Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 6 May, 2021

First of all, a reminder.  Friday is the last day my book, “The Covid Survival Guide”, will be on sale at the special discounted price of $1.99 for the Amazon Kindle version.  It returns to $8.99 on Saturday.

The US passed through another “milestone” type number earlier this week, when it exceeded 33,264,321 reported cases.  What is the significance of that number?  It is exactly 10% of the country’s population, meaning that now slightly more than one in every ten people has officially been reported as having had a Covid infection.

The actual number of cases is thought to be at least 50% higher, due to people having the virus without any symptoms.

At the same time, we’ve now recorded 594,006 official deaths from the virus.  Or have we?  Astonishingly, that number is even more inexact than the count of infections, and this article suggests the actual number might be in excess of 950,000 (the article says 905k, but since the article was published there have been 33,000 more official deaths recorded, so that implies a current total around 950k).

It is interesting to note that the discrepancy between officially reported and estimated numbers is greater for the US than it is for most other western nations – how appalling that we can’t even accurately count our deaths.  On the other hand, keep in mind that some people claim we have been massively over-counting our Covid deaths, reporting all sorts of nothing-to-do-with-Covid deaths as Covid deaths (for example, dying from gunshots and traffic accidents).

However, don’t think that the preceding comments presage a mood of despair and continued failure.  In actual fact, the recent news has been generally very positive, as this article reports, and as the graph immediately below vividly shows.

As you can see, the seven day average of new cases reported is now at a lower number than any time since 7 October last year – almost exactly seven months ago.  Cases have been dropping every day in a row for just over three weeks now.

This of course is not a surprise to you if you’ve been tracking my daily chart postings on Twitter.  And now, finally, the CDC is admitting that too, and went as far as to project a “sharp decline” in Covid cases by July, without clearly defining what that means.  That’s a sort of vague projection that is impossible to be wrong, isn’t it.

What a turnaround for the CDC.  It is barely a month ago that their Director chose to cry on national television while warning of “impending doom“.  If this is doom, could I have another portion, please.

But the professional worriers are never short of things to worry about, with their worry now shifting to the unwillingness of more people to be vaccinated (exactly as has long been anticipated, but apparently now a surprise to the professional worriers).  It is certainly a massive turnaround – from previously worrying that we had too few doses of vaccine and wondering if we should only give people one dose rather than two to make it go further (always a crazy idea, as this article most recently confirms).

Current Numbers

No changes in US state rankings.

Estonia was pushed out of 10th place in the minor country list by its neighbor, Lithuania.  Interestingly, while both Lithuania and Estonia have around 94k cases/million people, the third of the Baltic states, Latvia, has only 65k/million.

Argentina displaced Italy at the bottom of the major country list, and Sweden is within a week or two of replacing the US in second position.

A couple of place swaps but no new entries in the death list.

As is becoming normal, there were many changes in the “most cases in the last week” list.  India is now at #26 on that list (it was 27th on Sunday), with a new case rate of 1,962, barely up on the 1,878 on Sunday.

US Best and Worst States

Rank Cases/Million Deaths/Million
A week ago Now A week ago Now
1 Best HI (22,765) HI (23,252) HI (341) HI (343)
2 VT VT VT VT
3 OR OR AK AK
4 ME ME ME ME
5 WA (53,050) WA (54,295) OR (591) OR (596)
47 TN (123,949) TN (124,769) MS (2,418) MS (2,428)
48 IA IA RI RI
49 SD SD MA MA
50 RI (139,610) RI (141,013) NY NY
51 Worst ND (140,800) ND (142,007) NJ (2,874) NJ (2,898)

 

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (170,590) Andorra (172,716)
2 Montenegro Montenegro
3 San Marino San Marino
4 Gibraltar (127,156) Gibraltar (127,249)
5 Slovenia Slovenia
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg
7 Bahrain Bahrain
8 Aruba Aruba
9 St Barth St Barth
10 Estonia (91,659) Lithuania (94,457)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (151,839) Czech Republic (153,007)
2 USA (99,349) USA (100,315)
3 Sweden (95,326) Sweden (98,707)
4 Netherlands Netherlands
5 France France
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Portugal Portugal
8 Spain Spain
9 Poland Poland
10 Jordan Brazil
11 Brazil Jordan
12 Italy (66,391) Argentina (67,966)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Rep (2,724) Czech Rep (2,752)
2 Belgium Belgium
3 Italy Italy
4 Brazil (1,877) Brazil
5 UK (1,870) Peru (1,895)
6 Peru (1,832) UK (1,871)
7 Poland (1,774) Poland (1,825)
8 USA  (1,771) USA  (1,786)
9 Portugal (1,669) Spain (1,683)
10 Spain (1,669) Portugal (1,670)

 

Top Rates in New Cases Reported in the Last Week (new cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Uruguay  5,696 Bahrain  5,108
2 Cyprus Uruguay  5,085
3 Bahrain Argentina
4 Argentina Lithuania
5 Croatia Netherlands
6 Turkey Costa Rica
7 Netherlands Sweden
8 Lithuania Croatia
9 Sweden Cyprus
10 France Slovenia
11 Costa Rica Mongolia
12 Mongolia  2,388 Georgia  2,231

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Here’s another study supporting propolis as a Covid treatment.  Propolis seems to be a “sleeper” of a treatment, and can be purchased without prescription as a “supplement” through Amazon or elsewhere.  I have both some throat spray when I feel the need to prepare for or react to a specific risk, plus capsules for taking “just in case” when I’m less concerned, but feeling it prudent to slightly increase my resistance.

