Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 15 July, 2021

 

This week saw what I believe may be an official first in people’s interactions with Covid.  One unfortunate sufferer was infected with two different Covid variants, simultaneously.  She died, although it is not known whether this was because of the double dose being more dangerous, or “just because”.

Dismayingly, it is also not known if this is a common or uncommon occurrence, because not many countries check the “sequence” of the virus in every infected person.  It is only as a result of the sequencing that it was discovered the lady had two different variants at the same time.

We’re starting to see some pushback against the campaign by “big pharma” to sell vaccine booster shots.  Big pharma is trying to conflate the scenario of annual ‘flu shots with an implied matching need for annual Covid shots, but that’s not a fair comparison.  We get annual ‘flu shots because each year’s ‘flu virus is different to the previous year’s ‘flu virus, and the previous year’s vaccine doesn’t protect against it.

So far, there’s no clear evidence of any of the significant Covid variants needing a new vaccine, and as far as I’m aware, the “booster” shots being promoted seem to be “more of the same” rather than a new formulation to protect against new variants.  Needless to say, a new vaccine formulation would hopefully be given a new evaluation, trial, testing, and review prior to being approved.

This seems to be nothing other than the drug companies trying to push more of their expensive products into the market, whether needed or not, riding on the coat-tails of the fear of the virus which is present in some parts of our communities.

This article quotes the Deputy Director of the CDC as being concerned that booster shots could risk more serious side effects.

Even Dr Fauci and WHO have jumped on this bandwagon, leaving big pharma unusually unsupported on this issue.

Meanwhile, of course, the most beneficial event for us all, vaccinated or not, is to grow the number of people being vaccinated.  Even if we are already vaccinated, we benefit from more people being vaccinated, because it helps slow the virus spread, cuts down on the number of variants, and remembering that we still have a residual chance of getting infected, even after being vaccinated, it reduces our risk profiles as well as those of the newly vaccinated.

So the White House is now trying a new approach to get more people vaccinated.  It has co-opted one of the bazillion attractive young women who are “social influencers” and persuaded the girl to stop touting handbags and other junk, and instead, advocate for getting vaccinated.  I guess it can’t hurt, and might help.

The Surgeon General has a less permissive approach in mind.  He is calling on social media platforms to be more aggressive at censoring Covid “misinformation”.

That request alarms me greatly.  The problem is both he and social media confuse what is misinformation with what is scholarly disagreement and general debate.  If he had his way, we’d still believe the virus came from a bat or pangolin, naturally, or perhaps not even from China at all.  If he had his way, no-one would know about ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine, quercetin, or any of the many other effective, safe, and inexpensive treatments.  If he had his way, no-one would be able to share any information about or criticize any of the official disgraceful errors, or to pressure the public health authorities to review and revise their errors.

Covid is too important, and – with appropriate respect – our authorities way too amateurish and incompetent – to censor dissent, forbid criticism, and only allow official pronouncements.

But some things are clearly wrong, such as this homeopathic “doctor” who was arrested for selling fake homeopathic vaccines and matching fake vaccination certificates.

Current Numbers

Again, no change in the minor countries list, and just one change in the major country list (Portugal rising two places).  This is somewhat surprising with the increased case activity, but part of the reason might be the widely spaced out nature of the countries at present.  As you can see, the country at the top of each list has almost twice the level of activity as the country at the bottom of the top ten or twelve list.

Belgium dropped two places in the death list.

The always interesting look at case rates for the last week saw increases in numbers for most of the countries in the top twelve list.  The UK’s problems continue, and it has now moved up to fifth place, although up and coming Netherlands seems a sure bet to displace it by Sunday’s next report, and Spain will move closer as well.

The UK had a 33% increase in cases, week on week.  But, as terrible as that is, it is better than the European average – across the entirety of Europe, there was a 39% increase in cases.  The Netherlands saw a stunning 299% increase, Austria and Iceland both more than doubled, and only Poland, Sweden, Norway and Latvia saw modest drops in cases (among the western European nations).

