Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 7 January, 2021

Why do I write these diary entries, twice a week, every week?  Sometimes I ask myself this question, because for sure, it takes up a lot of time, and I’ve received some very negative comments, usually of the form “You’re not a doctor, shut up”.  Because, you know, doctors have unanimously agreed on everything and have done such a brilliant job so far……

The answer to this question comes in rarely, but is always appreciated when it does.  I got this email earlier in the week :

Hello David. Just an update on my family. My son tested positive 10 days after Thanksgiving.  The next day my husband and I took tests.  He was positive.  I was negative.  At 80+, it was frightening to get his news.  My pregnant daughter and eventually her partner tested positive.  They live 7 hours away but had visited here.  Placing no blame, but we’re guessing my son caught it when he was at a meeting with new boss and doing walk thru on new house.

The advice in your book was so helpful. I dosed everyone with your recommendations and they actually took everything.  Everyone including my husband had mild symptoms that would have been ignored in 2019.  My brother has since lost his sense of taste but he too has recovered.  I remain negative.  Everyone is fine now!!!

I want to thank you for your part in their recovery.

This is why – the hope that I’m able to help a few of you, my readers, and often my friends, in a case where there is too much confusing and conflicting information out there, making it very difficult to know what to accept and what to reject.

To be clear, I’m not saying the recommendations in my book guarantee anything at all, nor am I claiming as deserved the credit this writer kindly gives me.  But I am saying that many doctors, all around the world, are adopting similar treatment plans to those I describe in the book, with positive results more often than not.  Meanwhile, the official response in the US remains that if you’re infected, do nothing and hope for the best.  We all deserve better than that dismissive statement.

The reluctance in the US to embrace low-cost and totally safe medications as early treatments to head off the infection becoming serious, and even to use as preventative measures is astonishing, because it is inconsistent.  Think about the vaccines.  After a rushed and compressed testing and trialing, totally new types of vaccines using technologies that in the past have consistently given problems, are now being pushed out into the market.  And, not only that.  In the last week or so, our public health leaders, with no convincing evidence in support, no testing, no trialing, nothing at all, have advocated :

  • Delaying the second dose so as to give twice as many people one dose – even though the major vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer, strongly says that should not be done, the second major manufacturer, Moderna, never tested/trialed that, and the new manufacturer, AstraZeneca, has such a mishmash of partial trials, mistakes, and results, as to have little or anything truly convincing, while having enough of everything to “prove” anything you might wish to advocate for (don’t ask me how it is that such a curious series of different trials resulted in their vaccine being approved).  Even WHO risked offending a major sponsor nation and said there is no evidence to support that strategy.
  • Mixing and matching any vaccine with any other vaccine for the first and second doses, even though the vaccine manufacturers argue against that too, and with two totally different types of vaccines, it would be like mixing together oil-based and water-based paints, or petrol and diesel.
  • Halving the vaccine dose, because a different vaccine for a different ailment also works at half strength, and, of course, if a different vaccine works for a different ailment at half strength, we’re then expected to believe that all vaccines work against all viruses at half strength  If indeed that were so, it begs the question, why are we always giving people twice as much vaccine as is needed?  (This recommendation seems to be fading away, thank goodness, and also the justification for it, this article for example has been rewritten to remove reference to a malaria vaccine which does not even exist working at half strength).

No part of any of these three suggestions makes sense nor are they supported by evidence, and it is terrifying that our public health leaders are eagerly advocating them, with no research and no testing.

Why are these concepts being promoted, while thoroughly tested and trialed anti-viral measures are out there but the same people, so desperate to change how we administer vaccines, refuse to consider them?

This glaring inconsistency astonishes me.

For the record, I’m not saying don’t get vaccinated.  But I am definitely proud to stand up and be counted and to go on the record as saying if you do choose to be vaccinated, make sure your two vaccine shots are of the same vaccine, at the recommended interval between shots, and at the recommended dose.

One more introductory item.  The issue of where the virus originated and came into being has been one of the most emotional of all, with China’s international “army” of well-paid supporters and shills rushing in to kill any suggestion that China had anything to do with the virus origination, and only reluctantly conceding that, purely by chance and an extraordinarily unlikely sequence of events, it may have naturally first appeared in China.  Our outgoing President’s eagerness to describe the virus as the China virus or the Wuhan virus put the final nail in the coffin of rational discussion on that, much as his citing hydroxychloroquine as a possible cure ensured that no Trump-hater would permit it to be considered, even going as far as to create fake data to “prove” that HCQ doesn’t work and is dangerous (yes, this actually happened and was published in Britain’s most prestigious medical journal, The Lancet).

