We continue to be unsettled by “experts” who are relying on the concept of “herd immunity” as a promised salvation from the virus scourge. The promises of herd immunity they make invariably contain two fundamental errors.
First, in order to make the leap from the 1.5% of the world who has officially experienced the virus to the 70% or more that needs to have had an infection so that herd immunity can start to kick in, they tell us that the actual number of people who have had the virus is very much larger than the official number. There is plenty of irony that some of those people, in their former guise as virus-deniers, were previously asserting that virus case numbers were enormously over-stated, but are now claiming numbers are vastly under-stated.
Whether the official count is close to correct, greatly understated, or overstated, we’re still so far from 70% as to make it irrelevant.
This error is one which, in time, may become less central, because of course, every day sees another third of a million people newly infected with the virus. It might take a long time, but sooner or later, there’s every chance we could get to 70%. It is the second error that is the more inescapable.
The second error is the belief/claim that once people have been infected and recovered, they are not at risk of being reinfected a second time. Unfortunately, the facts continue to contradict this claim. Frankly, whether the reinfection is because of a different strain, or because the acquired immunity fades over time, is more or less irrelevant. Whatever the reason, increasing numbers of people are being shown to get a second infection.
The response to this was “Oh, well, maybe people might still get a second infection, but it will be weaker than the first one, so it is not important if that happens”. Tell that to the people who survived a relatively mild first infection and then died from their second infection.
The herd immunity hope has of course been massively strengthened by the deployment of vaccines. That will definitely help grow the numbers of hopefully immune people, although it is also unknown how long a vaccination will remain effective – a combination of fading protection and new virus mutations might mean we have to be re-vaccinated every year, maybe more frequently, hopefully less frequently.
While national herd immunity might be created in some lucky countries with ample vaccine availability, it will be a long time before the entire world gets it, and if we need annual re-vaccinating, it might mean that some of the world is always lagging behind the curve.
We were astonished to see Melinda Gates pronounce that we could reach global herd immunity sometime in 2022. Wishing something would be true isn’t the same as making it true.
The CDC is giving us more mixed messages. Although we are now a year into this virus, the CDC still isn’t sure exactly how much social distancing is necessary for safety. Might three feet be enough? Or do we really truly need six feet?
How is it that something that has been such a cornerstone of our public defense against the virus is still so misunderstood?
The other part of this ambiguity is that it provides fodder for the virus-deniers, especially that part of the group who says “social distancing is not necessary”.
We’ve had over half a million people, in the US alone, in the last year, and we’ve spent tens of billions of dollars funding vaccine development and deployment. Why have we not borrowed a few seconds of super-computer CPU time to fully model the spread and risk of aerosolized virus particles and virus droplets in various different atmospheric conditions to determine risk curves, confirmed with real world laboratory testing of aerosol/droplet spread, and come up with an exact set of responses? Why did we not do that in March last year? Unlike vaccines and their long development/trial process, this type of social distance testing could be done in a few weeks, and without even the need for any human guinea pigs at all.
Actually, there’s partially an answer to that. In March, and indeed, for most of last year, the CDC, WHO, and other organizations were more focused on the risk of virus spread by touching an infected surface than they were on the risk of virus spread by droplets and aerosols. This was based on inadequate research done 100 years ago, and accepted unquestioningly almost ever since.
Social distancing, while easy, is also potentially expensive. Ask any restaurant or bar owner about the cost of social distancing and see how they respond! So it is important to get it right.
It is another tragic failure and betrayal by the public health “experts” that this matter is still being discussed and debated, with the suggestion now that maybe 3 ft might sometimes being sufficient being of little comfort to people who have had their businesses bankrupted over the last year due to more stringent restrictions.
Meanwhile, the incompetent fools advocating erroneous policies keep their jobs, their pensions, and their benefits.
The conclusion – and you don’t need to read the CDC study to guess what it is, do you – is that mask mandates are helpful and have saved lives.
But look at the two charts above. The change between mask-wearing and unmasked outcomes is trivial – in the realm of one or two percent, and that’s before you start to consider all the dozens of other variables that go into case rates and how they were adjusted for. The data is almost valueless and without meaning. That is not to say that masks are valueless, it is just to say that this study is valueless.
Now here’s the thing. If a similar study was conducted to evaluate ivermectin, it would be laughed off the stage, its supporters denigrated as being members of the extreme loony fringe, and the study flipped around to show how nonsensical the claims are for ivermectin. But because this study is for something that conforms to the official narrative – mask wearing is good – it is uncritically endorsed by the CDC.
There were no changes in US state rankings, either for cases or deaths.
The minor countries had no changes, and in the major countries, Sweden moved up to fourth place, while Belgium – seemingly not all that long ago in first place, is now down to fifth place. The Czech Republic continues to suffer an extraordinary rate of new case growth.
On the death rate list, the US moved up one place, matched by Portugal dropping one place.