The US had a massive 69% increase in cases for the week, and the world as a whole had a substantial 16% increase.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (181,546) Andorra (183,983)
2 Seychelles (168,533) Seychelles (171,806)
3 Montenegro (159,857) Montenegro (160,101)
4 Bahrain Bahrain
5 San Marino San Marino
6 Maldives Maldives
7 Gibraltar (130,400) Gibraltar (134,141)
8 Slovenia Slovenia
9 Luxembourg Luxembourg
10 Uruguay (107,659) Uruguay (108,439)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (155,521) Czech Republic (155,677)
2 Sweden (107,476) Sweden (107,622)
3 USA (104,142) USA (104,762)
4 Argentina Argentina
5 Netherlands Netherlands
6 Belgium Belgium
7 France (88,644) Portugal (90,519)
8 Brazil (88,572) Brazil (89,959)
9 Portugal (88,457) France (89,163)
10 Colombia (86,521) Colombia (89,095)
11 Spain Spain
12 Chile (81,916) Chile (82,676)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Peru  (5,794) Peru  (5,826)
2 Czech Rep  (2,827) Czech Rep  (2,827)
3 Brazil Brazil
4 Belgium Colombia (2,232)
5 Colombia (2,161) Argentina (2,207)
6 Argentina (2,146) Belgium
7 Italy Italy
8 Poland Poland
9 UK (1,880) UK (1,884)
10 USA (1,869) USA (1,874)

 

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  4,315 Cyprus  5,652
2 Mongolia  4,202 Botswana  4,476
3 Tunisia Tunisia
4 Namibia Cuba
5 Colombia UK  3,798
6 Kuwait Netherlands
7 UK  2,861 Mongolia
8 Argentina Spain
9 South Africa Namibia
10 Cuba Colombia
11 Oman Kuwait
12 Spain  2,010 Argentina  2,344

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

One of the still under-appreciated aspects of getting infected by Covid is the possibility of becoming a “long haul” sufferer.  It is estimated that between one in seven and one in three people who get the virus end up with long-lasting problems after their “official” illness is over – as many as nine in ten of these people are still suffering from various problems eight months after their infection (and the illness is too new to yet allow further analysis beyond that point).

This article reports on 203 different problems suffered by such people.  There’s not much more that can be said, other than to stress the essential importance of not getting Covid, and, if you do, of urgently treating it with ivermectin, quercetin, zinc, and anything/everything else.  You don’t want to become a long-haul sufferer.

What an incredibly awful virus this is.

Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

Here’s a great new analysis of the benefits and outcomes from taking ivermectin to treat/cure a Covid infection.

How many more such analyses will be needed before the medical establishment grudgingly admits that, yes, ivermectin does work, brilliantly, and better than new drugs costing thousands of dollars more per treatment?

And here’s a simple analysis, open to challenge, but nonetheless persuasive, showing the difference in outcomes in two Indian states – one that used ivermectin to treat Covid, and one that didn’t.  Sure, there could be other “confounding” factors, but the difference in outcomes is so enormous that it needs to be studied and understood, whether it be ivermectin or something else, so everyone, everywhere, can benefit from whatever the underlying factor is.

Vaccine News

I wrote, above, about the unsupported concept of adding booster shots.  There’s another unsupported concept that has seen too much exposure – the idea of “mixing and matching” different shots of different vaccines.  Originally this came up when there were shortages of vaccines, and people were desperate to take anything that could be found, without pausing to think about what it was.

But the concept remains – either mixing and matching the two shots, or (and here we go again) adding a third shot of a different vaccine “just to be on the safe side”.  There is no persuasive science or serious study to support this, whatsoever, and as much conceptual reason to see problems as to see benefits from adopting such an approach.

Even WHO agrees with me.

Some good news – another vaccine is progressing to the point of almost being ready to seek approval.  This time, the vaccine – “Coronavac” is a classic “inactivated virus” type vaccine, the same as vaccines have historically been, and so it would seem to have the least amount of uncertainty and risk associated with it, and perhaps be most appealing to vaccine-skeptics.

Not only is it very much less likely to have unexpected negative side-effects, but it is also showing to be very effective.  If I were to revisit my own vaccine choice, it would now be my vaccine of choice.

