So, some of you will have noticed Okinawa now has a LOT of people hospitalized with SARS2. On the latest day for which we have the numbers, they had 1130 patients with SARS2 in the hospital:
There are just a total of 1.5 million people who live in Okinawa.
This means 0.07% of the population is in the hospital with COVID, almost one in every thousand Okinawans.
So, if we look at Italy, the country where they began locking everyone up at home because they had too many people getting sick, the peak of their first wave had 32874 people in hospital with COVID.
On a population of 60 million, that’s 0.05479%. In other words, Okinawa, after vaccinating all its elderly three times, after already having had multiple waves of infection that should deliver cross-reactive immunity, is doing worse than Italy at the very start of the pandemic.
And you might say “well, Okinawa is a small island, so unlike in Italy, everyone gets infected at once”. But if you look at Cyprus, which has 1.2 million people, at most they ever had 301 people in hospital at once with COVID.
So what happened? Well, for starters, immunity waned:
Almost half a year passed since their last wave, so their immunity largely faded away. The protection from antibodies and even the T cells just doesn’t last for very long. And that’s a nasty thing, because have a look at this:
The Netherlands is halfway through a similar period of viral absence. You’re basically stuck with the worst choice: Either you have these constant overlapping waves in which everyone gets sick, or you don’t have them and then you have the hospitals filling up again after a while because everyone now lacks immunity.
And what I have to point out is that the longer this vanishing act lasts, the worse it becomes once it returns. There are two reasons for this. There is of course the waning of immunity. But more problematic, is the increasing innate immune antagonism. When the virus returns to infect people, they won’t just lack immunity. Rather, their innate immune system will struggle to activate their adaptive immune system.
But the most important lesson to draw is not difficult. Anyone can do this, you just have to consciously make yourself aware of it: We’re three years into this, everyone has been vaccinated and/or infected, but there is still no end in sight. A bad vaccine is forever.