But now, here is the best piece I’ve come across, examining the issue calmly and coolly and without rhetoric or bias, and gives a fair airing to both sides of the argument as to the virus’ origins.  The writer’s conclusions appear compelling and irrefutable.  It is a lengthy piece, but is well written and very important reading if you wish to understand more about this issue.

Current Numbers

In the US, Tennessee dropped two places and now is 49th worst.  ND and SD dropped off the worst part of the death list, and now CT and RI feature, instead.

Gibraltar has vaulted up three places and now is the second worst small country in terms of case rates.  The UK moved up a position on the major country list and shows every sign of moving further up, depending on how soon their new “total lockdown” kicks in.

On the death list, the UK moved up two places to fourth place, and the US moved up one place to sixth.  It seems likely both countries will move up another place in the next week.

US Best and Worst States

RankCases/MillionDeaths/Million
A week agoNowA week agoNow
1 BestVT (11,878)VT (13,467)HI (203)HI (211)
2HIHIVT (218)VT (248)
3MEMEMEME
4ORORAKAK
5WA (32,329)WA (35,165)OR (350)OR (372)
47TN (85,926)IA (92,475)SD (1,682)CT (1,763)
48UT (86,281)UT (92,739)NDRI
49IATN (92,872)MAMA
50SDSDNYNY
51 WorstND (121,375)ND (123,554)NJ (2,161)NJ (2,223)

 

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Andorra (104,090)Andorra (107,953)
2MontenegroGibraltar
3LuxembourgMontenegro
4San MarinoSan Marino
5GibraltarLuxembourg
6French PolynesiaSlovenia
7SloveniaPanama (61,862)
8GeorgiaFrench Polynesia
9LiechtensteinLiechtenstein
10Panama (55,824)Georgia (59,092)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Czech Republic (67,046)Czech Republic (74,141)
2USA (61,501)USA (66,660)
3Belgium (55,467)Belgium (56,451)
4NetherlandsNetherlands
5SwedenSweden
6SpainPortugal
7PortugalSpain (43,300)
8FranceUK (42,447)
9UK (36,565)France
10BrazilBrazil
11ArgentinaArgentina
12Italy (34,877)Italy (36,752)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

RankOne Week AgoToday
1Belgium (1,674)Belgium (1,712)
2ItalyItaly
3PeruCzech Rep (1,177)
4SpainUK (1,153)
5Czech Rep (1,080)Peru (1,146)
6UK (1,080)USA (1,127)
7USA (1,065)Spain (1,105)
8France (989)France (1,023)
9Mexico (964)Mexico (1,003)
10Argentina (951)Argentina (972)

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

I’ve just finished, above, writing about how China is so extremely sensitive to any suggestion it might have had an active role in the virus development and release.  Astonishingly, it is now refusing to allow in a WHO group of “investigators” to come and make some pronouncements on the virus origins.  This is astonishing, because WHO has been reliably deferential to China at every step, and the group appears to include some extremely China-friendly people who could be almost guaranteed to whitewash China’s role.  That seems like an own-goal on China’s part, not only by not allowing these people to provide some institutional cover and credible denial for China, but by their action keeping them out of the country, exposing their unwillingness to allow anyone – no matter how friendly – to make any direct evaluation of what happened and how.

Still talking about China, one of the very biggest mysteries to me – a bit like “the dog that didn’t bark” – is how they managed to keep their initial outbreak to such small numbers and so localized, and how, ever since, they’ve kept the virus almost 100% out of the country.  I can understand how New Zealand managed this – a small country with efficient communications and social messaging, and a relatively easy process to get unanimity of purpose among its people and to close down completely its borders.  But China?  Its borders are about as porous as ours are, and its people are fragmented and spread across a broader range of demographic groups than here in the US.

Perhaps we’re now being treated to a display of how China keeps its virus numbers down.  A minor outbreak of just over 100 new cases in a city in Hebei province has seen the country act very quickly to lockdown the entire region, and put in place 5,000 testing centers to test everyone in the near future in the affected area (11 million people).

There’s nothing magic about that at all.  It is simple, assertive, and effective.  Wouldn’t you rather be locked down, unable to travel or do much at all for a couple of weeks, then be able to return back to normal life, free of masks, distancing, and fear?  Is it possible the Chinese approach is better than ours?  Let the numbers speak for themselves :  In terms of total cases reported, China is reporting 61 cases per million, for the entire period since the start of the outbreak a year ago.  We are reporting 830 cases per million.  But – get this.  Our 830 cases per million – that isn’t for the entire period.  That is for yesterday, one single day.  In one single day, we had 13 times more cases than China has had in total.  Our total count is 66,660 – 1,100 times higher than China.  As for deaths, China reports 3 per million, we’re reporting 1,127.