Details here.

There was slightly alarming news for people, like me, who have had the J&J vaccine.  A very small number of people (about 8 per million people vaccinated) and mainly elderly men, have developed a rare but terrible autoimmune disorder.  Fortunately, it tends to happen about two weeks after being vaccinated, so I think I’m safely past the point of risk.

As I said above, the Coronavac vaccine is now becoming my new favorite – or will so become, once it has been approved.

I can understand states that mandate vaccinations.  I can understand states that take no official position on the issue at all.  But for the life of me, I totally can not understand states that prohibit businesses from requiring vaccinations of their customers.

Quite apart from the specific idiocy of it in the Covid context, it seems like an egregious interference with how a business chooses to operate.  Plus, it mandates that businesses and their other customers have to accept a higher degree of risk and possible interference with the business service being provided.   It is as inexplicable as a state that bans driving with seatbelts.

This is nowhere more true than with cruises.  A single passenger, on a many thousands of passenger cruise, can destroy the cruise for everyone, as we’ve seen in the earlier stages of the outbreak, and again more recently with the attempts to restart cruising again.  Most passengers see it as a huge plus – even as an essential – that all their fellow passengers be vaccinated.

So how to understand Florida’s demand that cruise lines ignore the vaccination status of its passengers?  Let’s just say we’re very supportive of Norwegian Cruise Line, now forced to bring a legal action to try and end FL’s ban on their “must be vaccinated” policy.

Timings And Numbers

The last three days has seen the US posting such astonishing week on week growth rates that the numbers have been “off the scale” (I set the scale with a maximum 60% growth showing) and higher than ever in the entire pandemic, other than for the first week or so in March last year.

The actual case numbers in the US remain low, but that’s not a reason to ignore what is happening.  Sure, a doubling of cases, from eg 10,000 to 20,000 seems a lot less alarming and impactful than a doubling from 100,000 to 200,000, but the key measure is rate of case growth, not number of cases.  The thing is, as we’ve seen before, a doubling from 10k to 20k can then become a doubling from 20k to 40k, from 40k to 80k, and then you’re starting to ascend to massive numbers and another doubling or two gets you to a really nasty number.

At the current rate of growth, cases are doubling every 9.5 days.  Or, to put it another way, today is 15 July.  On 15 August, if numbers continue as they are, case rates will be almost exactly ten times higher than today, which is also higher than ever before.  That’s the thing about geometric growth – the time to respond is before it appears to be a problem, because once it becomes an apparent problem, it is too late.

The unstoppable Olympics are getting closer to their opening in Tokyo, where Covid cases have now surged to a six month high.  We can only guess how high they’ll go during and immediately after the two week Olympic event.

WHO states the obvious, yet again.  It shared the profound thought with us this week that the pandemic is nowhere near finished.  Does that surprise anyone?

We’re already moving to the “gloom and doom” stories for the US and our rising numbers of new cases.  This article predicts that a “surprising amount of deaths” (a delightfully vague term) will soon occur in some US regions.

Vaccination rates seem to be dropping just about everywhere in the world, no matter if a country is approaching “max vax” or not.  This is very disappointing.

Closings and Openings

Thursday saw an announcement that Sacramento County in California was recommending that fully vaccinated people should still mask up when indoors.

A bit later in the day comes news that Los Angeles County is mandating mask wearing indoors for everyone, starting from Saturday night.  That was probably a very unwelcome decision and announcement to make, but it is one totally supported by the growing number of new cases in LA Co, in California as a whole, and indeed, in the entire US.  Good for them for showing some positive leadership and being keen to get ahead of this latest curve.

Who Should Pay

Remember the mad rushes last year to throw trillions of dollars at the Covid “problem”, with all-too-little thought about exactly how the money would be spent and what it was supposed to achieve?

Amazingly, it seems that some cities got so much money that they’ve not been able to spend it all.  You’d think that if they don’t spend the money, they’d be obliged to send it back, but you’d apparently be wrong.  The White House has suggested cities spend the money on crime fighting instead.

Although I support well-funded crime fighting, something about that logic troubles me.

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

 

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