US Best and Worst States
|A week ago||Now||A week ago||Now|
|1 Best||HI (19,699)||HI (19,959)||HI (314)||HI (319)|
|2||VT (25,774)||VT (27,068)||VT (333)||VT (343)|
|4||OR (37,291)||OR (37,844)||ME (525)||ME (539)|
|5||WA (45,661)||WA (46,297)||OR (544)||OR (551)|
|47||IA (116,337)||IA (117,451)||MS (2,288)||MS (2,319)|
|48||UT (116,923)||UT (118,024)||MA (2,382)||MA (2,415)|
|49||RI||RI||RI (2,399)||RI (2,423)|
|50||SD||SD||NY (2,497)||NY (2,529)|
|51 Worst||ND (131,736)||ND (132,504)||NJ (2,654)||NJ (2,691)|
Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Andorra (142,756)||Andorra (145,646)|
|2||Montenegro (127,004)||Montenegro (133,243)|
|3||Gibraltar (126,143)||Gibraltar (126,559)|
|4||San Marino||San Marino|
|9||Aruba (75,741)||Aruba (78,396)|
|10||Lithuania (75,000)||Lithuania (76,197)|
Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (123,229)||Czech Republic (130,475)|
|2||USA (89,359)||USA (90,509)|
|3||Portugal (79,605)||Portugal (80,019)|
|7||Netherlands (65,270)||Netherlands (67,430)|
|8||UK (61,919)||UK (62,499)|
|9||France (59,723)||France (62,282)|
|11||Italy (50,785)||Italy (53,364)|
|12||Poland (47,462)||Poland (50,417)|
Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)
|Rank||One Week Ago||Today|
|1||Czech Republic (2,025)||Czech Republic (2,166)|
|2||Belgium (1,913)||Belgium (1,929)|
|3||UK (1,827)||UK (1,842)|
|4||Italy (1,652)||Italy (1,691)|
|5||Portugal (1,625)||USA (1,646)|
|6||USA (1,618)||Portugal (1,640)|
|7||Spain (1,521)||Spain (1,545)|
|8||Mexico (1,466)||Mexico (1,497)|
|9||Peru (1,433)||Peru (1,467)|
|10||France (1,355)||France (1,383)|
I Am Not a Doctor, But….
Here’s an interesting article about how the US is keeping tens of millions of doses of the troubled AstraZeneca vaccine in stockpiles. Part of President Trump’s excellent Operation Warp Speed plan was buying an over-supply of vaccines, and from multiple different companies, so that whatever vaccines ended up being approved, we’d already have a headstart with tens of millions of doses already in inventory. That is why we bought all the AstraZeneca vaccines originally.
But now that we’ve also secured an abundant oversupply of the three approved vaccines that are now being given to people in the US, why are we still keeping the AstraZeneca vaccine doses? There are still some countries willing to chance their luck with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and they are desperate for as many doses as they can obtain.
Why aren’t we selling, or even giving, these unneeded and unwanted vaccine doses to those countries?
Talking about the troubled AstraZeneca vaccine, the list of countries that are stopping their deployment of it is growing. It certainly is puzzling – AstraZeneca claims there is no problem at all between their vaccine and blood clots forming, but more and more countries are thinking there is valid cause for concern.
Weren’t the vaccine trial stages supposed to clearly identify and establish if the vaccine was safe or not?
Is this baseless fearmongering on a global scale, all the more extraordinary when the countries in question are desperate for vaccines? Or is there some amazing shortcoming/oversight in AstraZeneca’s trialing procedures that allowed a serious safety issue to sneak through, apparently undetected?
For all its failures and problems, we continue to be so extremely thankful that the FDA has refused to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Timings And Numbers
We were talking about herd immunity in our opening remarks. This chart shows the world as a whole has had a 4% single vaccine rate, so about 2% of the world has been fully vaccinated so far. Truly, it will take a very long time for the global vaccination rate to get to a potential herd immunity point.
Much has been made of the dropping new case numbers in the US, a drop which remains as completely unexplained as it is welcome. But within our parochial rejoicing, we should not overlook the similarly puzzling returns to increasing case numbers in South America and Europe, and somewhat lesserly so in Asia, with the result being that globally, case numbers are starting to rise again.
I continue to anxiously check the numbers every day, for fear that our own falling numbers will reverse and start rising again. So far so good.
It surprises me that the terrible situation in the Czech Republic gets very little coverage, while countries with comparatively mild rates of new case growth get all the headlines. In the last week, the Czech Republic had 7,176 new cases per million people, whereas Italy had a three times lower rate of 2579. But Italy gets headlines such as this.
Closings and Openings
I mentioned and showed, above, how the EU is experiencing renewed growth in new case numbers. But let’s not allow reality to interfere with what we’d wish were the truth, and so, notwithstanding growing new cases, EU countries are keen to relax their travel restrictions.
In the US, there are now 16 states that no longer mandate face mask wearing. It will be interesting to see if this causes any shifts in US case rates.
Please stay happy and healthy; all going well, I’ll be back again on Thursday.