Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 25 April, 2021

In very good news, after several days of falling new cases in the US, Sunday saw the lowest number of new cases reported since mid September (34,746).

A similar feat occurred in the UK with the lowest number since early September.  Let’s hope these are vaccine-inspired numbers and therefore may continue, not only at their current low levels, but might drop still further.

After an unnecessary ten day halt, the CDC and FDA announced on Friday they were lifting their suspension on using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although they are now having a safety warning added to the vaccine.

That was a sad waste of ten days, and of course, although Dr Fauci thought suspending the vaccine would make feel people more confident of taking it, opinion polling now suggests only about half the country would be willing to “risk” taking the J&J vaccine.

It remains my preferred vaccine, indeed, to prove the point I even asked at a Walmart this afternoon if they could give me a shot.  Frustratingly, although their store shows, online, as having the vaccine in stock, they said they don’t have any, haven’t had any for a long time, and don’t know when/if they’ll get more.  They offered the Moderna instead, which I declined.

An interesting new study was released this week, suggesting that your risk of being infected by the virus is almost identical if you are 60 ft away from someone else as if you are 6 ft away.  How can that be so?

The answer appears to be due to a slow but clear realization that possibly the most likely way of becoming infected is actually the way that, for the longest time, the authorities told us was not possible and not happening.  Initially, we were told the biggest risk was from touching an exposed surface then sticking our hands in our mouths.  The risk of someone nearby coughing at us, and expelling tiny moisture droplets infected with the virus was a low risk, and the risk of aerosolized particles, being expelled by people just as part of ordinary breathing and talking, was said to be close to if not totally at a zero risk point.

Now, over a year later, it appears the authorities got that all dead wrong (and, yes, the word “dead” is sadly appropriate).  The lowest risk by far is through touching infected surfaces.  Droplet transmission remains a factor, but the highest risk is via aerosolized particles.

The relevant property of aerosolized particles is they hang, suspended, floating in the air, for minutes, maybe even for hours.  Air currents can waft aerosol particles from someone on the other side of the room to where you are.

Droplets quickly fall to the ground, and that is where the six foot rule basically came from, but aerosolized particles can travel on air currents.  Hence the study’s findings that the risk of infection is the same at 60 ft as at 6 ft.  Sadly, the study doesn’t seem to have also looked at the risk at 3 ft or 1 ft; and perhaps it is telling us “the low risk at 6 ft is still low at 60 ft” rather than “the high risk at 6 ft is still high at 60 ft”.

The key preventative measure, as well as masks, is air changes – either by simply bringing fresh air in and displacing the stale air out, or by recirculating the air through HEPA filters to get rid of the aerosolized particles.

What planet or alternate dimension does the FDA inhabit?  They have described ivermectin as “can be very dangerous”.  This is a drug that has been safely used billions of times, over 33 years, the discovery of which won its discoverer the Nobel Prize, and which features on the WHO list of essential medicines.

Here’s an excellent and must-read article that puts the FDA statement into the scurrilous context it deserves to be.

Current Numbers

As mentioned on Thursday, South Dakota and Rhode Island swapped places in the US case list.

In the minor country case list, Gibraltar bizarrely shows a lower cumulative total than it did last week.  This is due to their correcting some numbers last week.

Portugal drops two places in the major country case list, and as also reported on Thursday, the UK has dropped off the list.

The US drops two places on the death list, and Poland rises two.

As I said on Thursday, I am now limiting the countries in our “New Cases Reported Last Week” table to those countries with more than one million population, which has caused even more changes than normal to that (hopefully!) interesting list.  I’ve italicised the countries now removed due to their small population.

It is again worthy of note that India, while generating much newspaper coverage for suffering a Covid crisis of apparently apocalyptical proportions, is way down at 51st place on the list.  Fifty other countries have up to five times worse rates of new cases, but aren’t getting a bit of newspaper coverage.  To put India’s situation into clearer perspective, their case rate is around the same as in Canada.

 

US Best and Worst States

Rank Cases/Million Deaths/Million
A week ago Now A week ago Now
1 Best HI (22,164) HI (22,547) HI (335) HI (338)
2 VT VT VT VT
3 OR OR AK AK
4 ME ME ME ME
5 WA (50,914) WA (52,178) OR (583) OR (589)
47 UT (122,508) UT (123,343) MS (2,403) MS (2,411)
48 IA IA RI RI
49 RI SD MA MA
50 SD RI NY NY
51 Worst ND (138,773) ND (139,999) NJ (2,831) NJ (2,857)

 

Top Case Rates Minor (population under 10 million) Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (165,516) Andorra (168,808)
2 Montenegro (152,120) Montenegro (153,885)
3 San Marino San Marino
4 Gibraltar (127,394) Gibraltar (127,156)
5 Slovenia Slovenia
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg
7 Aruba Aruba
8 St Barth Bahrain
9 Bahrain (93,878) St Barth
10 Israel (91,007) Israel (91,113)

 

Top Case Rates Major (population over 10 million) Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (149,362) Czech Republic (150,989)
2 USA (97,443) USA (98,695)
3 Sweden (88,689) Sweden (92,442)
4 Netherlands Netherlands
5 Portugal France
6 Belgium Belgium
7 France Portugal
8 Spain Spain
9 Poland Poland
10 Jordan Jordan
11 Brazil (65,227) Brazil
12 UK (64,366) Italy (65,619)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (2,650) Czech Republic (2,650)
2 Belgium (2,039) Belgium (2,039)
3 Italy (1,936) Italy (1,936)
4 UK (1,867) UK (1,867)
5 USA (1,747) Brazil (1,747)
6 Brazil (1,747) Peru (1,747)
7 Peru (1,717) USA (1,717)
8 Portugal (1,666) Poland (1,666)
9 Spain (1,646) Portugal (1,646)
10 Poland (1,640) Spain (1,640)