It is nice to see a promising new drug for moderate-to-severe Covid infections progressing through clinical trials.  And here’s another drug also being developed.  Plus a third one, too.  The more the merrier.

The concept of Covid invading the brain has been raised before.  Here’s another article about this.  It really is an extraordinarily nasty virus, isn’t it.

Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

There’s been such a steady flow of pro-ivermectin articles that I decided we should have a separate section for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Here’s another peer-reviewed article that supports the use of ivermectin.  And another meta-analysis (ie “a study of studies”) that also supports IVM.

How much more proof can anyone possibly ask for?

Meantime, here’s yet another case where a court order has been needed to get a hospital to administer ivermectin to a seriously ill patient.  In a passive-aggressive move, the hospital, even with the court order, is refusing to hand over a pill to their patient themselves, and instead, is requiring a doctor to drive two hours each way (that’s how far the patient and her family had to look to find a willing doctor!) to then simply hand over a pill then go home again.

Words fail to express my dismay, frustration, and horror, at such situations.

And here’s a great article that places a lot of the anti-IVM prejudice fairly and squarely at the feet of Merck.

Here’s an article that is actually about medical censorship (of IVM news and discussion), headline notwithstanding.

And an article about hydroxychloroquine, too.  The anti-HCQ forces did such an excellent “hit job” on HCQ’s reputation that many doctors feel embarrassed to admit any interest in HCQ these days.  The pro-HCQ people were unprepared for the tsunami of undeserved hate and distortion/lies that responded to their first expressions of excited hope, a year ago, that they may have found a helpful drug to help treat patients, and now the HCQ-haters triumphantly refer to the “myth” of HCQ (plus of course an obligatory reference to former President Trump’s far-sighted support of the drug) with few people willing to now stand up and be heard in rebuttal.

It is true that we now know that IVM is more effective than HCQ, but HCQ is also beneficial.  Best of all, we don’t need to choose between them.  The best response of all is to use both.

Vaccine News

Novavax seems to be a new vaccine we’ll be hearing more about.  They’re already testing in younger teens and children, even before getting an emergency use approval for adults.

Maybe we’ll be able to have our vaccine boosters as a nasal spray rather than a shot.  Even better, maybe we’ll be able to have our vaccines as a pill rather than a pair of shots.

This is not just a major benefit to the needle-averse of us.  It also makes it enormously easier to distribute mass doses.  Instead of needing teams of trained people to oversee and administer injections, you just give people a pill and they can presumably then swallow it with no need for anything more than a sip of water.  It also saves on supplies – syringes, needles, vials, and all the other “stuff” (swabs and alcohol, etc) that go into giving injections.

A new type of Olympic sponsorship?  “The official vaccine of the Olympics“.  That seems to be what Pfizer is hoping for.

Vaccine safety testing and trials? Effectiveness? Who cares (in Russia….).

Timings And Numbers

This is a fascinating chart.  The insistence on complying with the second dose schedule, here in the US, is why we’ve such a large percentage of people fully vaccinated.  The countries with very low numbers of people fully vaccinated have either had a massive increase in vaccination rate recently or are not complying with the second dose schedule.  Hello, Canada, yes, that means you.

This article expresses surprise that the Seychelles have a high new case rate, even though they are one of the most vaccinated countries in the world.

But shame on the journalist for being surprised.  This outcome is totally to be expected.  The Seychelles has about 60% of its population vaccinated, but most of the vaccines have been with a Chinese vaccine that is thought to be about 50% effective – in other words, that is like having 30% of the population vaccinated with a fully effective vaccine.

With herd immunity kicking in somewhere around/above 70%, is it any surprise that an effective vaccination rate of 30% is still allowing for lots of new cases?  No surprise at all.

While we are ardent supporters of ivermectin, we try to remain open-minded, and in that spirit, we have to pour cold-water on the claims in this article.  Did Covid infection rates plummet after ivermectin started to be broadly used in Zimbabwe?  Umm, no.

As you can see from the chart, new case rates started to fall from 14 January.  But ivermectin was only approved for broad use on 27 January, and it would take some time for it to start being promulgated generally to people, and then another 5 – 10 days from then until it impacted on detected new cases.

Let’s say 5 February is when we’d expect to start to see the impact of ivermectin.  But by that time, new case rates had already dropped to levels similar to mid December and rather than an increasing rate of decrease, it was about to level out.

Ivermectin’s benefits are so strong it doesn’t need further exaggeration by poorly interpreted data such as this.

This article suggests the bad situation in India is actually very much worse than has been publicly revealed.  I guess we need to add India to the list of countries with unbelievable statistics.  That’s a list that already has China, Russia, probably Iran, possibly Egypt on it.

Closings and Openings

This is an interesting set of survey results showing how willing people are to resume various activities that have been curtailed due to the virus.

At least the people surveyed seem to be much more cautious than I’d have guessed.

Who Should Pay

One of the things I’ve regularly railed about is the high cost of PCR testing at airports.  The airlines have finally realized that it is actually in their interest to try and keep Covid testing costs down to a moderate level.  Especially in Europe, with low-priced international flights, and high-priced Covid tests, there’s a danger of the Covid test cost reaching or even exceeding the ticket price (before fees, of course!).

But rather than just complain, why don’t the airlines arrange PCR testing themselves at sensible prices? See : ‘Prohibitive’ PCR test costs will hinder airlines’ recovery, IATA says

Shortages

All sorts of unexpected shortages are appearing.  Tires Timber.  And, most surprising of all, people – the Governor of Montana has stopped paying a “Covid bonus” to unemployed people, because his state is struggling to fill its job vacancies at present.

Lastly, here’s an article that reads like an April Fools Day joke.  Who even knew bees had tongues….

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

 

 

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