This question still needs to be asked given the probability, lack of disproof, and immensity of the consequences.
July 25, 2021
I want as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
I’m the opposite of an anti-vaxxer. [see: “How to Make Someone Take His Vaccination”]
We need good science, as much as possible. This requires good rationality. This requires a good view of reality. In reality, there is no choice as to what one perchance wants or does not want to see ― including the deeper aspects of the human mind. [see: “The Basic Cognitive Illusion”]
Also to me, 80% would be surprisingly high, but not unimaginable. We’ve seen comparable things in the history of medicine.
I use the image of a whirlpool in which virus- and mind-related factors enhance each other. [see: “COVID-Whirlpool”] Thus, the virus may be 100% needed, and still, mind-related factors may also be needed to get the morbid or even deadly whirlpool going. The vaccine’s placebogenic help to drop the mind factors to below a threshold may be enough. The ‘placebo’ may in this case also be thought of as a diminishment of nocebo. One can think of it as taking a few steps towards inside or outside a whirlpool. Not much is needed for a huge difference. For several reasons, it’s still important to know what is really happening. [see: “Why it Matters to Know the Real Effectiveness.”] It is unfathomable to me to see the absence of research, and even the active denial of researchers in this. I just do not get it. Additionally, there is general denial by the population globally. This doesn’t show the power of (dis)belief. That has been shown by other research well enough. But it sure shows the amount of (dis)believers. Multiplicate and be surprised of nothing.
Logically, if you have more than one +/- necessary condition to a consequence, and you take out any of them, the consequence is +/- not reached anymore. In COVID, young age is such a condition. In my view, mind-related factors (‘stress’) are another one. Of course, ‘stress’ as a category is much too blunt. [see: “Not Stress but Meaning is a Cause of Disease.”] Note that since the start, practically no experimental research has been done regarding the causal influence of the mind on COVID progression. The few small studies that I know of were positive.
COVID may be pretty much a psycho-somatic disease, with the mind playing a causal role in COVID progression to an as yet unknown degree. [see: “The Role of Social Nocebo in COVID-19”] Circumstantial evidence tells a story with virus and mind at the center. I urge everybody to take this seriously. [see: “Minding COVID: a Different Story”]
About placebo and nocebo
It’s not entirely correct to speak exclusively about the placebo effect of a vaccine. It’s possibly as much about the diminishment of nocebo through feeling the safety of being vaccinated. [see: “Is Social Nocebo Real?”] These concepts have fuzzy borders. For the sake of easiness, I keep talking about placebo in this text.
Suppose there is an 80% placebo effect of vaccination. Even so, there would be a 20% effect of the ‘naked’ vaccine. More importantly, the 80% placebo would need the vaccine itself to be realized.
If you, dear reader, would think that we would just need to grab the placebo effect and leave the vaccine in the bottle, I would advise you to think some more. It’s by far not that simple.
7-day average COVID deaths on the 24th of July
I did the same exercise as on the 3rd of June 2021, comparing last year to this, and coming to the same overall picture:
Is this positive or negative? In my view, we’re not where we want to be. There’s still a huge need to use every available instrument, even ourselves.
Again, taking a few other European countries, same day of same month, 7-day averages:
These countries + Belgium together:
As you can see, there were 2.5 x more deaths yesterday (7-day average) than precisely a year ago. Meanwhile, in all these countries, vaccinations are fully on their way.
So is the delta-variant, and so are other variants that we don’t yet know. Several may be brooding in remote places or even in Europe. The more we whirl around geographically, the better the virus likes it.
Of course, most of the mortality happens in the group of non-vaccinated people. The issue is not with this but with what is happening under the hood.
Let’s look at the data from some other countries (the same list as on the 3rd of June), 7-day averages:
In the US, the situation is much better now than a year ago. The whole world remembers the mental turmoil of last year, the politicization, the panic and despair. I dare say these may have been crucial factors. This accords well with the minding-corona hypothesis.
What also strikes me are the huge ups and downs in individual countries. There may be several explanations for this. One of them is a whirlpool phenomenon in which the mind plays a substantial role.
About the adversary
Looking at the virus as a conglomerate of all viral particles globally, we have a flexible ‘adversary.’ It continually changes. Its tentacles (variants) constantly spread in many directions. Its one goal is to be successful as a conglomerate, which one can see as an organism in its own right.
Its ‘thinking’ is done through sheer trial and error. It doesn’t want to kill us. It wants to use us. We’re its fertile ground. If it kills us all, it will also disappear. Unfortunately, ‘trial and error’ isn’t an ingenious strategy. This means that a far deadlier version may be on its way. Many scientists were expecting this already before COVID. It’s one more reason to take our mind-related resources seriously and try to make the most of it, not only for the sake of now.
From the standpoint of the virus, its strategy is efficient enough for the time being. Its main thrust seems to lie in speed and flexibility, tricking our psycho-neuro-immune system while not looking back in searching for new ground. This makes us vulnerable in specific ways and possibly for yet a long time.
The huge initial COVID studies
I still see and hear experts talk about the Pfizer & Moderna studies (together 65.000 subjects) and others as double-blindmega-studies showing huge efficacy. This is wrong in the following sense:
- The mega-studies were about adverse reactions. Well done.
- Only +/- 340 people got COVID-diagnosed in the Pfizer & Moderna studies together. This number was set beforehand. These 340 were the ones on which the comparison was made between vaccinated and non-vaccinated subjects. So, the efficacy study was done on a mediocre number of subjects. Concerning efficacy, these were not mega-studies.
