Covid-19 Diary : Thursday 29 July, 2021

Thursday set a new record high number of Covid cases reported in the US since early February.  Sadly, that same statement applies to many of the preceding days for the last five weeks due to the rapidly increasing new cases, with Thursday being the first day cases have again exceeded 90,000.  Thursday’s final count isn’t yet available, but the number is already over 93,000 and could go over 95,000 when the last reports are collated.

As you can see, for almost three weeks, our daily growth (orange line) has been rising at a rate higher than any time since the pandemic started in March last year.  If it continues, we’ll be over 100,000 cases a day within a day or two, and over 200,000 cases a day in less than two weeks.

But, will the growth continue?  Sooner or later, it has to stop, doesn’t it?  That’s a puzzle I can’t start to solve.  As I commented on Sunday, this strange virus attacks us viciously, then suddenly pulls back for no apparent reason, only to return and repeat the process again.

There’s no obvious answer to why our skyrocketing growth in November/December suddenly reversed and plunged down again, and so I find myself desperately hoping that the virus will “voluntarily” give us another respite, starting from any day now.

That is clearly what has happened in the UK, although its remarkable and utterly unexpected plunge in numbers is now slowing.  But will it continue at a more moderate rate of reducing numbers, or will it reverse and swing up again?  No-one knows for sure, no matter what the experts might say to the contrary.

Continuing on that concept, it is almost amusing to note how UK’s “leading experts” were predicting, just a week ago (18 July) that case numbers would continue to soar up to and could exceed 200,000 a day, a rate almost four times higher than ever before.  But instead, at a time when they told us to get ready for 200,000 cases a day, new case numbers are only somewhat over 20,000 a day, and less than half what they were at the time the prediction was made.  This article and this article are excellent takes on the utter incompetence of the “experts”.

One thing “experts” are good at though is coming up with excuses for why they were wrong.  And they’ve done that this time, too, but all their excuses (schools closing, warmer weather, the end of mass sport events, and so on) were and are not surprises – they were things that were known in advance and should have been included in their models and projections.

Perhaps the most astonishing about-face though is from one of the most consistently pessimistic (and wrong!) of all UK’s “experts”, who was predicting 200k new cases a day, but now has switched and expects the virus to be a distant memory come October!  Sadly, we expect he’ll be wrong with that prediction too.

Is it any reason then that normal people, with common sense, even if not with many degrees and “expertise”, have lost almost all confidence in what our experts are telling us?  This is a good article on that point.

Not only are the experts so often wrong, but there’s also a tinge of dishonesty or bias that normal people sense about their “mistakes”.  Or, if not dishonesty/bias, then at the very least, gross incompetence.  How about the White House and its flips and flops on masks – first no masks, then masks, then no masks, and now, masks again (but vaccinations, while now being mandated across the federal government, seem to remain exempt for White House workers – why?).

Another example – the PCR test to see if a person had a Covid infection or not was and still is controversial.  The CDC and FDA have lauded it as the “gold standard” and most accurate of all tests, whereas some people have said it has been set way too sensitive and is prone to too many false positives, something that is denied outright by the CDC/FDA.  That is reflected in most airlines and countries requiring PCR tests as proof of not being infected.  Oh, and did we mention, PCR testing is the slowest and most expensive of the many different test options out there?

Of note is that one of the people criticizing the way the PCR test is used is the man who invented it, but when he expressed what is surely a meaningful and valid concern about the PCR testing process being used to detect Covid infections, his comments were deleted and removed from social media.

But now, we discover that the CDC is quietly cancelling the use of PCR testing.  We’ve looked to find the press release or the main stream media articles headlined “Yes, we were wrong, the PCR testing is inaccurate and unreliable” but we can’t find those anywhere.  Instead, there’s a “Laboratory Alert” on the CDC website mentioning that at the end of this year (why not now?) the CDC will ask the FDA to withdraw its Emergency Use Authorization for PCR-based virus testing.

This article talks about the issue some more.

And talking about the CDC and the level of trust it engenders, it is now saying we should mask up again, based on secret research it is unwilling to share.  What’s with that???

