Covid-19 Diary : Easter Sunday 4 April, 2021

 

Aaagh.  My computer crashed just as I was about to send out today’s diary entry, and the Microsoft Expression Web software I use does not auto-back up my work.  Of course, Murphy’s Law dictates the inevitability that it was hours since I’d last remembered to manually backup.

No, I’m not redoing everything.  It is a Sunday – and Easter Sunday at that.  I’ll quickly hit the highlights, though.

After worrying about the steadily growing numbers of new cases in the US, the last few days have all shown drops.

Not only are numbers down for the US as a whole, but Texas continues to confound conventional wisdom with its plunging numbers, even after an almost total relaxation on mask wearing and social distancing.

Ostensibly, any reduction in daily new case numbers is very good, of course, but there is a slight concern in my mind that we’re simply seeing more public health authorities closed for the Easter weekend and not reporting new cases.

Part of the reason for thinking this is noting the last time numbers were as low as they are today was a brief drop over the Labor Day weekend last early September.

Meanwhile, the CDC continues to refine its understanding and guidance as to what are safe practices for vaccinated people.  In good news, this last week they said it is now acceptable for vaccinated people to skip testing prior to travel and won’t need to be quarantined upon arrival.

Let’s hope the UK does the same, as that is one of the three key elements of making it appropriate to travel there once more.

This article comments on another state that seems to be winning its battle against Covid – California.

But their headline phrase “as cases plunge” seems to be more historic than present – the last few weeks have seen a much flatter line on the chart and the last week or so even hints at a mild return to increasing rates once more.

Like many states, California is trying to be “clever” in terms of what can open, and how much.  That’s to be admired, but the net result seems to be, like so often is the case, confusion and inconsistency.

Current Numbers

A few changes this week, with UT and IA swapping places yet again in the US case rates.  Estonia is now in the minor country list, and Jordan in the major country list.

The UK dropped a place in the case rate list, and had an astonishingly low death rate for the previous week, and might drop a place in that table during the week ahead, too.

US Best and Worst States

Rank Cases/Million Deaths/Million
A week ago Now A week ago Now
1 Best HI (20,770) HI (21,284) HI (326) HI (330)
2 VT VT VT VT
3 ME ME AK AK
4 OR OR ME (548) ME (554)
5 WA (47,796) WA (48,682) OR (563) OR (567)
47 IA (119,781) UT (120,819) MS (2,352) MS (2,371)
48 UT (119,952) IA (121,028) RI (2,462) RI (2,483)
49 RI RI MA (2,483) MA (2,507)
50 SD SD NY (2,587) NY (2,617)
51 Worst ND (134,612) ND (135,997) NJ (2,746) NJ (2,774)

 

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (153,188) Andorra (158,107)
2 Montenegro (143,416) Montenegro (147,294)
3 San Marino (136,093) San Marino (140,503)
4 Gibraltar (126,855) Gibraltar (126,919)
5 Slovenia Slovenia
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg
7 Israel Israel
8 Aruba Aruba
9 Bahrain Bahrain
10 Panama (81,068) Estonia (82,428)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (141,281) Czech Republic (144,712)
2 USA (93,167) USA (94,505)
3 Portugal (80,632) Portugal (80,925)
4 Sweden Sweden
5 Belgium Belgium
6 Netherlands Netherlands (75,867)
7 Spain (69,806) France (73,757)
8 France (65,525) Spain (70,581)
9 UK (63,581) Poland (64,486)
10 Poland (59,525) UK (63,962)
11 Brazil (58,662) Jordan (61,568)
12 Italy (58,481) Brazil (60,761)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (2,423) Czech Republic (2,513)
2 Belgium (1,967) Belgium (1,989)
3 UK (1,858) UK (1,861)
4 Italy (1,787) Italy (1,838)
5 USA (1,692) USA (1,711)
6 Portugal (1,655) Portugal (1,659)
7 Spain (1,607) Spain (1,619)
8 Mexico (1,550) Peru (1,587)
9 Peru (1,545) Mexico (1,571)
10 Brazil (1,462) Brazil (1,551)

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Here’s an interesting article that explains why traditional syringe-delivered injected vaccines aren’t the best approach.  The article appears to be paywalled, so here’s a summary from its author :

 There are lots of reasons why nasal sprays are a better form of vaccine delivery.

I wasn’t particularly interested when I saw that some companies are making inhaled vaccines esp. when there are now 13 different jabs in circulation. But when I looked into shots’ shortcomings, I realized there are some serious gains to be had.

Upper-arm shots aren’t the *best* vaccine delivery method. Sure, they work well.  They’re also a tried-and-true method of delivering vaccines, which is why drug companies went that route when making vaccines as fast as possible (while upholding safety standards).

The thing is that injected doses require a syringe and a medical professional to deliver. Syringes are a hot commodity—and if you don’t use them correctly, you may not get as many doses from the vial.

That also means that people have to go somewhere and get to a vaccine appointment—which can be difficult for people who are home bound and/or live in health care deserts.

Inhaled vaccines are a relatively new tech (~2000s), so there aren’t many. FluMist, made by AstraZeneca, is one of the biggest names. It uses a weakened flu virus, which means it may not be suitable for everyone.  Now, though, scientists are working on all kinds of new inhaled platforms for Covid vaccines, which could be suitable for even those with weaker immune systems. This opens a huge door for vaccine delivery: What if you didn’t need a health care provider with special training?

“Think about a vaccine you could mail out to people,” Renata Pasqualini, an oncologist and CSO at Phage Novo Bio, a company working on an inhaled Covid vaccine, told me. Used like an inhaler, you could easily deliver new vaccines and/or boosters.

There’s so much we can learn from the pandemic; we have a chance to bring on better vaccines that are easier to admin and get to people, which is great for a new normal, and even better for future health care.

Here’s yet another promising new drug that is being trialed by NIAID, and which appears to be better than the much over-hypedremdesivir.

But this begs the question – why is NIAID trialing a new expensive drug full of unknowns, while overlooking well known inexpensive drugs that are well known and well proven such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin?

Here is a nicely presented table of data on the most significant and impactful new virus strains, and here is a more extensive but not quite as easily viewed list.

Here’s an interesting story of how the EU tried to bully the Czech Republic into gratefully accepting fewer vaccine doses than it was entitled to, so that “more needy” nations could get more than their proportionate shares.

There’s one interesting thing though.  The Czech Republic leads the world in both virus case rates and death rates.  What country could be more needy?  Why is the EU picking its favorites and why is it not including the Czech Republic on the “preferred” list.

The Czech Rep refused to pretend to be happy at getting fewer doses than it was entitled to, and so the EU retaliated by giving it none in the current distribution of doses.  Kinda makes you glad you’re not in the EU, doesn’t it……

Vaccine News

A late April Fool’s Day Joke?

The DHHS has now stepped in at the contract vaccine maker that ruined 15 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine last week.  It has appointed J&J to directly make the vaccines at the facility, and has also said the facility can’t simultaneously make vaccine for AstraZeneca.

Apparently the problem with the ruined 15 million doses was that the plant mixed some of the AZ ingredients into the J&J vaccine.  Knowing what they did doesn’t make their incompetence any easier to accept!

Timings And Numbers

The UK continues to lead the world in vaccinations, but the US is starting to close the gap.

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

 

 

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