 

Top Rates in New Cases Reported in the Last Week (new cases per million) for Countries over one million population

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Uruguay  5,771 Uruguay  5,776
2 Bermuda  5,637 Cyprus  5,014
3 Seychelles 4,978 Turkey
4 Turkey  4,931 Bahrain
5 Bahrain  4,375 Argentina
6 Cyprus  3,915 Croatia
7 Croatia  3,739 Netherlands
8 Argentina  3,546 France
9 France  3,530 Lithuania
10 Andorra  3,361 Mongolia
11 Curacao  3,201 Sweden  2,389
12 Hungary  3,147 Colombia  2,368

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Further to my comments above about the danger of aerosol spread and the solution being fresh air, here’s a great idea that definitely could be helpful.

Here’s another nasal (and also throat) spray that seems to be demonstrating positive results for protecting against infection.  We remain unsure as to the reality of the benefits from any spray, but if it might work, why not try it.

Another thing that we remain unconvinced about is favipiravir – a possible anti-viral drug that in some testing has shown great results, and in other testing has been very disappointing.  Here’s another new trial of it commencing now, and unlike ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, it has big pharma backing it so maybe we’ll continue to see more about this.

Two more articles about the bizarre and unscientific bias against low-cost drugs – one  two.

Here’s an article that tells a bit more about the extraordinary flight that I mentioned a week ago.  There were 146 passengers and 7 infants flying from New Delhi to Hong Kong on a plane that was 85% full.  All passengers showed negative Covid tests (that had been done within the 72 hours prior to departure) when boarding, and mask wearing was strictly observed on the flight.

Upon deplaning in HKG, all passengers were retested for Covid, and four tested positive.  All passengers were quarantined, and within the next two weeks, 48 more passengers tested positive for the virus – in total (so far!) one third of everyone on the flight has now tested positive for the virus.

But where/how the infection spread remains a total mystery.

Vaccine News

Some snippets from articles about the re-approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, said in a statement that the pause was lifted based on “the FDA and CDC’s review of all available data and in consultation with medical experts and based on recommendations from the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.” She further explained: “We have concluded that the known and potential benefits of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older. We are confident that this vaccine continues to meet our standards for safety, effectiveness and quality.”

During the ACIP meeting, according to Live Science, CDC scientist Sara Oliver, MD, presented modeling research that showed that continuing to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for everyone ages 18 and older may cause 26 to 45 cases of blood clots, but would prevent 600 to 1,400 deaths and 800 to 3,500 ICU admissions.

At the CDC’s ACIP meeting, it was revealed that of the total 15 women who experienced blood clots, three died, seven remain hospitalized (four of whom are in the ICU), and five were discharged home.

“Symptom onset appears to occur at least several days after vaccination, typically around one to two weeks after vaccination,” Shimabukuro explained, according to CNN. “The clinical features of TTS following the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine appear similar to what is being observed following the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Europe. It is important to recognize TTS early and initiate appropriate treatment.”

Women who had TTS experienced severe headache with neck pain, speech difficulty, loss of consciousness, unilateral weakness, and seizure.

A “universal” coronavirus vaccine that protects against all strains and costs only $1/dose?  Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it!  We’re also still a bit anxious about these new DNA/RNA approaches to vaccines, but if the benefit is real, maybe it is time for me to stop worrying?

Timings And Numbers

As you can see, we continue to beat most of the rest of the world in terms of the percentage of our population who have now been fully vaccinated.

Here is a great interactive map to show how well each US state is doing with vaccinations.

Closings and Openings

I wouldn’t altogether bet on this, leastways, not in the next month or so.  According to this article, the EU plans to allow US tourists to visit this summer, if they’ve been vaccinated.  That would be great news if it is correct, but even if it is correct, and does happen, what would await us upon arriving in the EU.  Germany is in a new lockdown at present, and other countries are also experiencing growing numbers of new cases and adding new restrictions.  A lockdown in a European country can be very different and much more impactful than a “lockdown” in the US.

I guess we’ll see, soon enough.  Europe generally considers summer to be June, July, and August (the US defines it a bit later, as from summer solstice, 20 June, to the autumnal equinox on 22 September).  It would be great if we could go to Europe this summer, and if we could enjoy a safe and positive experience upon getting there, but for now, I’m playing it cautious.  I still hope we can get to Britain in August, but Europe much before that is anyone’s guess.

Japan’s rising Covid numbers are very small compared to other countries, but they are taking strong early action to stop a recent rise.  This is of course an excellent concept – it is true, when controlling an outbreak, “a stitch in time saves nine”.  Japan’s big worry, of course, is avoiding any impact on their hosting the Olympics in late July.

Here’s a study that uncovered an utterly unsurprising fact – people kept traveling, even if/when they felt unwell.

Logic?  What Logic?

UK’s handling of Covid over the last three months has been spectacularly successful. Surely no-one should be complaining, all should be rejoicing. But…. Thousands of people marched through London this weekend in angry protests over the current Covid control measures.

These are almost certainly the same people who six months earlier were vaguely demanding “something must be done”.  Something has been done, and it has worked.

We cringe every time we see our President hiding behind a mask.  His virtue signaling is so transparent and annoying, because it is so unnecessary.

The most recent example was his participation in a “virtual climate summit” that he apparently convened with other attention-seeking virtue-signaling world leaders. The participants had a Zoom meeting.  All but one of the world leaders understood that you can’t catch the virus from someone else through a Zoom meeting, and so were not wearing masks.

Poor old Joe though (who, let’s not forget, was vaccinated back in December) wore his mask, “just in case”.

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

 

 

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