Steadily increasing Omicron virulence

I’ve said a few times now that virulence of SARS2 has been increasing steadily since the first Omicron wave.

And so what I want to do today is look at a new analysis, that looks at this subject. It finds what I told you, that every successive Omicron wave has had greater virulence.

I’m not very confident in their methodology however. Specifically, the numbers before Delta look like bunk to me, especially Wuhan. What goes on there is that most cases simply were not diagnosed, there was no mass testing. As a result the CFR looks awfully high.

There are other issues of course too. Omicron’s CFR looks artificially low, because unlike previous variants it’s much better at infecting young people. Wuhan in contrast was the worst variant at infecting a large share of the population, it mostly stuck around infecting the elderly and the sick and as a result its CFR looks inflated, along with the terrible treatment protocol we had at the time (intubation) inflating the death toll.

But all those arguments are hard to apply to the Omicron waves. In fact, because everyone should have some immunity, you’d expect the CFR to go down over time. But it doesn’t. It’s the same problem you see with long COVID. We now have multiple studies, showing reinfections have a higher risk of causing long COVID than the initial infection, because the damage leading to such symptoms builds up over time and the variants become more virulent.

The authors of this study argue that they can extrapolate the trend, resulting in the next major variant being four times deadlier than what we have now:

I personally don’t have much faith in this method of making predictions.

I have much more faith in the mouse passage studies, which show: Absent any sort of specific pressures, virulence steadily increases with time as it moves from one naive mouse to another.

So what sort of pressure reduces virulence? There’s a role to be played for antibodies against virulence associated epitopes, but the main selection against virulence is by NK cells. This has been proven for Influenza.

Most people don’t have proper NK cell immunity because they have antibodies instead, that prohibit NK cells from learning to do their job. In addition to this, the CD8+ T cells learned to kill infected cells, rather than the NK cells. The CD8+ T cells don’t select against virulence either. A CD8+ T cell just looks at whether a cell is expressing a specific antigen. Uniquely, an NK cell checks whether a cell looks healthy or not, as part of its calculation of whether it should kill the cell. And if you let healthy cells live, while killing the sick ones, you cause strains of SARS2 that damage your cells to go extinct, while allowing milder strains to survive.

When everyone has such strong NK cell immunity, we select against virulence. We domesticate this virus and turn it into another hCov. As long as we keep provoking CD8+ T cell immunity and antibodies, we’re not discriminating against virulence. And in the absence of discrimination, the virulent strains better at suppressing Interferon take over.

So that’s why I expect virulence to increase. Right now it looks like the XBB.1.16 strain is failing to cause a wave in the Western world, as the population here developed a strong antibody response from XBB.1.5.

This is not a good thing, it means that it gets time to steadily improve its Interferon suppressing capacity, getting a growing share from a shrinking pie, before it then reaches sufficient fitness to cause the next wave of mass infection.

A new round of vaccination could delay such a wave, if the population goes along, but it would just further enable the stealth evolution of interferon suppressing virulent variants.

The problem is that we have triggered a strong antibody response through mass vaccination, along with a strong CD8 T cell response in the genetic vaccines that transform cells. These antibodies and CD8 T cells can’t select against virulence.

In fact, when you’re deploying CD8 T cells against a virus known to deplete CD8 T cells, you’re simply opening up new roads towards greater virulence. You don’t suffer this problem with the NK cells as they recognise infected cells early.

So to summarise, I agree with the observation of increasing Omicron virulence. In fact their method underestimates the severity of the problem, as they look at observed rather than intrinsic virulence and don’t account for increased immunity and improving treatments.

I don’t think their method of predicting future virulence has any validity though.

16 Comments

  1. So in the end it will be the vaccinated amongst us that generate the virulent strain that will kill us all. But what would happen if there weren’t so many vaccinated to harbor such a transition? There are many things at play to limit the prevalence of vaccinated incubators so maybe it will be a race to see if enough incubators survive to finally produce the ultimate deadly virus

    • >what would happen if there weren’t so many vaccinated to harbor such a transition

      If we never began vaccinating, we would probably have had herd immunity by now.

      If all the vaccinated magically dropped dead today, you would see selection against virulence, by the naturally immune. This would result in an outcome similar to the 19th century coronavirus outbreak.

    • I was more upset when Pentti Linkola died to be honest.

      I’ve kind of outgrown Uncle Ted. He’s a meme at this point. Right wing edgelords will pretend to be their biggest fanboy and then in the next sentence complain about the WEF elitists who are shutting down their nuclear reactors.

