"When will we be back to normal?"

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Hunting Dog
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"When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Hunting Dog » Sun Jan 17, 2021 7:46 pm

I'm wondering why most discussions (especially from UK government) are about when things will get back to normal, instead of anyone considering and planning for the idea that maybe things won't, at least within our lifetimes.

For things to completely go back to normal you'd either need all countries to vaccinate/isolate enough at the same time to wipe out the virus, or for the virus to mutate to a much less damaging variant, or for a cure for the infection to be found, all of which seem a little unlikely!

Failing that single countries (ala New Zealand, Australia) may be able to get back to normal within the country by restricting international/regional travel and quarantining arrivals, but the 'normal' wouldn't include unrestricted business or holiday travel, and might include sporadic lockdowns if the incoming quarantine didn't work.


If we're left with the situation where the vaccine is partly successful but needs frequent boosters and/or adjustments for new strains, then surely we'd be in a situation where crowding a lot of people into an indoor space isn't going to be a good idea for the foreseeable future?

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by KAJ » Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:10 pm

Meh. Depends what you mean by "back to normal". The world will never be exactly as it was in November 2019. But that would have been true even without a pandemic.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Grumble » Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:55 pm

I’m hopeful that barring the need to get annual vaccinations or whatever it ends up being, life will indeed get back to something like pre-covid normal. Certainly I want holidays, birthday parties and family gatherings to resume.

I think things will in some ways be better than before, I’m not going to say anything new here but a couple of positive things I can see are increased telecommuting leading to reduced traffic and (hopefully) better general hygiene standards reducing other communicable diseases.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by lpm » Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:36 pm

We're currently impressed by the ramp up to 2 million jabs a week.

But an annual vaccine would require 1 million a week, for ever.

The most likely outcome is a heavy resource burden of annual jabs for over 65s and vulnerables. Younger people will be inconvenienced by a non fatal cough and fever every few years. The entire population will have partial immunity to most of the strains, though, and though endemic it will fade away.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:43 pm

lpm wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:36 pm
We're currently impressed by the ramp up to 2 million jabs a week.

But an annual vaccine would require 1 million a week, for ever.

The most likely outcome is a heavy resource burden of annual jabs for over 65s and vulnerables. Younger people will be inconvenienced by a non fatal cough and fever every few years. The entire population will have partial immunity to most of the strains, though, and though endemic it will fade away.
That all depends upon how and when Covid mutates. If it evolves to be able to evade the immune response caused by vaccines or prior infection then there’s no going back to the old normal.

It might be possible to eradicate Covid in the UK. But that will be a very difficult task in much of the rest of the world. Sure, smallpox was eradicated, but it’s the only one and that campaign took a decade and it was hundreds of years after inoculation became common.

So long as infection is widespread in various parts of the world there’s a risk that we’ll see more mutations.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by sTeamTraen » Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:48 pm

lpm wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:36 pm
But an annual vaccine would require 1 million a week, for ever.
I don't think that needs to be a problem. We would set things up so that pharmacies can give the jab. It's already how a lot of French people get their flu jab. And arguably you don't need to vaccinate the whole population --- just, say, the over 50s, where you currently vaccinate the over 60s against flu.

You won't get people to accept lockdowns for an IFR of less than 0.05-0.1%, and presumably we all have some non-zero percentage that we would accept. The denier point that "We accept 2,000 road deaths a year" contains a grain of truth.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:11 pm

I bet there are already shitloads of new mutations in places that don't have much surveillance. It's totally out of control in places like Brazil and Mexico, where they've never locked down thanks to stupid populist governments. Mrs BoaF was showing me a former friend's social media stories from yesterday, of crowded nightclubs and maskless people on buses.

I think it would be wise for the international community to be applying more pressure on countries that are breeding new strains of covid. There's not much point in spending gajillions on vaccines while other countries are letting the pandemic run riot.