Yes, I know China’s cases and deaths are probably massively under-reported.  But I also know, from first-hand accounts of people in China, that after the initial outbreak in Wuhan was contained, life rapidly returned back to normal in the country.  Life has never been normal here, not since March last year.

Another in the regular flow of articles talking about the promise of ivermectin in treating people – this article suggests it might reduce the death risk of hospitalized patients by 80%.  There have been headlines excitedly reveling in news about expensive new experimental treatments, with limited availability, offering perhaps 10% or so improvements in the death rate.  So where are the headlines for ivermectin in the mainstream press?

We’ll guess that ivermectin might also help prevent people from suffering from “long-haul” covid – the term used to describe people who continue to suffer debilitating symptoms of the disease for many months after an infection.  Here’s some more about long-haul Covid.

Vaccine News

Have you seen the scare headlines about the number of people suffering extreme allergic reactions after being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine?  Here’s an example, more even-handed than some.  But if you actually drill down into the numbers, of the 21 reported severe cases, 17 were of people with known allergy problems.  Only four were a surprise.  No-one died.  And the reaction rate – even including the 17 at-risk people – is about the same as a regular ‘flu vaccine.

If you don’t have allergy problems, you can confidently get the vaccine.  If you are sensitive to some drugs, make sure your Epi-pen is handy, and stay nearby for observation for at least quarter of an hour.

While there are reasons to be cautious before choosing to be vaccinated, this is not one of them.

Update :  One person has now died, although it is unclear if this is because of the vaccine or merely a coincidental combination of unrelated medical issues.

We’re still waiting to get conclusive results on how effective the current vaccines will be against the new more infectious forms of the virus, but this article suggests, as we learn more about the changes in the virus, it seems increasingly likely that present vaccines may not be fully effective.

The good news about the new mRNA vaccines is that it is probably going to be a fairly easy thing to build a new mRNA type vaccine to counter the new strain, and if the new vaccine doesn’t need to go through all the trialing and testing the first vaccines did, it could be deployed very quickly.  That is indeed good news.  But what is not completely clear is whether there are any limits on how many different vaccines can be administered via mRNA techniques, or how quickly.  Also, will we need to get now four vaccines rather than two – two for the first virus, and two more for the second variant?  How long before yet another variant comes along?  Where will this end – will it become like the common cold, impossible to vaccinate against because there are too many strains?  Remember also that each new strain provides a base for more strains to evolve from, and with growing numbers of strains, and growing numbers of cases, the rate of new strain appearances is going to increase rapidly.

The headline says “Widespread Coronavirus Variant Expected to Make Pandemic ‘Much, Much More Deadly’ “.  But it doesn’t mean your chances of dying from the virus are greater.  It just means your chances of getting the virus are greater.

Timings And Numbers

After reporting 9 states with new case rates starting to drop on Sunday, this reduced to 7 on Monday, then went happily up to 13 on Tuesday, before dropping to 9 on Wednesday and 5 today.

As I’d expected, Maine moved out of the worst case part of the list, and now is thoroughly in the middle.  New York’s numbers continue to rise though; if this doesn’t reverse in the next week or so, it might risk revisiting the terrible times of March.

Closings and Openings

Put England, and indeed, most of Britain, on the closed list.  England is locked down until mid-February, but their PM is talking about possibly extending it as far out as the end of March.

There’s really no reason why it should have to extend two and a half months.  A week or two of lockdown sees most of the currently infected/infectious people move out of their infectious state, and another couple of weeks catch any new cases that “leaked” out of the lockdown.  A longer period seems to contain within it the assumption that the lockdown will be only partially observed and only partially successful.  Why not instead enforce a short sharp lockdown – like ripping a Bandaid off quickly – rather than allowing an extended lockdown to meander on for months due to some people ignoring it.  Details here.

Shortages

One of the shortages I’ve warned about and feature in Chapter 17 of my book is that of oxygen.  It also provides some solutions to the problem.  That shortage is now unfolding, with oxygen being restricted/rationed in some Los Angeles hospitals, and in short supply elsewhere.

I don’t claim any special powers of divination for predicting this, though – it was running low back in March/April also, and it seemed reasonable to anticipate future shortages.

Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Sunday.

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