Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 21 March, 2021

 

I had a minor epiphany this morning.  I’d just finished reading an article about travel to Europe this summer seemingly becoming more problematic, and was looking at the chart below and the encouraging steep lines showing increasing vaccination numbers in both the UK and US (and the much flatter lines for other regions) and decided that it is likely to be feasible to consider travel to Britain but perhaps not to Europe, with later in summer offering a better probability of the least amount of possible confounding factors that is the case earlier in the season.

As a result of this epiphany, I’ve decided to offer three tours to Britain between mid August and mid September – my expectation being they are likely to be able to proceed and offer tour members a good experience.  The first tour is to Wales, the second to Scotland, and the third to England.  You can combine them if you wish, because the dates run consecutively after each other.  If you do both the Scotland and England tours, you also have a chance to do the famous “From John O’Groats to Land’s End” journey all the way from the south westerly point of England to the north easterly point of Scotland.

I’ll have detailed pages and itineraries up on these three tours later in the week, and wanted to mention it now because August isn’t really all that far away.

Yes, I’ll be limiting the tours only to people who can show vaccination certificates.  I’ve noticed this looks like becoming the standard practice for cruises these days, and while not an absolute guarantee, seems a prudent and appropriate measure to adopt.  Which I guess means I’ll have to step up and get the jab myself.  Well, I’ll wait another month or so for that….

I’ve created a new chart.  As you may have noticed over the last few diary entries, I’ve been increasingly focused on our daily case rate – is it going up or down each day?  There were of course extended periods in the past where the answer to that question was very obvious, including the time, as you can see, from 11 January through to 21 February where there was a wonderful and strong drop every day.

But since 21 February, the changes have become more subtle.  Accordingly, I’ve created this new chart that shows two different sets of data – a seven day rolling average for daily new cases reported, and the percent change in that rolling average each day.  The second data – the orange colored line – shows very clearly when the numbers go above or below the 0%, more so than simply looking at each day’s bar line.

I hope this helps give you a perspective on what is happening from day to day in the US.  I’m still playing with the format of the data presentation, and once I’ve “locked” it in, I’ll start tweeting this every morning (along with the daily tweet on changing air passenger numbers).  You can follow my tweeting here.

There’s been a lot of talk about vaccination side effects over the last week or two – both in the concept of the extremely rare blood clotting side effect that may (or may not) be associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and more broadly in general.  Here, for example, is an article talking about how the side effects seem to be stronger after the second vaccination (if you’re taking a two-dose vaccine) than the first.

But there’s one thing that few if any of these articles make clear.  The side effects are vastly less unpleasant than a dose of the virus itself, directly!  Don’t let concern over side effects such as a sore arm or headache for a day deter you from the vaccination.

Current Numbers

There were no changes in ranking in the US.

In the small country list, it is interesting to note that Gibraltar has now vaccinated its entire adult population.  That might seem impressive, but to put it into perspective, Gibraltar’s total population is a mere 33,684.  I see their case count is currently 4,270 (and 94 deaths), and has been at those numbers for several days, and it has moved down another place in the rankings.  It will be interesting to watch its numbers.

We also have a new country at the bottom of the small country list – Saint Barthelemy, a tiny island in the Caribbean with a population of 9,899 and a French “collective”.

Talking about France, it moved up a place in the major country list, as also did the Netherlands.

There were no changes in the death table.

US Best and Worst States

Rank Cases/Million Deaths/Million
A week ago Now A week ago Now
1 Best HI (19,959) HI (20,322) HI (319) HI (321
2 VT (27,068) VT VT (343) VT
3 ME ME AK AK
4 OR (37,844) OR ME (539) ME (542)
5 WA (46,297) WA (46,978) OR (551) OR (560)
47 IA (117,451) IA (118,458) MS (2,319) MS (2,337)
48 UT (118,024) UT (119,037) MA (2,415) MA (2,447)
49 RI RI RI (2,423) RI (2,450)
50 SD SD NY (2,529) NY (2,555)
51 Worst ND (132,504) ND (133,389) NJ (2,691) NJ (2,722)