Until we're at herd immunity, countries should be maintaining strict lockdowns and applying both sanctions and economic support to other countries to get them to do the same. Minimum wage in Mexico is only €9 a day so the EU could easily bankroll a furlough, even if the Mexican government can't (and/or won't).

Individualist, isolated, piecemeal approaches don't work with global environmental challenges, as we know from three decades of failing to address the climate crisis.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by shpalman » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:14 pm

sTeamTraen wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:48 pm
lpm wrote:
Sun Jan 17, 2021 10:36 pm
But an annual vaccine would require 1 million a week, for ever.
I don't think that needs to be a problem. We would set things up so that pharmacies can give the jab. It's already how a lot of French people get their flu jab. And arguably you don't need to vaccinate the whole population --- just, say, the over 50s, where you currently vaccinate the over 60s against flu.

You won't get people to accept lockdowns for an IFR of less than 0.05-0.1%, and presumably we all have some non-zero percentage that we would accept. The denier point that "We accept 2,000 road deaths a year" contains a grain of truth.
In England, there are about 25 million people between the ages of 15 and 50. Letting a disease with an IFR of 0.05-0.1% run unchecked through them would probably lead to 10,000-20,000 deaths. Here's why you can't compare that to seasonal 'flu deaths even if the order of magnitude is similar (but not in that age group).

The less covid there is, the easier it is to test and trace. Letting it run at a level which causes an "acceptable" level of deaths isn't necessarily the easiest way to deal with it.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by lpm » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:43 pm

But everyone aged <50 would at least have a jab or two at some point in their lives. For example, vaccinate all at age 18 to prevent students getting ill. A few years later there might be another Covid wave but some residual immune response might make it inconsequential.

In the same way that having flu might give you protection later in life when a similar flu variety comes along.

My guess is Covid will be far less dangerous than flu over the coming decades. Too many millions will have partial protection against it. Vaccination tweaking will be too easy. The poor little thing won't get much of a chance.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Sciolus » Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:56 pm

It isn't over here until it's over everywhere.

Not only does it spread uncontrollably, but as Chops says, the more it is in circulation the more certain it is that a vaccine-proof variant will arise, and we'll be back to square one. That means stamping it out, or at least reducing it to track-and-trace levels, globally. It's not just a catastrophic moral failure, it's simple self-interest.

And yet... It's clear it's never going to be completely exterminated. Sooner or later, we're going to have to get the point of "an acceptable number of deaths" being the cost of normal life. You can't value a human life at £infinity. My best hope is the flu model, with annual vaccines for the currently circulating strains, keeping it at manageable levels. If they can deliver sterilising immunity, that might just be good enough.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:06 pm

lpm wrote:
Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:43 pm
But everyone aged <50 would at least have a jab or two at some point in their lives. For example, vaccinate all at age 18 to prevent students getting ill. A few years later there might be another Covid wave but some residual immune response might make it inconsequential.
It might be inconsequential, or it might not. Most of the human population in 1918 will have had influenza before. It depends depends upon how it mutates. As Bird and Sciolus point out, so long as there are millions of new infections every day there are lots of opportunities for mutations to arise.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by lpm » Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am

The other thing to consider is flu.

Flu is in trouble. 2020-21 is its worst year in history. And probably colds are having their worst year too.

The virus is stuck at the low point in its annual phasing rather than cycling up and down. Strains now are probably similar to those a year ago - mutations are inevitably reduced when new infections are running at 1% of normal.

Even worse for the little flu virus, humans have made a big leap forward in vaccine technology. The Pfizer Covid technology shows what can be achieved. A universal vaccine against all types of flu - with immune effects that last years rather than months - is probably just a few years away.

Add in the permanent changes to society - mask wearing standard, the end to handshakes, more isolation when ill - and the flu death toll in the future should be a fraction of what we're used to. The excess death charts we're seeing currently are misleading because they don't show the disappearance of flu deaths - we'd be well under the average line if it wasn't for Covid.

