President Biden's oft-repeated belief that COVID-19 remains a "pandemic of the unvaccinated" is running headlong into global data on the real-world performance of vaccines against the Omicron variant, which the CDC estimates now accounts for 19 in 20 U.S. infections.
A new study by Ontario, Canada's public health agency and health researchers at Canadian universities found that two-dose mRNA vaccines are "not protective against" the new variant, while the booster shot only improves effectiveness to 37% seven or more days later.
That's in stark contrast to the 93% effectiveness against the Delta variant they observed among vaccinated and boosted individuals seven or more days later. Researchers reviewed provincial data on 3,442 Omicron positives, 9,201 Delta positives and 471,545 "test-negative controls."
There were important differences between the populations testing positive for each variant. Omicron cases were 10 years younger on average, more likely to be male and two-dose vaccinated, and less likely to have "any comorbidities" or a booster, relative to controls. Delta cases were far less likely to be vaccinated at all, relative to controls.
Digging further into the preprint, which hasn't been peer-reviewed, California-based epidemiologist Tracy Hoeg was floored that two-dose vaccination actually reduced protection from reinfection by Omicron 38% four to six months after injection, and 42% by eight months.
"Why mandate?" Hoeg tweeted while acknowledging the Ontario Public Health study didn't look at vaccine effectiveness against severe COVID infections.
The Danish-American citizen highlighted official Denmark data suggesting two-dose vaccine recipients are "equally" protected against ICU admissions as boosted individuals. Their reinfections have surpassed those of the unvaccinated, however, and the boosted are "catching up."
Denmark also got attention Wednesday from the anonymous COVID data analyst known as "ianmSC," whose Twitter account is known for its original charts. It claimed the country, widely praised for its high vaccination rate, had set a single-day internal record for COVID cases.
While fact-checker Snopes branded the account's November tweet about a Vermont COVID spike "misleading," the Denmark chart appears to match the country's chart on the Reuters COVID-19 tracker. The wire service said Denmark reported 26,200 cases Wednesday, its largest single-day total.
"Assuming every person needs 2 doses," the country has administered enough vaccine doses to inoculate "about 105.4% of the country’s population," the Reuters tracker said.
It gave a lower estimate for fully vaccinated Danes — 78% — in a report on a new Danish government study. Researchers found Omicron was 2.7 to 3.7 times more infectious than Delta among vaccinated people in a study of nearly 12,000 Danish households.
The preprint concluded Omicron's rapid spread "can be ascribed to the immune evasiveness rather than an inherent increase in the basic transmissibility," but that boosted individuals are less likely than the unvaccinated to transmit any variant.
British government data published shortly before Christmas found highly vaccinated individuals have a heightened susceptibility to Omicron infections, though the Office for National Statistics (ONS) didn't offer an explanation why.
The odds ratio for Omicron infection among COVID positives goes up for each vaccine dose: unvaccinated (1), one dose (1.57), two doses (2.26) and three doses (4.45). "It is too early to draw conclusions from our data on the effectiveness of vaccines against the Omicron variant," the ONS said.
It noted other factors that were also associated with Omicron: age groups 20-39, those living in urban or "deprived" areas, the previously infected and those who recently traveled abroad. "Some evidence" suggests self-identified ethnic minorities are more associated with Omicron than whites.
"These early results are based only on the first fortnight's data that have sufficient cases for analysis on the Omicron variant, so caution is advised," the ONS said. It emphasized that people who received any vaccine dose were still less likely to test positive for COVID, "regardless of variant."
Its sample only included "strong positives," defined as so-called PCR tests showing positives using a cycle threshold of 30 or lower.
Medical experts have long warned that common testing protocols were using cycle thresholds far above 30, which are prone to catch dead virus or negligible viral loads. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently reiterated that PCR tests can return positives up to 12 weeks after an infection clears.
The White House press office did not respond to Just the News requests to defend Biden's "pandemic of the unvaccinated" slogan in light of global data.