The Omicron Hypothesis, Part 1
The Vaccine Wars Part XI
"The Church must be all-powerful. You discover these horrors within institutions because predators find ways of hiding in plain sight." -Alex Gibney
This topic is going to start big and get bigger. I don't mean to bury the lede, but it's far too big to fit into a title. But you need to understand this. Just read and keep reading. Please.
And what we cover is more like "Omicron Hypotheses" since we must keep branches of possibility open where we cannot fill in some information.
Understand that some of what follows is speculative, but reasonably so. As always, I will clearly cite/link to sources of fact. I invite further commentary to help gather the best set of information to work with.
Now, strap in and hold on to your seat. This is one of those articles…
Vaccines Don't Look Good During the Omicron Explosion
Omicron seems to be everywhere right now: millions of cases identified weekly in the U.S. alone:
OMG, Omicron! Everyone is going to die!
Except they're not. As omicron took over the caseload, the case fatality rate (CFR), which is the proportion of COVID-19 cases that are fatal (cases, not infections), took a nosedive. Per case, COVID-19 is almost 90% less deadly than prior to the omicronification of the pandemic. In fact, we may pass 90% by the time I'm done typing, which has already confused my sense of changing tense in this paragraph…
We should still keep an eye out for overall health impact, including the frequency and severity of long haul symptoms. But the extremely good news is that the COVID-19 case count—not that it was ever measured correctly—has officially decoupled from the hospitalization and death counts. That's okay—sometimes, during changes in functional outcomes, we care more about precision in measurement than accuracy.
And by "officially" I don't mean that the WHO said so (though they might have…I haven't bothered to check because why would I?), but rather "look at the charts!" In fact, there are almost no deaths at all associated with the omicron variant! Of course, there will be some. There is no such thing as a respiratory infection that doesn't kill some of the frail elderly. But unless there is some facet of the omicron outbreak that we don't yet understand, this is all extremely good news. In fact, it's such good news that we should probably declare the pandemic over with and stop talking about vaccine mandates and passports altogether.
Now, since Israel has been the darling of vaccine advocates who don't care that the retrospective studies are performed by Pfizer investors who don't correct for risk or data censorship, let's start there. COVID-19 cases are out of control, and it's not a pandemic of the unvaccinated.
And it's not just Israel…
The normalized data from the United Kingdom shows the vaccinated suffering from COVID-19 around twice as much as the unvaccinated during the Winter wave:
In late December, it was reported that 97% of those hospitalized for omicron in a Delhi hospital were fully vaccinated.
Fact 1: In data from multiple sources around the world, omicron seems to have a strange affinity for the vaccinated, with overall odds ratios from nearly 2 to greater than 4.
Did we calculate efficacy numbers too soon?
Or was "efficacy" always a matter of omicron?
We'll come back to that…
Taking A Step Back
I do not and have never believed that the omicron variant just came in and WHOOSH took over the whole world including every cupboard in every remote farm and fishing village in the swift blink of an eye as CDC surveillance models and covariant.org would have us all believe. From 0% at the end of November to 88% on January 10 (actually, that was a running two weeks calculation…the CDC thinks >99% now)?!
Pardon my language, but HOLY MOTHER OF BULL PFIZER-DINGLEBERRY, that did not happen. Understand, I can fully buy that the primary SARS-CoV-2 tree is now endemic and currently found in small (infection) numbers. But understand that the implication is that it took omicron just one week to surpass peak seasonal (magnitude) spread of all other variants combined.
However, I can understand why all the shiny models and pretty pictures might convince people otherwise. And frankly, I didn't fully get it until just a few days ago myself. Reading the papers and digging into databases is not easy for the average Joe. It takes time even for people who have experience reading papers and digging into databases, and until I was in a conversation with Dr. Henry Ealy last week, I'd try to keep omicron out of my mental space—we cannot all pay attention to everything while doing research, and the variant porn had grown boring.
I'll come back to Dr. Ealy…
Follow me a little further, now…and keep ahold of the railing…
Let's take one more step back
I hope you'll give me credit for not going down the omicron rabbit hole before I was ready. The rapid interplay between the COVID-Authoritarian Complex and The Resistance has been chaotic, at best. I've sometimes listened, learned, and filed papers away, but never did I trust that anyone had a full grip on the story. I certainly do not, but I've learned a few things.
When SARS-CoV-2 first swept through the U.S., the "first wave" appeared as two waves of somewhat distinct geographical characteristics. The virus first hit large urban population centers with substantial volumes of international travel, and also Andrew Cuomo. Somewhat later during the summer, SARS-CoV-2 hit Mississippi, for instance.
It doesn't matter how high of an R value a virus has, a virus doesn't get in the car and drive from Chicago, Illinois to Pocatello, Idaho. Because, well, viruses don't even drive (consensus expert opinion). And most of the people who would be driving that car have at best a vague epistemology attached to the reliable existence of Idaho. From the CDC's variant surveillance dashboard, where conclusions are drawn from 30 or so sequenced genomes at a time!
Occams' razor verdict: It is highly unlikely that massive omicron outbreaks occurred everywhere in the United States all at the exact same time.
Hypothesis 1: Omicron has been circulating widely for at least several months.
Back to the Future: When Did Omicron Begin?
Those following the Crusted News Notwork (CNN) understand the origins of omicron to be in Botswana and South Africa where the variant of interest was reported to be first observed and sequenced in late November of 2021. Just the proposal of such an origins story was enough to asymmetrically restrict travel and slap a travel advisory on South Africa, which couldn't possibly have been punishment for eschewing further vaccination, as I'm sure official CNN officials would tell you. Regardless, by December 17, 2021, omicron was already in more than 60 countries, and is now found on all seven continents (yes, including Antarctica).