Moreover, as I described in some BMJ responses, these studies were substantially flawed (see references). The double-blind quality was meager, and an inadvertent placebo-proneness may have significantly skewed the results. [see: “COVID Vaccination Studies: From Double-Blind to Hardly-Blind?”]
The public vaccination results
As described in [see: “Vaccine or Vaccination?”], the scale of the happenings is no guarantee that the supposed hypothesis is correct. I mentioned a few examples. The most interesting function of science – including medical – is to ensure that common-sense suppositions are not false.
Compare it to a stage magician. Many people, including M.D.s and Ph.D.’s may be in the audience. The magician pulls a rabbit out of his hat. Wow! How did he do this? Nobody sees how. So, is he a real magician? Of course not! Yet, the rabbit is real.
Back to COVID vaccinations. The results are real and visible to anybody. But they do not prove the cause. So, where is the causal thinking that also takes the mind into account? It is nowhere.
Also, depending on the type of virus, the science on the efficiency of vaccinations isn’t all that straightforward, as shown by a Cochrane report on influenza. [see: “MINDING CORONA, Saving Livelihoods and Lives”]
What we need is good science, as much as possible, especially now. This is more than the one that makes us comfortable in desirable suppositions.
But… so many people?
Can all these people be subject to the placebo effect?
Sure. All you need for this is a brain (and body). Placebo is related to a natural characteristic of how the brain works not only in special circumstances but all the time. [see: “Placebo and the Predictive Brain“]
Research on suggestiveness also shows that almost everyone is prone to the placebo effect with enough flexibility in how it is brought. Moreover, in the case of COVID vaccinations, we have several characteristics that specifically enhance their placebogenic power, such as:
- The placebo effect of injections is notably more significant than that of pills.
- The more people involved, the bigger the placebo effect. Here, the whole world is involved.
- We see huge ‘marketing’ efforts towards making people be vaccinated.
- The initial studies keep being projected as massive studies proving the efficacy.
- Most people are (very) eager to get the shots as lifesavers.
- Many people have to wait a considerable time for their shots.
- People see that massive efforts are being done to get the shots at the right place.
- Nobody talks about a possible placebo effect.
- Much weight is given to the idea of ‘This is a triumph of science.’ ― I still hope it will be.
A placebo effect of 80% would mean that the mind is a powerful instrument if we can make good use of it. This text by itself does not indicate how important mind-stuff is.
We could have investigated it in conjunction with the vaccination studies. Understandably, there was no interest in this. The pharmaceutical companies wanted to build their case.
At present, performing double-blinded vaccination studies with additional arms to investigate the placebo part is not feasible.
This app contains information and many mental exercises. [see: “Free App to Relieve COVID”] I developed it last year specifically towards COVID (while also valuable for other fields). It is for free, forever. If you think this is ‘commercial,’ please tell me what to do differently.
This app can be used straightforwardly in studies to investigate, well, the efficacy and effectiveness of the app, while at the same time also the influence of the mind on COVID progression ― what should have been done already a year ago. It can be used preventively inside and outside of hospitals. Double-blind studies are not possible. Also, they are less needed since a placebo arm would basically just show more influence from the mind. This stands open to argumentation as part of the study. After the study, the same app can be implemented on a vast scale.
Positive results would show the influence of the mind on COVID-progression, possibly also infectiousness. Let’s not dwell on what could have been. It only breaks my heart. If positive to very positive, there would be severe consequences towards the future, such as:
- New variants may break through vaccinations more quickly.
- People who don’t want to be vaccinated may better protect themselves (and others).
- Protection may be brought where there is no money for mass vaccinations.
- It’s low cost. Even better, it’s +/- no cost.
- It may be an opening to psycho-somatic insights and implementation in many fields.
- It may bring the importance of empathy and Compassion into medical science.
Serendipitously, I read today: https://www.brusselstimes.com/news/belgium-all-news/health/178864/research-how-a-new-covid-variant-sows-its-seeds/
“The study, the largest of its kind, looked at the alpha variant of the virus, previously known as the Kent or British variant. At one time it was thought that the variant was 80% more transmissible than the standard virus, which accounted for its rapid spread. But the new study shows that is not true. In fact, the alpha variant spread by a succession of ‘super-seeder’ events.”
These new data are compatible with my ‘Brexit Stress’ rapid response to BMJ of December: https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4944/rr-1 . Put ‘stress’ as a super seeder in the events, and you’re there.
Meanwhile, I’m worried about the theta-plus-variant.
Rest assured, that one doesn’t exist yet, except in my nightmare. But with the numbers of today and the mind-boggling negligence of the human species, the viral organism may get there soon enough.
Note that the delta-variant appears to be somewhat more vaccine-resistant. The theta-plus-variant may be pretty vaccine-resistant and adapted to youth. From the virus’s standpoint, both would be obvious win situations.
Need I make some drawings?
Meanwhile, in the news already [ https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/22/1019475669/delta-variant-will-drive-a-steep-rise-in-covid-deaths-model-shows ]:
“The current COVID-19 surge in the U.S. — fueled by the highly contagious delta variant — will steadily accelerate through the summer and fall, peaking in mid-October, with daily deaths more than triple what they are now. … It’s a deflating prospect for parents looking ahead to the coming school year, employers planning to get people back to the workplace and everyone hoping that the days of big national surges were over.”
I fear even this is optimistic.