29 September 2021
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Is the Delta strain a game changer?

Dr Ross Walker
2 August 2021

With just over 3000 active cases from the Delta variant of the coronavirus in Australia at present, it doesn't appear that this will be fizzling out in the near future. Every day, we hear the statistics around the new cases which, although not markedly increasing, are staying concerningly around the 200 mark, but, thankfully over the past two days, the cases active in the community have only been in the 20s.

Some disturbing evidence from the CDC in the US has suggested that there is a 10 times higher viral load in the airways of people infected with the delta variant, compared with the UK-alpha strain. Interestingly, the viral load in the nose and throat is similar in vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Thankfully, in those people vaccinated, the disease still appears to be much milder, with less ability to infect others.

The CDC has suggested that the Delta variant is much more transmissible than MERS, SARS, Ebola, the common cold, influenza and smallpox. It also appears as contagious as chickenpox.

A disturbing statistic from an article from the New York Times suggests that the viral load of the Delta variant is  1000 times higher compared with the initial strain from Wuhan.

Along with the daily moderate caseload in New South Wales, there now appears to be cases springing up in Queensland, Tasmania and a handful of cases also in Victoria and South Australia. This variant doesn't appear to be as deadly as the initial strain, but this may be purely because of the increased vaccination rates in the sicker, vulnerable groups. We do know, beyond a doubt, that the Delta variant is affecting more young people with modest rates of people below the age of 40 in intensive care and a few requiring ventilation. 

With the only real way out of this pandemic being high levels of vaccination in the community, I would like to make some comments about the lunatic anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. I must say that I am constantly receiving emails from patients, personal friends and business colleagues who have either read, listened or watched abject nonsense on Facebook, YouTube and the Internet. There are a number of so-called experts (which is the last thing you could actually call them) sprouting unscientific garbage regarding the coronavirus.

The origin of the virus is still in dispute with the initial theory, of course, being a virus transmitted by bats into an animal vector and then onto humans in the Wuhan Wet market in China. There is more recent evidence this could possibly have arisen from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, spread intentionally or unintentionally. The jury is still out, but all theories need to be examined and entertained.

But, seemingly intelligent people are still being sucked in by these ridiculous conspiracy theories fabricated by a variety of people around the world. Probably the most bizarre I have heard lately was from a complete fruitcake by the name of Dr Vernon Coleman who is a former English general practitioner who is also a vegan, and AIDS denier, along with a long term conspiracy theorist.

His theories are laughable, to say the least, suggesting that this particular coronavirus was created by a cartel of wealthy people in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry. Just imagine this perfect solution that a very contagious virus has been created which continues to mutate to become even more contagious and possibly more deadly to rid the world of sick, vulnerable, typically elderly people. Their deaths are saving the world environment and billions of dollars each year in healthcare for people in the last five years of their life.

Interestingly, one of the big players in this conspiracy is Bill Gates who has facilitated the creation of this virus and also has been central in the development of the vaccine to combat the virus, purely to make billions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies involved.

If you are stupid enough to believe this, ask yourself the question why Bill and Melinda Gates have spent a significant proportion of their considerable wealth funding programs to support and typically vaccinate developing countries against many infectious diseases. If they were that bent on reducing the world’s population, why would they bother spending so much money to prevent these illnesses, only to fund the research & development of this new virus?

When you receive any email that is titled “This is the most important video I will ever make”, be very suspicious. This fruitcake, Dr Vernon Coleman (and I'm not sure he deserves the title doctor) has suggested that millions of people will die from the vaccine, in a few years’ time. Any of us can make these ridiculous claims about any medical treatment in a few years’ time, because it's not happening at the moment.

I've received emails and messages from people suggesting that 55,000 people have already died from the vaccination. Another piece of unsubstantiated garbage.

Let's look at some of the facts around this:

  1. People who are vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 have almost no chance of dying from the disease or developing severe Covid.
  2. The vast majority of people who are vaccinated have had no significant long-term side-effects.
  3. All medical treatments have potential side-effects and complications of which vaccinations are the least harmful and most beneficial. This has been proven by the eradication or minimisation of a variety of diseases over the past number of decades since vaccination was introduced globally. As an example, the polio vaccine has stopped millions of children being permanently disabled from severe neurological disease.

What is the solution? Although I typically support freedom of choice, let's look at some other facts around some of society’s laws telling us what to do. Firstly, if you do not drive with a seatbelt you can be heavily fined. Seatbelts save lives but, if you are in a serious car accident, you can still die regardless of wearing a seatbelt. But, the seatbelt markedly lessens the chance of serious injury & death, just like vaccines. Thus, the vast majority of people living in our society attach their seat belts as soon as they get in their cars, firstly, because it is law and secondly, because it is common sense to protect yourself just in case you have an accident.

Secondly, all preschoolers in Australia need proof of vaccination against common illnesses before they are allowed to enrol in a preschool. No jab, no play.

Thirdly all high-risk health workers must have a yearly flu vaccine to be able to work in this type of environment such as intensive care, antenatal, neonatal and paediatric wards, along with aged care.

I therefore believe we should immediately have a vaccine passport for those of us who are fully vaccinated to allow us to recommence travel within Australia, attend restaurants and other events such as sporting events or concerts. Basically, no vaccine, therefore no freedom. If you are foolish enough to believe all this anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theory nonsense, that is your right, but there has to be some restrictions on your life if you choose to do so.

Also, rather than making this a suggestion I would have the solid deadline of December 1 when we should be opening up the country to vaccinated tourists allowing all of us who are vaccinated to get back to a normal life.

Regardless of your distorted views, if you are an anti-vaxxer &/or a conspiracy theorist, the facts are not in any form of scientific dispute and whatever distorted reason you have for believing this nonsense, should not be affecting the rest of society most of whom wants to get our lives back to normal.

The next time a friend or colleague sends you one of these ridiculous podcasts or articles, my strong suggestion  is to exercise your democratic right & common sense gene to press the delete button. Don't give these fools any oxygen because they don't deserve it.


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