We are told that this is possible because omicron has such high R that if two people anywhere in the world are playing Minecraft on the same server, and one of them is infected, then the other one gets infected as well.
However, an omicron sample (EPI_ISL_7543999) was collected no later than June 17, 2021 from a 73-year-old woman in Western Cape, South Africa. Then, in December, that record was deleted from the GISAID database (hat tip Sandeep Chakraborty).
Who would want to delete records from a genomic database, and why?
During the pandemic, GISAID has received funding from such sources as the World Health Organization, Pfizer, Janssen (J&J), and Merck. Understand also that many scientists have called for fully open sharing of GISAID, which is the largest SARS-CoV-2 genomic platform. From Nature (emphasis mine):
Researchers have posted huge numbers of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences online since January 2020. The most popular data-sharing platform, called GISAID, now hosts more than 450,000 viral genomes; Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), has called it a “game changer” in the pandemic. But it doesn’t allow sequences to be reshared publicly, which is hampering efforts to understand the coronavirus and the rapid rise of new variants, argues Rolf Apweiler, co-director of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) near Cambridge, UK, which hosts its own large genome database that includes SARS-CoV-2 sequences.
We might simply view GISAID as an excellent tool that was chosen as a host of pandemic genomic information precisely because it could be controlled by the COVID-Authoritarian Complex. Was that control important enough to "eliminate" a Johns Hopkins genomics researcher working on a separate and competing open source system?
Now, let us consider reasonable hypotheses for the proximal origins of omicron:
Origins H1: Omicron spread cryptically, undetected by insufficient surveillance methods. (We will talk about why those methods might have been insufficient.)
Origins H2: Omicron could have evolved in an immunocompromised host, chronically infected by weeks or months.
Origins H3: Omicron could have developed in non-human hosts, then reintroduced to a human who spread it to 24 million people in like 5 weeks.
Understand that H3 can be broad enough to include an array of possibilities including a lab leak by totally innocent researchers working with SARS-CoV-2, totally random human-to-mouse-to-human interactions with rapid evolution in the interim, and genetic engineering.
For those still harboring dissonance over the possibility that this entire pandemic was the outcrop of gain of function research, understand that sleuths have matched a 19 nucleotide sequence between SARS-CoV-2 and a sequence in a Moderna patent.
Naively, such matches should be on the order of 1 in a trillion events, but there are select biases inherent in genetic sequences, so let's just call it "one in many billions". Then allowing for the match to occur anywhere in the nearly 8,000 nucleotide genome (being generous and conservative), and over a few thousand patents, this is still a somewhat rare event. Those with a knee-jerk need to avoid the "conspiracy theorist" label might be forgiven for ignoring it. The problem is, all the other patent matches.
Hypothesis 2 (Subset of Origins H3): Omicron was genetically engineered—most likely by somebody in the same working group who engineered an mRNA vaccine to stop SARS-CoV-2.
Back to our origins hypothesis list. Note how the CNN pushed the story about the Taiwanese researcher who was bitten by a SARS-CoV-2 infected mouse:
Scan the rest of the "Taiwan omicron mouse bite" Google search results from December, 2021 if you like.
Don't you know that SARS-CoV-2 is so novel that it carries a Swiss army spike protein capable of infecting deer, minks, pangolin, mice, and flies?
Does it strike anyone else as weird that the CNN would choose that exact moment to also acknowledge the existence of Taiwan by it's name?
If you're thinking that somebody wants us all to focus our minds on H3, I think we're on the same page. But the mind control games get worse. A major critique of the vaccination programs has been that so-called "leaky vaccines" result in variants that escape immune pressure (here, here, and here). While CNN-annointed experts were dismissive of the possibility of vaccinated individuals becoming variant factories (particularly the immunocompromised), the CNN circle came right out and promoted the notion that omicron (and maybe even prior variants) did in fact emerge from immunocompromised hosts. Why would they pat common sense theorists on the heads now? Is it because having them self-congratulate keeps them focused on the ball?
But wait, this preprint (Wei et al; Dec 24, 2021) lays out a compelling case that omicron evolved in a mouse model. Is my nearly-always-justified cynicism of the CNN misplaced this one strangely important moment?
While the authors from a Beijing plant genomics laboratory do not fully define the term word "jumped", you should assume there is a CCP gun to the back of everyone's head whether or not they're imagining the gun that the CCP would produce upon understanding what just took place.
Back to Reality: When and How Did Omicron Begin?
It's not likely that omicron began even there (the South end of the African continent) in June. Regardless of the forms in which they come, in viruses or traditional kingdoms of life, genetic sequences mutate at relatively consistent and predictable rates. This allows for us to gauge evolutionary distances between species or related viruses, which was the subject of my internship at the Human Genome Project many years ago.
Now, it's entirely up to you to stop thinking up jokes about how we can handle this long new branch. No. No. Do that other thing. That other other thing. Just stop. There. Thank you.
I wonder if the NYC DoH actually computed the relative risk of transmission of an aerosolized virus between sharing coffee and playing "hide the new long branch" before telling people to maybe stop having meaningful interactions…Never mind…back to our regularly scheduled program…
German virologist Emma Hodcroft believes that omicron likely diverged in mid-2020 from early strains. This places its timing of origin at around the same time as some other variants, not to mention vaccine trials. Understand that this is even earlier than when much of the United Flyover States of America even met COVID to any significant degree.
Eugyppius, whose substack I greatly enjoy and find consistently educational, hypothesizes that omicron was leaked from a laboratory, which is one way to explain why it looks like a mid-2020 branch of the SARS-CoV-2 phylogenetic tree.
To Be Continued (We Haven’t Reached the Best Part, Yet)…