Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

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bob sterman
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Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by bob sterman » Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:41 am

Maybe this is an interesting theory - worth investigating. But should scientists really be blabbing this sort of stuff to the media in the middle of a pandemic?

Lockdown and social distancing could make our immune system weaker, says scientist
https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/13019 ... une-system

Perhaps in the long term it's a risk worth thinking about - but now? In the middle of a pandemic where lack of social distancing has the potential to make your immune (and other systems) not just weaker but deader?

The tin-foil hat anti-vax mob are going to lap this up.

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jdc
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by jdc » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:24 pm

That was the scientist who produced a best-case scenario model in March which "showed that if the virus had arrived in Britain a month earlier than thought – in December rather than January – it might have spread far wider than anyone appreciated, and infected half the population. If that was the case, the risk of dying would be a fraction of the 1% it is generally believed to be, and infections would soon wane through “herd immunity” – achieved when more than two-thirds have acquired immunity to the virus."

(Mentioned in a 5th June interview where Prof Gupta was arguing for a quicker unlockdown - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/ ... etra-gupta “We can’t just think about those who are vulnerable to the disease. We have to think about those who are vulnerable to lockdown too. The costs of lockdown are too high at this point.”)

bob sterman
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by bob sterman » Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:59 pm

jdc wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:24 pm
That was the scientist who produced a best-case scenario model in March which "showed that if the virus had arrived in Britain a month earlier than thought – in December rather than January – it might have spread far wider than anyone appreciated, and infected half the population. If that was the case, the risk of dying would be a fraction of the 1% it is generally believed to be, and infections would soon wane through “herd immunity” – achieved when more than two-thirds have acquired immunity to the virus."
Yup - the same Sunetra Gupta who was suggesting in March that perhaps 50% of the population had already been infected and that consequently the Infection Fatality Rate was probably lower than 0.1%.

Proved wrong by serology studies showing that even by late May only 17% of people in London, and 5% of the overall population, had been infected - putting the IFR in the 0.5-1.0% range that we've seen pretty consistently around the world.

So she's now found another anti-lockdown rationale to push - that it makes our immune systems weaker.

Like John Ioannidis - she's not giving the impression of being a disinterested researcher seeking the truth.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by Herainestold » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:17 pm

Is there any evidence that anything -other than declining health - can affect the immune system one way or another, in the short term?

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:26 pm

People talk about the "immune system" like it's your hard disk or something. it gets sluggish, you can defrag/boost it, you mustn't overwhelm it with too many vaccines at once, etc. It's just a f.cking metaphor.
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by jimbob » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:37 pm

bob sterman wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:59 pm
jdc wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 2:24 pm
That was the scientist who produced a best-case scenario model in March which "showed that if the virus had arrived in Britain a month earlier than thought – in December rather than January – it might have spread far wider than anyone appreciated, and infected half the population. If that was the case, the risk of dying would be a fraction of the 1% it is generally believed to be, and infections would soon wane through “herd immunity” – achieved when more than two-thirds have acquired immunity to the virus."
Yup - the same Sunetra Gupta who was suggesting in March that perhaps 50% of the population had already been infected and that consequently the Infection Fatality Rate was probably lower than 0.1%.

Proved wrong by serology studies showing that even by late May only 17% of people in London, and 5% of the overall population, had been infected - putting the IFR in the 0.5-1.0% range that we've seen pretty consistently around the world.

So she's now found another anti-lockdown rationale to push - that it makes our immune systems weaker.

Like John Ioannidis - she's not giving the impression of being a disinterested researcher seeking the truth.
Cross posting, and in case anyone wants to join in...
jimbob wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:32 pm
Yet another anti-lockdown person misusing data

https://twitter.com/kerpen/status/1277578660665491456

And the bit he's retweeting approvingly:
On the "same as bad flu" - with a population fatality rate approx 0.04 to 0.05% (or ~500 in a million people) over the season - it is actually pretty much the de facto impact of a bad flu.
Argument against is: "the lockdown magicks kept it low" - but this is not evidence-based...
I did point out that that if the epidemic had finished, we'd need 200% of the UK population to get to that level.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Bird on a Fire
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:50 pm

Herainestold wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:17 pm
Is there any evidence that anything -other than declining health - can affect the immune system one way or another, in the short term?
I mean, surely anything that negatively affects the 'immune system' or some component(s) of it is, by definition, causing a decline in health? Stuff like stress, malnutrition, autoimmune conditions, various infections, cancers etc., can all alter immune responses.

