Covid-19 Diary : Sunday 25 July, 2021

An extraordinary thing happened in England this week.  On Monday 19th, England removed the last of its remaining “lockdown” measures, a move widely criticized as surely leading to a massive increase in new virus cases, and a move that was all the more inexplicable due to the soaring number of new Covid cases, every day, that had been happening steadily for the two months previous to then.

Usually it takes 3 – 5 days for Covid symptoms to appear after getting infected, sometimes a bit longer.  Allow an extra day or two for people to get tested, and their results recorded, and it seemed to me that by Friday, we might be starting to see further life in UK cases, and certainly by today (Sunday).

But, an extraordinary thing happened.  The rate of new cases first faltered and reduced on Monday/Tuesday, stalled on Wednesday, started falling on Thursday and Friday, then plunging dramatically on Saturday and Sunday.  This was the absolute utter total opposite of what everyone had been predicting and grimly bracing for.

This is the most dramatic sudden change from steeply rising to steeply falling cases that has ever happened in the UK.

What caused it?  Theories abound, but none stand up to careful analysis.  It is true that both the Euro soccer tournament and Wimbledon tennis tournament ended on 11 July, but the thing is that prior to both these events, cases were strongly rising, so after the events, there is no reason to expect a sudden plunge.  It is true that people continue to be vaccinated, but, just like in the US, at a much slower rate than before so this wouldn’t suddenly change things.  It is also true people continue to get infected and recover, adding to “herd immunity”, but that is at a rate much lower than the vaccination rate, so that wouldn’t cause a sudden change in case rates either.

What makes this all the more inexplicable is that the same thing has happened before, both in Britain, and in other countries, too.

As you can see, Britain had an earlier peak and plunge in January, the Netherlands is currently copying what is happening in Britain with an even sharper rise and fall, and look at what happened in Belgium in late October.

As I’ve often said before, we desperately urgently need to know the answers to two vital questions :

(a)  What triggers these extraordinary rises?

(b)  What causes them to equally suddenly and dramatically collapse again?

If we knew what causes case numbers to suddenly shoot skywards, we could do whatever is needed to stop that in the future, and if we knew what causes case numbers to suddenly reverse direction and plunge downwards again, we could introduce those measures sooner when encountering a rise in cases.

Here’s an extraordinary article that you really should read.  It is titled “Is the pharmaceutical industry like the Mafia”, and gives alarming examples of how, to be blunt, the pharmaceutical industry can not be trusted to self-regulate, and how we should cautiously evaluate any claims they ever make about anything (including Covid vaccines).

The extraordinary element of it is the date it was written – September, 2013.  Sadly, the concerns and issues are as topical (and unchanged) now as they were eight years ago.

Talking about extraordinary things, there was a revelation of surprisingly mixed messaging emerging from the White House.  They are not requiring their staff to be vaccinated.  Sure, they’re telling us we need to get vaccinated, and eagerly supporting governors that seek to send people door to door, syringe in hand, to gently compel people to be vaccinated.  But for themselves and their employees?  It is optional.  “Do as we say, not as we do”.

Here is a point which needs to be stressed.  If you’re planning on traveling internationally, remember that you are creating both some known risks and an often overlooked risk.  The known risks are that you might come down with the virus prior to travelling and not be able to go, that the country you want to visit might close its borders, or might introduce restrictions making a visit there unenjoyable, and so on.

The overlooked risk also needs to be considered.  You might test positive prior to flying back to the US (and remember, even vaccinated people can still get a mild case of Covid and test positive), and end up required to self-isolate (or, even worse, formally quarantine in a special quarantine facility) for up to two weeks in the foreign country you’d been visiting, and at potentially great cost for the extra stay, to say nothing of the disruptive effects of not being able to return home when you expected to.

I’m not saying don’t travel internationally; but I am saying you need to keep all the risks and possibilities in mind when deciding what you might do.

Current Numbers

In the minor country list, the swap between Gibraltar that first appeared in Thursday’s Covid diary entry is mirrored in the Sunday-Sunday data too.  This is a reminder of how real it is that vaccinated people can still get infected, and as you’ll see in the additional material below, Israel has a very disappointing analysis of the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine against the Delta variant.

In the major country list, the US drops an amazing two places, even though our case numbers are rapidly rising.  Perhaps it is better to describe this not as a drop for the US, but as a rise for Argentina and the Netherlands.

Appearing back on the major country list for the first time in quite a few months is the UK.

There were no changes in the death rate list.  But of course, there were plenty of changes in the activity last week list.