On the other hand, anecdotally there was a burst of cold infections in the first half of September when schools went back. Infections were delayed by social distancing but equally immunity from a variant was delayed. It's possible that an end to lockdown will lead to the backlog of flu infections hitting in autumn when few have had recent immunity. The way to prevent it is via tens of millions of flu vaccinations and continuing mini lockdown measures such as masks in shops, handwashing and habitual distancing.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:29 pm

lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am
The other thing to consider is flu.

Flu is in trouble. 2020-21 is its worst year in history. And probably colds are having their worst year too.

The virus is stuck at the low point in its annual phasing rather than cycling up and down. Strains now are probably similar to those a year ago - mutations are inevitably reduced when new infections are running at 1% of normal.
As far as I know its different with flu as influenza endemic in animal populations. So infections and mutations will keep occurring there even if humans have mostly stopped catching it.
lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am
Even worse for the little flu virus, humans have made a big leap forward in vaccine technology. The Pfizer Covid technology shows what can be achieved. A universal vaccine against all types of flu - with immune effects that last years rather than months - is probably just a few years away.
I really don't know about how long that'll take.
lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am
Add in the permanent changes to society - mask wearing standard, the end to handshakes, more isolation when ill - and the flu death toll in the future should be a fraction of what we're used to. The excess death charts we're seeing currently are misleading because they don't show the disappearance of flu deaths - we'd be well under the average line if it wasn't for Covid.
There did seem to be permanent changes in East Asian societies after SARS, at least mask wearing in public became common and didn't stop afterward. It'll be interesting to see how permanent are the changes elsewhere.
lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am
On the other hand, anecdotally there was a burst of cold infections in the first half of September when schools went back. Infections were delayed by social distancing but equally immunity from a variant was delayed. It's possible that an end to lockdown will lead to the backlog of flu infections hitting in autumn when few have had recent immunity. The way to prevent it is via tens of millions of flu vaccinations and continuing mini lockdown measures such as masks in shops, handwashing and habitual distancing.
Flu vaccinations should happen. I'm not sure how much people will accept permanent mask wearing in public, using antibac everywhere and habitual distancing.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:50 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 2:29 pm
lpm wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 11:18 am
Add in the permanent changes to society - mask wearing standard, the end to handshakes, more isolation when ill - and the flu death toll in the future should be a fraction of what we're used to. The excess death charts we're seeing currently are misleading because they don't show the disappearance of flu deaths - we'd be well under the average line if it wasn't for Covid.
There did seem to be permanent changes in East Asian societies after SARS, at least mask wearing in public became common and didn't stop afterward. It'll be interesting to see how permanent are the changes elsewhere.
I mean, mask wearing isn't particularly common in the UK during the pandemic - I'm pretty sure that as soon as people aren't told asked to wear them they'll just stop.

And as you say, flu is still being bred in pig farms, poultry farms, etc. As long as there's intensive animal agriculture, those pathogens will be present adjacent to human populations. I suppose we could make farmers and vets wear hazmat suits as a precaution. A new strain might need to mutate to become more infectious, like covid has done in the UK, but with hundreds of thousands of farms and billions of animals it's got plenty of opportunity.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by lpm » Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:35 pm

But we are close to having an infinite variety of flu vaccines. The BioNTech mRNA technology is basically Star Trek medicine. New strain, new tweak.

Next step is automation of vaccinations. Remove the humans. Stop by the vaccination point at your local train station, scan your healthcare card, select your vaccine, a robot jabs your arm.

People predicted the 21st C would be the age of bioengineering. In fact it might be the age of vaccinations. A couple more pandemics in the next decade - a flu one, another Sars - and getting the technology to vaccinate 10 billion people in a few months will seem well worth having.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by shpalman » Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:37 pm

But we already produce a new version of the 'flu vaccine depending on the strain which pops up each season.

What would be a gamechanger would be a nasal spray covid vaccine, especially if you'd be able to give it to children.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by jdc » Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:52 pm

shpalman wrote:
Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:37 pm
But we already produce a new version of the 'flu vaccine depending on the strain which pops up each season.

