delta schmelta

Are you spooked by this yet another new strain of COVID?  Don’t be.  When I first wrote about 2019-nCoVBetaCoV/Wuhan/WIVo4/2019 (Mr. Corona’s full name) back on March 13, 2020, just as things were starting to heat up (1), I mentioned that the little sucker mutates like a mink.  The error rate in reading coronavirus RNA is about 1/10,000 nucleotides.  With an average 30K nucleotides per viral genome, that translates to 3 mutations per replication.   So, every time the virus replicates some progeny are different.  Many don’t make it.  Some lose Dad’s punch; some do a few things a little better.  But there are always going to be new strains.  Hopefully, the nasty parts the ChiComs put in will mutate out into something more benign.  Chances are they already have, which is why you’re not seeing nearly as many deaths.  And if you want to get a feel for the magnitude of the pandemic, check out the Johns Hopkins page (2).  I follow those curves like sports scores.  Those curves for Michigan are lower than the Tigers’ standing in the AL Central.  Don’t worry, Uncle is all over this (3).  The delta variant is only a “variant of concern”, meaning “A variant for which there is evidence of an increase in transmissibility, more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalizations or deaths), significant reduction in neutralization by antibodies generated during previous infection or vaccination, reduced effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, or diagnostic detection failures.”  CDC calls the delta strain (as labeled by the WHO) “B.1.617.2 (Pango lineage)”.  Not as catchy.  But more catching than the original COVID-19 out of Wuhan, maybe by as much as 50%.  Its spike protein – the action arm of Mr. Corona – has 15 – count ‘em – 15 mutations from the original Wuhan COVID.  So, what does that mean?  Seems that symptoms from it are like what most people got with Wuhan COVID – remember fewer than 1% died, and most of those were already sick with something else – cough and loss of smell seem to be less common while headache, sore throat, runny nose, and fever seem to be more common (4).  That less cough thing is reassuring, as most of the nasty business from Wuhan COVID was respiratory.  Kinda sounds like a cold or flu, just like coronavirus used to do before the boys and girls in the Wuhan lab started tinkering with it.  Maybe that’s why we’re not seeing another surge in reported cases.  Why see the doc to get a test tube brush stuck up your nose if all you have is a cold?  But what else might those changes in spike protein do?  To those of you who submitted to the stick: what were those little antifreeze-encapsulated RNAs supposed to do?  Make your ribosomes make COVID spike protein so your immune system could react to it!  But the spike protein coded for by Mr. Corona’s great great grandson delta doesn’t look exactly like that anymore.  Would your charged up immune system even recognize it?  If anyone knows, they’ve not written about it yet, except to mention it’s a distinct possibility (3,4). 

One thing that does get written about are vaccine complications.  A lot of the nasty things happening after COVID infection weren’t from direct effects of virus infection, but from the immune system’s exuberant response to the virus attacking other parts of the body, sorta like some of the things I used to take care of as a rheumatologist: those pesky “autoimmune” diseases.  And guess what, some of those same things are happening from immune systems tickled by COVID spike protein made locally:  blood clots, myocarditis (heart inflammation), and Guillain-Barré syndrome (immune attack on peripheral nerves aka “French polio”) (5).  And of course, a lot of the vaccine recipients’ immune systems really don’t like something in the shot (6).  A severe, immediate, and potentially fatal allergic reaction – anaphylaxis – has been reported to occur in 2 to 5 per million vaccine recipients (5).  These complications are rare, but a few vaccine recipients have died.  The vaccine adverse events reporting system (VAERS) tallied that among the people who received the more than 334 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through July 12, 2021, 6,079 died (0.0018%).  The CDC cheated on that last number.  Since more people got 2 shots (Moderna, Pfizer) than 1 (J&J), that percentage is actually higher. Still low, but why did the CDC have to cheat like that?  At this rate, there will come a day when illness and death from the COVID vaccine will exceed the new cases caused by coronavirus.  I wonder if Dr. Fauci will announce that.

In the meantime:


1.         Ike R.  My Corona.

2.         Impact of opening and closing decisions. By state.  Michigan.  7/14/21.  Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

3.         CDC.  SARS-CoV-2 Variant Classifications and Definitions.  7/13/21.

4.         Crist C.  What you need to know about the delta variant.  WebMD Health News 7/12/21

5. CDC.  Selected Adverse Events Reported after COVID-19 Vaccination. 7/13/21

6.         Banerji A, Wickner PG, Saff R, Stone CA, Robinson LB, Long, Aidan A, Wolfson AR, Williams P, Khan DA, Phillips E, Blumenthal KG.  mRNA Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19 Disease and Reported Allergic Reactions: Current Evidence and Suggested Approach.  Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, 2021-04-01. 9 (4):1423-1437


Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

2 thoughts on “delta schmelta

  1. You are a very smart man!!
    I wish you were still working!!!!
    SO many people are hassling me about not being vaccinated! My PCP does NOT recommend it and I am following the advise of MY doctor…..I miss you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am still working, writing like a madman, cooking up a storm, and I clean house, too! Difference is I’m calling the shots and also nobody pays me (except for the quarters Jeff is collecting). My last e-mail to you was my inspiration to write this latest post.

    Happy Bastille Day: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité!

    Liked by 1 person

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