  2. What about the Polish study that just came out that purports to show that SARS-CoV-2-2 impairs NK cells “via the activation of the LLT1-CD161 Axis”? (Thailand Medical News, June 11th, 2023) The studies that it builds on and which the Thailand Medical News article links to, seem to be about unvaccinated tissue.

    • Yes I’ve seen it. This is not necessarily a bad thing.

      NK cells have multiple ways to deal with cells that look infected. When LLT1 binds to their CD161 receptor, it leads them to secrete interferon gamma:

      https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20415786/

      In other words, it leads them to secrete an antiviral protein and recruit other branches of the immune system.

      It means they’re less likely to kill the infected cell, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Excessive killing of infected cells by NK cells can also cause problems. That’s one of the factors in Ebola’s virulence. As NK cells take up residence in tissues and adapt to become good at whatever job they had to learn, they tend to become less trigger-happy. And that’s a good thing. They have to judge whether a situation looks bad enough that it necessitates killing the infected cell, or whether other solutions will suffice.

      Where the NK cells really shine, is in their ability to judge whether a situation requires killing of the infected cell. The factors these cells take into consideration are so complex we’ve barely begun to unravel them. The CD8+ T cells in comparison are far more “brute force” when it comes to killing.

      Part of the job of NK cells is to recruit the rest of the immune system, to show up and help them fight whatever they encountered.

      This becomes increasingly important as SARS2 becomes better at antagonizing interferon.

      • In fact, we see signs that severe COVID is associated with excessive activation of cytotoxic cells:

        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33777054/

        The most important job of the adapted NK cells is to recognize SARS2 infected cells early.

        That’s what trained innate immunity after infection is supposed to look like: A bunch of adapted NK cells in the tissues SARS2 infected, that know what to look for and immediately start ringing the alarm bells once they see the first signs of infection again. Severity of infection largely comes down to: How long does it take your immune system to figure out what’s going on?

        You would expect that this decrease in direct cytotoxicity of the more mature NK cells that have adaptations from previous exposure is not a problem: There should now be other branches of the immune system that these NK cells can rapidly recruit. As an example, they could recruit eosinophiles that can degrade viral particles and break down RNA, perhaps even within the infected cell. This would allow clearing of an infection without the affected cell having to die.

      • Thank you very much. I realize now that you did explain in earlier posts about the ability of NK cells to judge whether to kill infected cells, rather than to kill them indiscriminately, but I didn’t make the connection.

  3. Hm, clever. So Omicron was not only a genetically-engineered vaccine released from a South African lab, but it also gradually kills off those who got the clot shot. So it’s a vaccine against stupidity as well!

      • This is what low IQ morons invented because they’re so desperate for SARS to be a nothingburger they end up denying the lab leak in Wuhan.

        I have no patience for all the SARS fanfiction from LSWMs on Twitter.

  4. Here’s my tiny contribution to the communal soup:

    I spent the past two weeks traveling back and forth through North-Eastern Romania (Moldova, not the independent republic, but the Romanian province) and North-Western Romania (Transylvania). In Moldova (Iasi, Botosani, Neamt) I was hearing ambulance sirens all the time, plus seeing ambulances with no sirens, only lights. I have never seen such ambulance activity in my life, even through the waves of post-jab effects in my current highly jabbed location (not Romania). They were going back and forth everywhere, even in villages. In Transylvania — nada.

    I met people whom I know well, that most happen to be jabbed. Two medical doctors among them. None of them seemed sick, nobody expressed any concern. Watched local news every evening, no mentions of any kind of infectious disease going around. Saw zero car accidents, which probably means no sudden deaths. However, there was clearly SOMETHING going on in North-Eastern Romania. No idea what.

    Unrelated info that you may find useful: Lady Jessica comes across a medical journal article that confirms that getting infected with the famous virus is bad for the brainz: https://jessicar.substack.com/p/want-to-compromise-brain-activity

    • Joopa, is it possible that what you saw was related to the war in Ukraine?

      It’s possible that western ‘advisers’ have been wounded in missile strikes on command centres. As these people were not officially supposed to be in Ukraine, they may have to be smuggled across borders to reach a NATO hospital.

    • If you vaccinate against the novel XBB variants, you’ll get an antibody response aimed at XBB.

      This will reduce people’s chances of getting infected, while the antibodies are there.

      I wouldn’t recommend it, because:
      1. After a few months you start to observe negative efficacy.
      2. You’ll merely facilitate the evolution of the completely antibody evasive strains.

      But you would delay the process.

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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