What would be a gamechanger would be a nasal spray covid vaccine, especially if you'd be able to give it to children.
I think there's a couple in development, e.g. https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/news/scient ... al-spray-1
Lancaster University researchers have successfully engineered a Covid-19 vaccine which can be administered through the nose.

The researchers administered two doses of the vaccine via a nasal spray in animal trials which are the first stage in vaccine development.

This elicited robust antibodies and T cell responses which were enough to be able to neutralize SARS-CoV-2. There was also a significant reduction in lung pathology, inflammation and clinical disease in the rodents who received the vaccine.

The vaccine is based on a common poultry virus called the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV), which can replicate in humans but is harmless. The scientists engineered NDV to produce the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19, tricking the body into mounting an immune response against SARS-CoV-2.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by jdc » Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:01 pm

Another Phase I trial here: https://www.hku.hk/press/news_detail_21583.html
The State Key Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases of the University of Hong Kong (the SKL) has partnered with Xiamen University and Wantai Biopharmaceutical company to rapidly develop a vaccine candidate against COVID-19.
In response to the outbreak of SARS-CoV2, researchers at HKU have developed a vaccine candidate based on the established flu-based DelNS1 live attenuated influenza virus (LAIV) platform. This vaccine strategy has several unique properties:
  • It is a flu-based vaccine and can combine with any seasonal flu vaccine strains.
  • It is live attenuated with the deletion of the key virulent element and immune antagonist, NS1, from the viral genome and is potentially more immunogenic than wild type influenza virus.
  • It can be produced in chicken embryonated eggs and MDCK cells which are proven production systems for influenza vaccines.
  • Its features are highly safe and is used as nasal spray to induce specific immunity in the airway of humans.
Also also...
Maryland-based Altimmune is a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on developing vaccines delivered by nasal spray. Recently, they’ve tackled influenza and anthrax using this technology. They have now used it to make a nasal spray vaccine for Covid-19, delivering the Ad5 adenovirus to the airway. The company says its nasal spray may be more effective for blocking the transmission of the virus than vaccines given by injection. On Dec. 22, the company registered a Phase 1 clinical trial for adults.
And finally...
The Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology of Cuba announced on Nov. 26 that it was beginning a Phase 1 trial of a vaccine delivered as a nasal spray. Known as Mambisa, the vaccine contains a piece of the coronavirus spike protein called the receptor-binding domain, along with a protein from the hepatitis B virus that stimulates the immune system. The name refers to women who fought in Cuba’s nineteenth-century wars of independence.

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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by shpalman » Tue Jan 19, 2021 4:14 pm

As we transition to "living with" covid we'll be able to accept vaccines which aren't quite so efficacious, but the large-scale safety data will be more important.

The vaccination programme at the moment seems to be ignoring a lot of the developing world. This is of course unfair but there are arguments for why it maybe isn't quite as unfair as it might seem. However, if international travel is going to become a thing again this will need to be addressed sooner or later.

But I'm still optimistic that we'll be able to get rid of most* of covid quite effectively with the vaccines currently deployed and/or under development now, as long as everyone** can be vaccinated soon enough.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by monkey » Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:41 pm


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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by shpalman » Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:47 pm

Got to keep the morons on the tory back benches placated somehow.

Who did they write to, the f.cking king virus?
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by Grumble » Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:54 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:47 pm
Got to keep the morons on the tory back benches placated somehow.

Who did they write to, the f.cking king virus?
Right, I’m about to go and see if my Moron for Parliament has signed this, but I’ll be quite surprised if he hasn’t.

Edit: He’s not said yet whether he’s signed it and the list isn’t public. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
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Re: "When will we be back to normal?"

Post by headshot » Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:23 pm

shpalman wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 8:47 pm
Got to keep the morons on the tory back benches placated somehow.

Who did they write to, the f.cking king virus?
I had a meeting at the HoC with that MP. He’s an absolute w.nker.

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