Here are two more examples why we shouldn’t and can’t trust experts to do the right thing.

Earlier this week, the UK announced it would now allow vaccinated US and EU citizens to visit the UK without the need for quarantine upon arrival.  You’d still need a before-travel test for the virus, and a second test a couple of days after arriving, but no quarantine.  That’s great news.

But, unbelievably, while all the EU and the US were included, even countries with higher rates of virus activity than in the UK, Canada was not mentioned.  Canada, a senior member of the British Commonwealth, a trusted equal member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance, and a long-time loyal British ally and friend, has a Covid activity level 30 times lower than in the UK, and 15 times lower than in the US.  If any country should have been given the red carpet treatment and be first to have its citizens welcomed, surely it would be Canada.  Instead, it has been overlooked entirely.

Why? Later in the week, it was suggested that Canada would soon be added to that list, but why not now?  What is the delay for?

And, for the ultimate perfidy which isn’t just inconveniencing Canadians, but which is killing millions of people around the world, this excellent WSJ opinion piece again raises the overlooked issue of ivermectin and the FDA’s apparently dishonest attacks on its safety and effectiveness.

As I say regularly, our problem is not the virus itself, it is our inability to sensibly, coherently, and consistently respond to it.

Current Numbers

Another week with no changes in the minor country ranking table. But the major country table made up for it, with lots of changes, including the US dropping one place, and the UK re-appearing at the bottom of the list.

The death rate table is always slow changing, with no changes this week.  And, of course, the case rate activity last week table is always very volatile.

Of note is the UK now falling down the table again.  They reported a drop of 37% in new cases the last week.  Europe as a whole also dropped, by 10%, with the Netherlands starring with the biggest drop (48%).  Major rises were in Iceland (185%), France (45%), Italy (43%), and Germany (38%).

The US rose 54%.  The world as a whole rose 9%.

Top Case Rates Minor Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Andorra (186,883) Andorra (189,349)
2 Seychelles (179,283) Seychelles (183,725)
3 Montenegro (160,575) Montenegro
4 Bahrain Bahrain
5 San Marino San Marino
6 Gibraltar (140,380) Gibraltar (146,140)
7 Maldives Maldives
8 Slovenia Slovenia
9 Luxembourg Luxembourg
10 Uruguay (108,968) Uruguay (109,327)

 

Top Case Rates Major Countries (cases per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Czech Republic (155,819) Czech Republic (155,933)
2 Sweden (107,847) Netherlands (108,246)
3 Netherlands (106,392) Sweden (108,136)
4 USA  (105,730) Argentina  (107,489)
5 Argentina USA (106,831)
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Portugal (92,791) Portugal (94,783)
8 Colombia (91,198) Spain (94,545)
9 Brazil (91,169) France
10 Spain Brazil
11 France (90,690) Colombia (92,623)
12 Chile (83,192) UK (84,981)

 

Top Death Rate Major Countries (deaths per million)

Rank One Week Ago Today
1 Peru  (5,841) Peru  (5,863)
2 Czech Rep  (2,828) Czech Rep  (2,830)
3 Brazil Brazil
4 Colombia (2,290) Colombia
5 Argentina Argentina
6 Belgium Belgium
7 Italy Italy
8 Poland Poland
9 UK (1,889) UK (1,897)
10 USA (1,880) USA (1,887)

 

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  5,630 Cuba  5,158
2 Botswana  4,799 Georgia  4,523
3 UK  4,724 Cyprus  4,501
4 Cuba Botswana
5 Spain Spain
6 Netherlands Malaysia
7 Georgia UK  2,970
8 Mongolia Mongolia
9 Tunisia Libya
10 Malaysia Eswatini
11 Portugal Kazakhstan
12 Colombia  2,121 Iran  2,380

I Am Not a Doctor, But….

Continuing my thoughts from the opening section (about the idiocy of experts) here’s an article suggesting that the Delta variant might be 1,000 times more infectious than the regular version of Covid.