The UK, after its plunging numbers in the latter part of the week, ended up with a 15% drop in case numbers compared to the previous week.  With very few results over the weekend reported in the US, I’m forced to estimate a 55% rise in cases over the last week.

Europe as a whole reported a 3% drop, a big swing from the increases in the last few weeks.  The biggest drops were in the Netherlands (-36%), Spain (-23%) and the UK (-15%).  Not all countries were dropping; France had a 129% rise in cases, Italy 85%, Switzerland 55%, Ireland 31% and Germany 27%.

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

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (184,420) Andorra (187,320)
2 Seychelles (174,111) Seychelles (179,273)
3 Montenegro Montenegro
4 Bahrain Bahrain
5 San Marino San Marino
6 Maldives Gibraltar (142,488)
7 Gibraltar  (136,431) Maldives
8 Slovenia Slovenia
9 Luxembourg Luxembourg
10 Uruguay (108,675) Uruguay (109,114)

 

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

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (155,738) Czech Republic (155,861)
2 Sweden Sweden
3 USA (104,987) Netherlands (107,336)
4 Netherlands (104,723) Argentina (106,200)
5 Argentina  (104,241) USA  (105,683)
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Portugal Portugal
8 Brazil Brazil
9 Colombia (90,177) Colombia
10 France France
11 Spain Spain
12 Chile (82,949) UK (83,467)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Peru  (5,834) Peru  (5,855)
2 Czech Republic (2,827) Czech Republic (2,829)
3 Brazil Brazil
4 Colombia (2,261) Colombia
5 Argentina Argentina
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Italy Italy
8 Poland (1,990) Poland (1,990)
9 UK (1,886) UK (1,892)
10 USA (1,876) USA (1,882)

 

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 Cyprus  5,692 Cyprus  5,360
2 UK  4,595 Botswana  4,798
3 Botswana Cuba
4 Netherlands UK  3,881
5 Tunisia  4,069 Georgia
6 Cuba Spain
7 Spain Malaysia
8 Mongolia Mongolia
9 Georgia  2,594 Netherlands  2,617
10 Namibia Portugal
11 Libya Kazakhstan
12 Colombia  2,478 Argentina  1,977

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Like most people, when the virus first exploded into view, I looked around for anyone, anywhere, who could provide reliable and sensible commentary and insight into what was happening, and guidance for how we should individually respond.

Again, like most people, I thought that Dr Tony Fauci was a safe choice of sensible expert, but that was an assumption that has been increasingly challenged over the last 15 months.  Here’s an article from a source that not everyone will necessarily like, but, please, I urge you not to shoot the messenger, but rather, consider the message.  The article starts of weakly, but then extensively links to the Washington Post and Wall St Journal, the article merely “joins the dots”.

Still talking about Dr F, and if, like some on Twitter, you refuse to even read WaPo and WSJ articles if they are cited in other outlets you ideologically disagree with, here’s a BBC item that takes a gentle look at whether it is possible that Dr F is lying about funding gain of function research.

Their conclusion seems to be diffidently and carefully stated, but to fall more on the “yes he might be” side of the coin, especially after noting that he may be trying to hide behind arcane definitions to avoid considering the research in China that he did support as being gain of function research, even if ordinary people and ordinary definitions would believe it to be so.

Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

Here’s an article about the race by big pharma to develop a simple pill to treat Covid cases with.  If ever you needed an explanation about why big pharma has been doing all it can to squash ivermectin and assorted other low cost treatments, this is what you’ve been waiting for.

They don’t want to see people taking the existing simple pill to treat Covid cases with, aka IVM.  They want to create new pills that will cost hundreds of times more than the very low cost ivermectin.

Vaccine News

So how effective is the Pfizer vaccine when it comes to preventing you from getting the Delta variant of Covid?  I’ve seen numbers ranging as high as 88%, but here’s an Israeli study that suggests a much lower number – 39%.

Timings And Numbers

Here’s another look at what variants are appearing in which countries.  Of note is the broad penetration by the Delta variant, and just the mildest of hints about the new Lambda variant starting to appear in a few countries.  Lambda possibly might be even worse than the Delta variant.

As I mentioned above and have mentioned before, it is becoming more difficult to know what is happening with new case numbers in the US, because states are cutting back on the data they report on new cases, and how often they report it.

At present, late in the evening of Sunday, only 14 states had reported any data at all for Sunday’s case numbers, and at least three of those cases were only reporting partial data from some counties.  A couple of months ago, we’d have received almost all data from all states by now.

This article talks about this some more.

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

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