 

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (145,646) Andorra (148,887)
2 Montenegro (133,243) Montenegro (138,845)
3 Gibraltar (126,559) San Marino (128,186)
4 San Marino Gibraltar (126,766)
5 Slovenia Slovenia
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg
7 Israel Israel
8 Panama Aruba (81,901)
9 Aruba (78,396) Panama
10 Lithuania (76,197) St Barth (78,291)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (130,475) Czech Republic (137,042)
2 USA (90,509) USA (91,822)
3 Portugal (80,019) Portugal (80,345)
4 Sweden Sweden
5 Belgium Belgium
6 Spain Netherlands  (70,011
7 Netherlands (67,430) Spain (68,687)
8 UK (62,499) France (65,506)
9 France (62,282) UK (63,053)
10 Brazil (53,757) Brazil (56,159)
11 Italy (53,364) Italy (55,902)
12 Poland (50,417) Poland (54,435)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (2,166) Czech Republic (2,300)
2 Belgium (1,929) Belgium (1,948)
3 UK (1,842) UK (1,851)
4 Italy (1,691) Italy (1,738)
5 USA (1,646) USA (1,671)
6 Portugal (1,640) Portugal (1,648)
7 Spain (1,545) Spain (1,559)
8 Mexico (1,497) Mexico (1,523)
9 Peru (1,467) Peru (1,507)
10 France (1,383) France (1,412)

 

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Here’s an article about a new anti-viral drug – molnupiravir – that, the article suggests, might take over the $3+ billion market that currently is going to remdesivir.  It has the benefit of being able to be taken in pill form rather than requiring intravenous infusions.

It is probably no better than ivermectin, but with the backing of big pharma, more likely to be quickly approved.

Dr Fauci – these days usually spotted wearing not just one but two masks (as well as being vaccinated) – quite a change from a year ago when he was laughing and sneering at the concept of people even needing to wear one mask – had an argument with Senator Rand Paul about the value of masks.  In case you’re unclear or not keeping up with the good doctor, these days Dr Fauci is in favor of masks, and clearly believes two to be better than one.

But I wonder if the obscured real story of the exchange between the two doctors (Senator Paul is an ophthalmologist) is Dr Fauci’s statement about new virus variants and that perhaps vaccines don’t work well against them?

Another reminder that getting vaccinated is not the end of all concerns is this article, pointing to people who become infected after being vaccinated.

Vaccine News

Another interesting new vaccine being developed is an Israeli project that hopes to result in a vaccine that can simply be taken by mouth.

Not only does a vaccine one simply swallows cost much less to administer, it typically comes with fewer side effects, too.  But judging from their current state of development, it will be at least nine months before it becomes approved – always assuming it makes it through the trialing stages.

Details here.

Timings And Numbers

This chart clearly shows the uptick in cases in both Europe and South America, and the hint of a rise in Canada and Asia.

This is an interesting article, pointing out that in the US, some of the states with the highest vaccination rates are also experiencing rises in new Covid cases.  Perhaps too many people – vaccinated and unvaccinated – are relaxing their previous constraints.

Closings and Openings

The Canadian/US border is to remain closed another month, now until 21 April.  Certainly Canada’s caution can be understood – their case rate is about half that of the US rate.

Do you remember the 2020 Olympics, to have been held in Tokyo, were first delayed and then ultimately delayed until this year?  Now it has been decided that the Olympics will indeed proceed, with one slight tweak to proceedings.  No spectators!

The concept of “vaccine passports” continues to be talked up by many different sources, especially airlines who see them as a way to encourage people back to flying, and as a way to encourage countries to open their borders selectively to people who have been vaccinated.  While they’re not a perfect guarantee of safety, either for the vaccinated person or for the people they interact with, they do seem to be probably more helpful and with longer validity than test results, which, while better than nothing, are extremely limited in their value.

One surprising thing about vaccine passports that almost guarantees their value?  WHO is opposed to them.

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

Please click here for a listing of all our Covid-19 articles.

 

 

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