Gupta's claim that reduced contact with pathogens resulting from lockdown may result in reduced immunity could well have some merit, but I think that has to be weighed against the effect of increased contact with the novel pathogen that's already killed half a million people this year, a nuance largely lacking in the Express article (which may or may not be Gupta's fault).
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by shpalman » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:04 pm

Reduced immunity against what? The pathogens you're no longer encountering? Unless it comes out that exposure to related coronaviruses protects you from this particular coronavirus I think it's just better to avoid exposure to coronaviruses.

Dexamethasone had been shown to reduce mortality in covid patients receiving respiratory support. It's an anti-inflammatory immunosuppressant steroid. Because sometimes it does actually help to weaken the immune system.
molto tricky

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:20 pm

shpalman wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:04 pm
Reduced immunity against what? The pathogens you're no longer encountering?
Yes. I suppose one risk is that pathogens aren't circulating as normal, so when lockdown ends people might be exposed to more novel pathogens simultaneously than they normally would be as people start travelling around and getting close to each other and eating endangered species again.

Also, isn't there some evidence that a certain amount of environmental pathogen pressure is helpful for maintaining normal immune response, at least in babies? AIUI kids that grow up in overly sterile environments are more at risk of developing autoimmune conditions than kids that are allowed to lick worms and poke the cat's bum and then eat dinner without washing their hands.
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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by Little waster » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:53 pm

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:20 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:04 pm
Reduced immunity against what? The pathogens you're no longer encountering?
Yes. I suppose one risk is that pathogens aren't circulating as normal, so when lockdown ends people might be exposed to more novel pathogens simultaneously than they normally would be as people start travelling around and getting close to each other and eating endangered species again.
The flip side of that is lockdown has also had the beneficial effect of screwing up the spread of a whole raft of less-deadly nasties too.

Compulsory xkcd.

https://xkcd.com/2306/
Shamelessly recycling old jokes since 1952.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:22 am

Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:20 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:04 pm
Reduced immunity against what? The pathogens you're no longer encountering?
Yes. I suppose one risk is that pathogens aren't circulating as normal, so when lockdown ends people might be exposed to more novel pathogens simultaneously than they normally would be as people start travelling around and getting close to each other and eating endangered species again.

Also, isn't there some evidence that a certain amount of environmental pathogen pressure is helpful for maintaining normal immune response, at least in babies? AIUI kids that grow up in overly sterile environments are more at risk of developing autoimmune conditions than kids that are allowed to lick worms and poke the cat's bum and then eat dinner without washing their hands.

On the second part, I looked at the Wiki for hygiene hypothesis and it reckons "While early versions of the hypothesis referred to exposure to microbes in general, updated versions apply to a specific set of microbial species that humans have co-evolved with.[1][4][2] The updates have been given various names, including the microbiome depletion hypothesis, the microflora hypothesis, and the "old friends" hypothesis.[4][5] There is a significant amount of evidence supporting the idea that lack of exposure to these microbes is linked to allergies or other conditions,[2][6][7] although scientific disagreement still exists.[4][8][9]" (I haven't checked the references, as I was only interested enough to skim the wiki. Gut bacteria seem to be the thing so I guess you could give your kid a yoghurt instead of letting them play with a cat's bum.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hygiene_hypothesis

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by jdc » Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:26 am

If she's worried about our immune systems getting lazy or forgetting how to do their job, I suppose we could all get the flu jab. That should keep it ticking over. Probably marginally safer than sarscov2 I'd imagine, so that's a bonus.

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Re: Reckless public engagement - "Lockdown could make immune system weaker"

Post by shpalman » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:31 am

Little waster wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:53 pm
Bird on a Fire wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:20 pm
shpalman wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:04 pm
Reduced immunity against what? The pathogens you're no longer encountering?
Yes. I suppose one risk is that pathogens aren't circulating as normal, so when lockdown ends people might be exposed to more novel pathogens simultaneously than they normally would be as people start travelling around and getting close to each other and eating endangered species again.
The flip side of that is lockdown has also had the beneficial effect of screwing up the spread of a whole raft of less-deadly nasties too.

Compulsory xkcd.

https://xkcd.com/2306/
That was my thinking. There'll just be fewer viruses in circulation in general because of the lockdown.
molto tricky

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