodnow. "What really changed that assumption was the appearance of Omicron, the most immune evasive variant to date 19/

"Prior to the Omicron wave, getting reinfected with other COVID variants was a rare event ...Goodnow cites data .. showing protection from infection in citizens who have received two shots plus a booster fell from 95 per cent against Delta to just 45 per cent against Omicron. 20/

"Variant-specific vaccines are no silver bullet "The last myth Goodnow tackles is the belief that variant-specific vaccines are the big answer to getting back to normal. "Boosters do... confer added protection, but they are in a race with viral evolution. 21/

"Given the intense level of viral evolution, vaccines find themselves in what Goodnow calls a “two steps forward three steps back dilemma.” For now, Goodnow has his own plan to avoid dangers posed by cumulative reinfections: “I’m dropping my COVID hubris and donning a mask.” 22/

Yaneer Bar-Yam


Complex Systems Physicist | President of @NECSI | Studying pandemics since 2005 | For progressive elimination @TheWHN

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