Let me put that argument to rest instantly.  If it was 1,000 times more infectious, we’d see numbers not increasing by 50% a week, but by 50,000% a week.  So, we are at 95,000 cases today.  A week later would be 47 million people a day infected, and a week after that would be 23 billion, or several times the entire population of the planet.  Ummm, not happening and not going to happen, either.

Why do these experts have no ability to pause and look at the demonstrated reality of the Delta virus before making such comments?  We already have 93% of all new infections in the US coming from the Delta variant, so we clearly know, based on real data, how infectious it is.

I also spoke about the CDC’s latest reversal about masks.  But its new policy is ridiculous and meaningless.  They say that people “should wear” masks.  But that’s a weak phrase that means nothing.  Must wear, or don’t need to wear – those are phrases everyone understands and can action.  But what does “should” mean?

They also say this applies only in hot spots and areas with “high or substantial transmission“.  Quick question – do you know where the hot spots are?  Do you know where the areas with high or substantial transmission are?  Do you even know what the phrases mean in terms of actual case numbers?  No, of course, none of us have a clue what it means, including, almost certainly, the CDC itself.

And as for the new mandate for federal workers to be vaccinated?  That’s meaningless too.  The “fine print” says that people will need to either “attest” to being vaccinated, or be regularly tested for infection.

About the attesting?  That’s even weaker than requiring the easily duplicated slip of paper “vaccination record” that we are given when we’re vaccinated.  Anyone can attest to anything if they choose to and when they don’t need to provide proof.

Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine

Here’s an article in the Wall St Journal (the same WSJ that published the excellent article calling for ivermectin use just a day or two later) headed “Covid Treatment Options Remain Elusive, Despite Months of Effort and Rising Delta Cases”.

The moderately lengthy article goes on about the need for, the research into, and the benefits that would come from easy simple quick Covid treatments.  But as for the solution staring the article writer in the face – ivermectin?  All he says is “UK & US government researchers are starting IVM trials”.

There have been 104 studies on ivermectin already, some dating back to early last year, 67 of them peer reviewed, and overwhelming evidence in favor of using ivermectin.  Some countries have adopted it as a “standard of care” treatment for Covid.  His terse statement seems to be verging on the deceptive and deceitful.

I wrote to the article writer and asked him why he overlooked all this positive activity and outcomes.  He never replied.

Vaccine News

Here’s a not very surprising finding – not only is the Chinese Sinovac vaccine not very effective, but its protection appears to fade after about six months.

This is a great roundup of all the approved and being trialed vaccines in the pipeline.

Timings And Numbers

Yes, I keep coming back to the curious events in Britain and their sudden overnight transition from steeply rising to even more steeply falling new cases.  This chart gives a partial reason why I’m so fixated on it.

As you can see, over the last six months, the UK’s experience is an extraordinary standout anomaly, matched only by the Netherlands.  Sure, I could have added more countries, and I played with adding/subtracting countries, but more countries ended up obscuring any patterns at all while not duplicating the situation in the UK/Netherlands.  You can try for yourself, if you like, here.  I don’t know enough about the Netherlands to formulate or criticize any theories for its own extraordinary experience, so I really want to be able to understand and appraise explanations for the UK numbers.

This article notes how the several lockdowns in the UK never seemed to make much difference to new Covid cases.  Of course, the difficulty with that is not knowing what would have happened without the lockdowns, but it would be nice to see some correlation between lockdowns and virus rates.  And of course, the “poster child” for the writer’s thought is the ending of lockdown just over a week ago – an act that was projected to see a rise in new Covid cases, but the opposite actually happened.

On the other hand, this analysis from the IHME site shows very little change in social distancing from one month to the next.  Maybe the apparent fact there’s little impact from lockdown measures is because the lockdown measures are ineffective.

This article “Higher COVID Rate Found In Counties With Higher Vaccination Rate” risks connecting two unrelated things and concluding that vaccination causes rather than prevents Covid.

The main reason why counties with lower vaccination rates have lower Covid rates is because they tend to be rural with less person-to-person and indoor contact.  The higher vaccinated/higher case areas tend to be densely populated city areas.

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

 

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